Wednesday, May 10, 2017

So Were The Trump Voters Just Deplorable Racist Pigs... Or Economically Distressed Americans Desperate For Change?


Sean McElwee and Jason McDaniel, writing for The Nation this week lean towards the oinkster theory in their data-driven piece, Economic Anxiety Didn't Make People Vote For Trump, Racism Did. Emma Green, writing for The Atlantic backs them up, referring to Trump voters' "cultural anxiety." She wrote that "a new study finds that fear of societal change, not economic pressure, motivated votes for the president among non-salaried workers without college degrees." Voters from the white working class gave Trump a 2 to 1 advantage over Clinton.
In the wake of Trump’s surprise win, some journalists, scholars, and political strategists argued that economic anxiety drove these Americans to Trump. But new analysis of post-election survey data conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic found something different: Evidence suggests financially troubled voters in the white working class were more likely to prefer Clinton over Trump. Besides partisan affiliation, it was cultural anxiety-- feeling like a stranger in America, supporting the deportation of immigrants, and hesitating about educational investment-- that best predicted support for Trump.

This data adds to the public’s mosaic-like understanding of the 2016 election. It suggests Trump’s most powerful message, at least among some Americans, was about defending the country’s putative culture. Because this message seems to have resonated so deeply with voters, Trump’s policies, speeches, and eventual reelection may depend on their perception of how well he fulfills it.

...[T]hree factors stood out as strong independent predictors of how white working-class people would vote. The first was anxiety about cultural change. Sixty-eight percent of white working-class voters said the American way of life needs to be protected from foreign influence. And nearly half agreed with the statement, “things have changed so much that I often feel like a stranger in my own country.” Together, these variables were strong indictors of support for Trump: 79 percent of white working-class voters who had these anxieties chose Trump, while only 43 percent of white working-class voters who did not share one or both of these fears cast their vote the same way.

The second factor was immigration. Contrary to popular narratives, only a small portion-- just 27 percent-- of white working-class voters said they favor a policy of identifying and deporting immigrants who are in the country illegally. Among the people who did share this belief, Trump was wildly popular: 87 percent of them supported the president in the 2016 election.

Finally, 54 percent of white working-class Americans said investing in college education is a risky gamble, including 61 percent of white working-class men. White working-class voters who held this belief were almost twice as likely as their peers to support Trump. “The enduring narrative of the American dream is that if you study and get a college education and work hard, you can get ahead,” said Robert P. Jones, the CEO of PRRI. “The survey shows that many white working-class Americans, especially men, no longer see that path available to them… It is this sense of economic fatalism, more than just economic hardship, that was the decisive factor in support for Trump among white working-class voters."

While the analysis pointed to some interesting patterns around economic status, more research is needed to confirm them. The findings contrast with much of the coverage of the election: People who said their finances are only in fair or poor shape were nearly twice as likely to support Clinton compared to those who feel more economically secure.

...Nearly two-thirds of the white working class say American culture has gotten worse since the 1950s. Sixty-eight percent say the U.S. is in danger of losing its identity, and 62 percent say America’s growing number of immigrants threaten the country’s culture. More than half say discrimination against whites has become just as problematic as discrimination against minorities.

I'll bet the picture that emerged of the white working class from the PRRI survey would be similar to a look at French voters in the only two departments that went from Le Pen, rust-belt areas in the northeast near the Belgian border, Pas-de-Calais and Aisne. These are the Americans:
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of white working-class Americans believe American culture and way of life has deteriorated since the 1950s.
Nearly half (48%) of white working-class Americans say, “things have changed so much that I often feel like a stranger in my own country.”
Nearly seven in ten (68%) white working-class Americans believe the American way of life needs to be protected from foreign influence. In contrast, fewer than half (44%) of white college-educated Americans express this view.
Nearly seven in ten (68%) white working-class Americans—along with a majority (55%) of the public overall—believe the U.S. is in danger of losing its culture and identity.
More than six in ten (62%) white working-class Americans believe the growing number of newcomers from other countries threatens American culture, while three in ten (30%) say these newcomers strengthen society.
Nearly six in ten (59%) white working-class Americans believe immigrants living in the country illegally should be allowed to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements, while 10% say they should be allowed to become permanent legal residents. More than one in four (27%) say we should identify and deport illegal immigrants. Notably, support for a path to citizenship is only slightly lower than support among the general public (63%).
More than half (52%) of white working-class Americans believe discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities, while 70% of white college-educated Americans disagree.
Fewer than four in ten white working-class Americans report they are in excellent (5%) or good shape (33%) financially, compared to six in ten who say they are in fair (35%) or poor shape (25%). White working-class Americans about as likely to say their financial situation has diminished (27%) as they are to say it has improved (29%). White college-educated Americans, in contrast, are about three times as likely to say their financial circumstances have gotten better than gotten worse (41% vs. 14%, respectively).
A majority (54%) of the white working class view getting a college education as a risky gamble, while only 44% say it is a smart investment.
Six in ten (60%) white working-class Americans, compared to only 32% of white college-educated Americans say because things have gotten so far off track, we need a strong leader who is willing to break the rules.

