Donald Trump's use of racism and sexism in US election 'gave him the edge with non-college-educated whites'

'Sexism and racism were powerful forces in structuring the 2016 presidential vote, even after controlling for partisanship and ideology'

Jon Sharman
Friday 06 January 2017 18:51
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President-elect Donald Trump threatened to impose a 'big border tax' on General Motors in a tweet on January 3
President-elect Donald Trump threatened to impose a 'big border tax' on General Motors in a tweet on January 3

Donald Trump's dramatic success among white voters without a college education can be attributed largely to racism and sexism, researchers have claimed — and not the economic difficulties of those "left behind".

Political scientists from the University of Massachusetts said that even though Mr Trump's "explicit racist and sexist appeals" might have cost him the votes of educated whites, they "may have won him even more support" among those without degrees.

Their study, co-authored with the founder of the pro-Democratic campaign and marketing organisation MacWilliams Sanders Communication, concluded that "sexism and racism were powerful forces in structuring the 2016 presidential vote, even after controlling for partisanship and ideology".

The researchers, Brian Schaffner and Tatishe Nteta, examined post-election suggestion that working-class white people voted for Mr Trump because they had been "left behind during the economic recovery that took place during the Obama presidency" after the Republican gained a 40-point lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton among the group.

That gap has been steadily widening for some years, they said.

They concluded: "The effect of economic dissatisfaction is dwarfed by the relationship between sexism and racism and voting for Trump.

"For example, an individual who was average on all other variables in the model but registered the most sexist attitudes on the hostile sexism scale had a .65 probability of voting for Trump.

"That same individual would have just a .35 predicted probability of voting for Trump if she registered the least sexist attitudes."

While the researchers said it would be "misguided to seek an understanding of Trump’s success in the 2016 presidential election through any single lens", they added it was "unsurprising to find that voters’ attitudes on race and sex were so important in determining their vote choices" given how prominent the rhetoric around those subjects had been.

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