Economic Anxiety or Racial Predispositions? Explaining White Support for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election

31 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2016 Last revised: 8 May 2019

Date Written: October 4, 2016

Abstract

In this article, we examine the degree to which white support for Donald Trump is driven by economic anxiety or racial resentment. Given Donald Trump's rhetoric surrounding racial and ethnic minorities during the 2016 presidential election, it is perplexing that the influence of racial attitudes has been ignored in explaining his electoral success. We argue that whites with high levels of racially resentful attitudes should be more likely to support Donald Trump and that racial resentment should be a greater determinant of support for Trump than variables measuring economic anxiety. Relying on a logistic regression analysis, we utilize data from the 2016 American National Elections Survey. The findings support our expectations: white respondents with high levels of racially resentful attitudes were significantly more likely to indicate support for Donald Trump. Additionally, the model demonstrates that racial resentment is a far greater predictor of white support for Donald Trump than measures that capture economic anxiety.

Keywords: Racial Resentment, Economic Anxiety, Presidential Elections

Suggested Citation

Riley, Emmitt Y. and Peterson, Clarissa, Economic Anxiety or Racial Predispositions? Explaining White Support for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election (October 4, 2016). 2017 National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS) Annual Meeting. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2847791 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2847791

Emmitt Y. Riley (Contact Author)

DePauw University ( email )

Greencastle, IN 46135
United States
6623920876 (Phone)

Clarissa Peterson

Depauw University ( email )

105 Asbury Hall
Greencastle, IN 46135
United States

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