Poll shows racial animus predicts support for Trump/Republicans over populism
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Media narratives often present Trump’s success as the product of a populist politics. Since his election, many rust-belt diners have had their breakfast interrupted by reporters eager to
suss out the secret to Trump’s success. Here we present results from our What The Hell Happened Survey of 3,215 voters, weighted to be nationally representative of the electorate
using Catalist’s voter file.
We find that racial animus, not populism, predicts support for Trump in 2016 and Congressional Republicans in 2018. We also find that Obama-Trump voters are motivated in part by
populism but also racial animus, and the voters who moved back into the Democratic column in 2018 were also more populist than Obama-Trump voters who did not.
Respondents in Data for Progress’ What The Hell Happened? survey were asked several items drawn from a well-tested set of items in the academic literature designed to measure
populist sentiment. Specifically, our populism items asked respondents to indicate the whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statements:
It doesn't really matter who you vote for because the rich control both political parties.
The system is stacked against people like me.
I'd rather put my trust in the wisdom of ordinary people than in the opinions of experts and intellectuals.
To measure racial animus, we built a similar scale out of responses to items in our survey that academics use to measure racist attitudes. We drew from a variety of different political
science measures of racism, specifically, we asked respondents to “indicate the extent to which [they] agree with each of the following statements.”*
Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for African Americans to work their way out of the lower class.
I am angry that racism exists.
Irish, Italian, Jewish, and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same without any special favors.
Racial problems in the U.S. are rare, isolated situations.
White people in the U.S. have certain advantages because of the color of their skin.
The following charts present predicted probabilities of voting for Trump in 2016 or voting for a House Republican in 2018 by change in the racial animus scale. In each pane, the
predicted probabilities are presented for change in the racial animus scale holding numeric variables to their mean, and categorical variables to their modal values.
Across the models for which House 2018 vote was the predictor of interest, however, the populism model was negatively correlated with House Republican vote choice across the full
sample. On a populism scale ranging from zero to three, a one-point increase in a respondent’s level of agreement with populism-oriented statements was associated with about a 0.13
decrease in the probability of voting for a House Republican candidate in 2018.
Racists support racists? What a shock.
"Except for the field organizers of strikes, who were pretty tough monkeys and devoted, most of the so-called Communists I met were middle-class, middle-aged people playing a game of dreams. I remember a woman in easy circumstances saying to another even more affluent: 'After the revolution even we will have more, won't we, dear?' Then there was another lover of proletarians who used to raise hell with Sunday picknickers on her property. I guess the trouble was that we didn't have any self-admitted proletarians. Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed capitalist. Maybe the Communists so closely questioned by the investigation committees were a danger to America, but the ones I knew—at least they claimed to be Communists—couldn't have disrupted a Sunday-school picnic. Besides they were too busy fighting among themselves."
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