McElwee and McDaniel aren't shy about diagnosing the affinity for Trump as a manifestation of racism, while asking "how the racial resentment that powered Trump’s ascent differed from the support for Republican candidates in prior elections? And what was the relative importance of economic peril to voting in 2016 compared to several different types of racism and racial animus exhibited by voters?... Trump," they wrote, "accelerated a realignment in the electorate around racism, across several different measures of racial animus-- and that it helped him win. By contrast, we found little evidence to suggest individual economic distress benefited Trump. The American political system is sorting so that racial progressivism and economic progressivism are aligned in the Democratic Party and racial conservatism and economic conservatism are aligned in the Republican Party."
In our models, racial attitudes towards blacks and immigration are the key factors associated with support for Trump. The way that these variables impact Trump support can be seen in the charts below. Both racial resentment and black influence animosity are significant predictors of Trump support among white respondents, independent of partisanship, ideology, education levels, and the other factors included in the model. The results indicate a probability of Trump support higher than 60 percent for an otherwise typical white voter who scores at the highest levels on either anti-black racial resentment or anti-black influence animosity. This compares to less than 30 percent chance for a typical white voter with below average scores on either of the two measures anti-black attitudes. There is approximately a 10 percent probability of a Trump vote for an otherwise typical white voter at the lowest levels of racial resentment.

The effect of immigration attitudes for white people is even stronger than anti-black attitudes. The results predict an approximately 80 percent probability of voting for Trump for an otherwise average white person with the most anti-immigrant attitudes, compared to less than 20 percent for a white person with the most pro-immigrant attitudes. To put these results in context, the magnitude of the effects of each of the three variables-- racial resentment, black influence animosity, and immigration attitudes-- is comparable to the effect of partisan identification. The change in probability of a Trump vote for a white person with the highest to the lowest levels of racial animus is similar to changing their party identification from Republican to Democratic.

...It’s likely that political elites (party leaders, activists, media organizations) will continue on the current path and the issue of identity will fully map onto the current political divides. Economic conservatism and white nationalism will become more fully intertwined for Republicans, as will racial and economic equity for Democrats. Republicans have shown little interest in attempting to hold back Trump’s openly racist rhetoric. On the other side, few Democrats have proposed abandoning civil rights (and those who have met intense backlash). Democrats may press forward with an economic, racial and gender progressive agenda, while Republicans continue to tie economic conservatism to white identity politics.

Another possible outcome would be for economic issues to simply further fall off the political map, with identity becoming the central battleground in American politics. This would involve Democrats reducing their commitments to economic equality, while Republicans embrace a sort of ethnonationalism. For instance, Trump could try to follow the pathway of Viktor Orban in Hungary, nationalizing industries to lower consumer prices while also spouting xenophobic rhetoric. Another model would be the Law and Justice party in Poland, which has melded anti-Semitism and a populist agenda including child tax benefits. Trump has made signals in this direction-- for instance his push for a big infrastructure bill.

However, so far, nothing like this has materialized, and powerful interests within the Republican Party would strongly oppose any action in this direction. For this reason, we think this realignment is unlikely with the current status quo--Trump has expressed no interest in attempting to make it happen, nor has any Republican statewide elected officials.

Though such a realignment is unlikely, progressives should be concerned about such an outcome for two reasons: First, the confluence of racial and economic inequality in the United States means that there are more poor whites than rich non-whites available to migrate between party coalitions-- a fact that may have been overlooked by the Clinton campaign. Second, without economic redistribution, progressive goals on LGBT rights, racial justice, and gender equity are unattainable. Civil rights without economic redistribution will leave many behind, from transgender homeless kids to home healthcare workers.

The right, however, has powerful incentives to continue increasing the salience of identity, which will mask their regressive politics.

Labels: , , ,


At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based only on the fact that, after the total sinkhole that is the orange-utang so far, 96% of his voters would still vote for him;
And on the fact that overt hate has flowered and hate CRIMES have mushroomed since he ran;
And the results of the above polling:

One can only deduce that they are deplorable racist motherfuckers...

But based on the economic degradation, which is NOT imagined, and the fact that MOST of it has occurred as a direct result of democrap policies implemented, and progressive policies rejected/betrayed.

so what's a voter to do?
Vote democrap? Doesn't fucking work. The proof is in the Clintons and obamanations... and DNC, DxCCs et al.
Vote orange? If this is the best deduction to be made, then voters are truly sub-sentient pinheads.

Vote Green or Socialist or other 3rd party? Thufferin' Thuccotash! That might actually work some day. Sure doesn't make things WORSE. But the conventional "wisdom" is that it will only result in electing orange-utangs.

Guess what assholes!!!

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Dr. Tony said...

Please tell me just what is the cultural identity of this country? What happened to the "melting pot" that made up this country? I do not feel like a stranger in my own country and I am white. I love the cultural diversity that makes up this country. My grand children are a rainbow of cultures and I love it. Wake up America - this country is not a "whites' only country." Read your history for God's sake.

At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. T, it's the same story as in Germany in the '30s. When being (fill in the blank) means abject misery, humans tend to blame whomever is convenient to blame instead of those who they keep voting for in the hopes of improvement.

Any reasonably effective demagogue can come up with some scapegoat demographic, or several. And humans are not prone to do a lot of objective analysis when they can be cajoled to hate as easily as wwe are.

Fact is, American culture is predominately white and patriarchal.

When women became within 25% of "equal" and facing the prospect, soon, that whites will be a minority... well, you see the opportunity for a racist, misogynistic demagogue to arise.

The fact that the "other" party does nothing for their voters means that there is just more fuel for the hate fire every cycle.

Given the times, both hitler and drumpf became inevitable. It's human nature.


Post a Comment

<< Home