Decomposing U.S. Political Ideology: Local Labor Market Polarization and Race in the 2016 Presidential Election
42 Pages Posted: 12 May 2020
Date Written: April 17, 2020
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign highlighted protectionism of U.S.-born workers at a time of growing income inequality, racial tensions, and labor market polarization. Our study investigates if and how voters' life circumstances affected election behavior between 2012 and 2016, and how voter behavior relates to compositional versus structural change of communities. We relate changes in the Republican vote share between 2012 and 2016 to demographic and economic characteristics of U.S. counties and to rates of return (in terms of vote share) to these characteristics. We find that structural change in how local-level community attributes (most especially race) affect elections played a greater role between 2012 and 2016 than did differences in these community characteristics themselves. We find this more pronounced in battleground states, and in the presidential race as opposed to congressional ones.
Keywords: Presidential Election; Local Labor Markets; Race; Structural Change
JEL Classification: D70, D72, E24, R23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation