On Saturday, white nationalists including neo-Nazis, the KKK, and the “alt-right” held a rally/riot in Charlottesville, VA. In the immediate aftermath, President Trump said “many sides” were to blame for the violence. Again on Tuesday, Trump drew a moral equivalency between white nationalists and those who opposed them in Charlottesville. These statements were widely interpreted by many, including by white nationalists, to be a tacit endorsement of white nationalism. How did Congress react?
We analyzed 327 communications issued by Members of Congress on Saturday, August 12th. On that day slightly more than half of Congress weighed in on Twitter and in press releases — 152 Democrats and 133 Republicans (285 total). When we analyzed the language and the timing of congressional statements, several trends emerged.
- 2/3s of those who weighed in on Charlottesville prior to Trump’s 3:33 p.m. statement were Democrats.
- Democrats were 3 to 7 times more likely to condemn white nationalists by name than Republicans.
- Only 7% of Congress condemned white nationalists by name prior to Trump’s 3:33 p.m. speech — 34 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent.
- By the end of the day, 19% of Congress condemned white nationalists by name — 77 Democrats, 24 Republicans, and 1 Independent.