Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Who Voted for Trump, Continued

Matt Grossman and Daniel Thaler:
Donald Trump won the American presidency in 2016 by overperforming expectations in upper Midwest states, surprising even Republican political elites. We argue that attitudes toward social change were an underappreciated dividing line between supporters of Trump and Hillary Clinton as well as between Republicans at the mass and elite levels. We introduce a concept and measure of aversion to (or acceptance of) social diversification and value change, assess the prevalence of these attitudes in the mass public and among political elites, and demonstrate its effects on support for Trump. Our research uses paired surveys of Michigan’s adult population and community of political elites in the Fall of 2016. Aversion to social change is strongly predictive of support for Trump at the mass level, even among racial minorities. But attitudes are far more accepting of social change among elites than the public and aversion to social change is not a factor explaining elite Trump support. If elites were as averse to social change as the electorate—and if that attitude mattered to their vote choice—they might have been as supportive of Trump. Views of social change were not as strongly related to congressional voting choices.
As to what "aversion to social change" means:
Aversion to social change is related to but distinguishable from racial resentment (which invokes specific attitudes toward African American advancement), authoritarianism (measured as parenting attitudes), and ethnocentrism (including attitudes toward Latinos and Muslims). It constitutes views of the perceived high-pace movement from traditional values to more diverse ideas and groups. We find that aversion to social change predicts Trump support independently of any of these factors (as well as independently of party identification, ideology, religiosity, and economic attitudes).
This makes sense to me; whatever else Trump is, he is obviously old school.

But as they note, this factor only explains part of the small change from 2012 to 2016; after all 90% of both Democrats and Republicans voted for their own candidate.


Unknown said...

Is Trump that old school? Maybe, if old school is a combination of Hugh Hefner, Al Capp, and George Wallace.

It looks to me like the analysis you're citing just takes a couple of familiar (and, so far as they go, apt) explanations of Trumpism--racism (not significantly distinguishable from "ethnocentrism," as far as I can see) and "authoritarian personality"--and labels the whole with the mystifying abstraction, "aversion to social change." What's new here?

Unknown said...

To put my objection another way, it looks to me like Trump voters are opposed to certain social phenomena, and support others, regardless of whether the phenomena in question represent change or not. One of the biggest changes of the last 50 yrs, it seems to me, is the proliferation of suburban gun ownership. That's a huge change in American life, and I bet Trump voters like it.

John said...

That's an interesting point. But non-elite Republicans are especially likely to complain about change happening too fast; "Make America Great Again" was Trump's slogan, and Obama responded by saying that America is great now. Republicans are much more likely to think the country was better in the past than it is now.

So maybe, instead of objecting to particular changes and extrapolating from that to an opposition to all change, people start from an emotional sense that things are getting worse and then fasten that sense to particular changes.

After all in economic policy it is often Democrats defending the status quo and libertarian-leaning Republicans trying to shake things up.