The Economic and Social Roots of Populist Rebellion: Support for Donald Trump in 2016

71 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2018

See all articles by Thomas Ferguson

Thomas Ferguson

University of Massachusetts Boston - Department of Political Science

Benjamin Page

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science

Jacob Rothschild

Northwestern University

Arturo Chang

Northwestern University

Jie Chen

University of Massachusetts Boston

Date Written: October 18, 2018

Abstract

This paper critically analyzes voting patterns in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Using survey data from the American National Election Survey and aggregate data on Congressional districts, it assesses the roles that economic and social factors played in Donald J. Trump’s “Populist” candidacy. It shows the hollowness of claims that economic issues played little or no role in the campaign and that social factors such as race or gender suffice to explain the outcome. While agreeing that racial resentment and sexism were important influences, the paper shows how various economic considerations helped Trump win the Republican primary and then led significant blocs of voters to shift from supporting Democrats or abstaining in 2012 to vote for him. It also presents striking evidence of the importance of political money and Senators’ “reverse coattails” in the dramatic final result.

Keywords: political economy, voting, 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump, Populism, political parties, political money, international economic policy, free trade

JEL Classification: D71, D72, G38, P16, N22, L51

Suggested Citation

Ferguson, Thomas and Page, Benjamin and Rothschild, Jacob and Chang, Arturo and Chen, Jie, The Economic and Social Roots of Populist Rebellion: Support for Donald Trump in 2016 (October 18, 2018). Institute for New Economic Thinking Working Paper Series No. 83, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3306267 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3306267

Thomas Ferguson (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts Boston - Department of Political Science ( email )

Boston, MA 02125
United States
617-265-7173 (Fax)

Benjamin Page

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science ( email )

601 University Place (Scott Hall)
Evanston, IL 60201
United States
847 491-2638 (Phone)

Jacob Rothschild

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Arturo Chang

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Jie Chen

University of Massachusetts Boston ( email )

100 William T Morrissey Blvd
Boston, MA 02125
United States

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