Racial Resentment Clearly Motivates Trump Supporters, Study Shows

Trump supporters are more likely to be motivated by racial resentment and hate more so than whites who support other Republican candidates, according to political scientists who say voter data proves it.


In a report published this week by the Western Political Science Association and Salon.com, Jason McDaniel and Sean McElwee cite data from the American National Election Studies 2016 pilot study and say, “The results are pretty clear: compared to supporters of other Republican candidates in the primary, Trump supporters really dislike many groups in America. For these voters, Trump’s blend of casual racism and muscular nativism is the core of his appeal.”

In the study respondents were asked to rate their feelings for various groups and political figures on a scale from zero to 100, with zero being unfavorable and 100 being favorable. The study compared responses Trump supporters, supporters of other Republican candidates and the general population.

According to their findings, Trump supporters are more likely to have negative feelings toward feminists, Muslims, Latinos, gays and lesbians and transgender people. WhileBlacks were listed as a group in the study, there was not a statistically significant difference between Trump supporters and supporters of other GOP candidates when it came to their negative feelings on Blacks.The two groups for which Trump supporters do not have negative feelings are police and whites.

“Trump supporters appear to resemble the supporters of Wallace and Nixon, with their support for the police and whites, and their disdain for those who don’t conform to the ‘Silent Majority,'” the authors said, adding the study “suggests that Trump supporters might be motivated less by positive feelings about Trump and more by negative feelings about groups they dislike that are motivated by the perception of threats to their identity as white people in America.”

The results show that the more a Trump supporter felt white racial identity was important, the more negative feelings they had toward Muslims and Latinos. And while the feelings toward Muslims and Latinos were also somewhat negative among other white Republican respondents, who said white racial identity was important, the degree to which Trump supporters had negative feelings was significantly higher.

“This is strong evidence that white racial identity plays a more important role in how Trump supporters evaluate people of color compared to those who support other candidates,” the authors said.

Data from American National Election Studies (ANES), which is a collaboration between Stanford University and the University of Michigan, also showed Trump supporters are overwhelmingly more likely to believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim. Among Trump supporters, 64 percent say Obama is a Muslim, compared to 25 percent of non-Trump supporters. Among Republicans who are not Trump supporters, 42 percent believe Obama is a Muslim.

The authors of the report say the study dispels one of the prevailing thoughts among political observers that Trump’s rise and popularity is based on his supporters’ anger over the country’s economic situation and their own economic anxiety.

“This narrative is difficult to square with the reality that although Blacks and Hispanics have significantly worse economic outcomes than whites, few have rushed to support Trump. We find that what drives support for Trump is the mistaken belief that the government serves the interests of Blacks, rather than whites.”

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