We humans create explanations about our environment and the creatures that inhabit it. That is, we are theory builders. One of the hallmarks of a good explanation is its simplicity. Consequently, we prefer explanations that are simple and few. So it is with the post-election speculations about what led voters to vote for Trump. Here is a summary of the analysis of voting data that shows that our quest for simplicity of explanation is misleading. Not just one or two but three factors, economic insecurity, racism, and sexism, all played a role in voting for Trump. Here is the short report from the HuffPollster morning email.
THE ELECTION WAS ABOUT RACISM AND SEXISM, NOT JUST THE ECONOMY - Brian Schaffner: “In the wake of Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton last week, many are still struggling to understand what happened….[W]e are left with competing narratives, with some reports suggesting that economic insecurity was the decisive factor in this election, and others highlighting the role of racism or sexism in driving voters toward Trump. The truth, however, is that there is no single cause of Trump’s success among whites. All three factors played an important role….Dissatisfaction with one’s own economic situation leads to a sizable increase in the probability of supporting Trump, but so too does increasing levels of denial that racism exists in America. Sexism is also a powerful force, as those who are more in agreement that women seek to gain control over men were far more likely to support Trump…. Ultimately, the competing narratives about why Trump performed so well among whites are not competing at all; they are complementary. To truly understand Trump’s success means acknowledging that economic insecurity was part of the story, but so too were racism and sexism.” [Vox]
Also from the HuffPollster is this evidence that a fourth factor was at plays - the urban vs. rural divide.
THE COUNTRY’S RURAL-URBAN DIVIDE IS AS LARGE AS EVER - Ronald Brownstein: “Of all the overlapping generational, racial, and educational divides that explained Trump’s stunning upset over Hillary Clinton last week, none proved more powerful than the distance between the Democrats’ continued dominance of the largest metropolitan areas, and the stampede toward the GOP almost everywhere else. Trump’s victory was an empire-strikes-back moment for all the places and voters that feel left behind in an increasingly diverse, post-industrial, and urbanized America.…. [O]verall, [Clinton] delivered a dominant performance in most urban centers and many affluent white-collar suburbs…. At latest tally, Clinton won the nation’s 100 largest counties by fully 12.6 million votes—an historic lead certain to widen with many more West Coast ballots yet to count…. But Clinton suffered far greater losses than Obama outside of this vibrant urban core. Tom Bonier, the chief executive of the Democratic targeting firm TargetSmart, says that with final results still pending in some states, Clinton has won only about 420 counties total—far fewer than any popular vote winner over the past century. In the roughly 3000 counties beyond the 100 largest, Trump trounced Clinton by about 11.5 million votes. [The Atlantic]