Demographic Change, Threat, and Presidential Voting: Evidence from U.S. Electoral Precincts, 2012 to 2016
29 Pages Posted:
Date Written: March 13, 2019
Immigration and demographic change have become highly salient in American politics, partly because of the 2016 campaign of Donald Trump. Previous research indicates that local influxes of immigrants or unfamiliar ethnic groups can generate threatened responses, but has either focused on non-electoral outcomes or has analyzed elections in large geographic units such as counties. Here, we examine whether demographic changes at low levels of aggregation were associated with vote shifts toward an anti-immigration presidential candidate between 2012 and 2016. To do so, we compile a novel, precinct-level data set of election results and demographic measures for more than 26,000 precincts in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. We employ regression analyses varying model specifications and measures of demographic change. Our estimates uncover little evidence that influxes of Hispanics or non-citizen immigrants benefitted Trump relative to past Republicans, and in fact suggest that these changes helped his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Keywords: Demographic change, US elections, immigration, 2016 presidential election
JEL Classification: H00, J6, J1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation