United States: Racial Resentment, Negative Partisanship and Polarization in Trump’s America
Forthcoming, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, January 2019
41 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2018
Date Written: July 31, 2018
Growing racial, ideological and cultural polarization within the American electorate contributed to the shocking victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Using data from American National Election Studies surveys, we show that Trump’s unusually explicit appeals to racial and ethnic resentment attracted strong support from white working class voters while repelling many college-educated whites along with the overwhelming majority of nonwhite voters. However, Trump’s campaign exploited divisions that have been growing within the electorate for decades because of demographic and cultural changes in American society. The 2016 presidential campaign also reinforced another longstanding trend in American electoral politics: the rise of negative partisanship, that is voting based on hostility toward the opposing party and its leaders. We conclude with a discussion of the consequences of deepening partisan and affective polarization for American democracy and the perceptions by both experts and the public of an erosion in its quality.
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