A New Study Shows Racism Absolutely Motivated Trump Voters
Many gallons of ink have been spilled breaking down the results of the 2016 Presidential Election – almost to the point of absurdity. But, the 2016 American National Election Study, released last week and reported Monday by the Washington Post, helps shed some light on what actually happened.
According to Thomas Wood, an assistant professor of political science at Ohio State University, who broke down the data for the Post, 2016’s election was out-of-the-ordinary across the board:
2016 was plainly an anomaly. While the wealthy are usually most likely to vote for the Republican, they didn’t this time; and while the poor are usually less likely to vote for the Republican, they were unusually supportive of Trump. And the degree to which the wealthy disdained the 2016 Republican candidate was without recent historical precedent.
In addition to exploring whether Trump voters were more likely to embrace authoritarianism (they weren’t), Wood dove into the study’s research into what role race and racism may have played in voting habits. Perhaps unsurprisingly, racism was a strong motivating factor in the election.
The table below was created to illustrate the responses of white survey participants corresponding to a scale Wood calls the “symbolic racism scale.” The survey used questions that wouldn’t be perceived outright as racist in order to provoke more honest answers. Wood explains, “This scale measures racial attitudes among respondents who know that it’s socially unacceptable to say things perceived as racially prejudiced. Rather than asking overtly prejudiced questions — ‘do you believe blacks are lazy’ — we ask whether racial inequalities today are a result of social bias or personal lack of effort and irresponsibility.”
According to Wood, “we’ve never seen such a clear correspondence between vote choice and racial perceptions. The biggest movement was among those who voted for the Democrat, who were far less likely to agree with attitudes coded as more racially biased.”
Finally, in what may be the clearest indicator that racism was a strong motivator for many Trump voters, the study showed that those who supported authoritariansm were only 3% more likely to vote for Trump while those who displayed more racist attitudes were 20% more likely to vote for him.
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