I have taken a lot of abuse by "conservatives" and Republican friends/acquaintances for my continued position that racism and its first cousin, religious based bigotry, were the key components in Trump's Electoral College win, despite his almost 3 million loss in the popular vote. Trump as seemingly been a racist for most of his life going back decades ago here in Norfolk, Virginia when the Trump companies were sued by the Justice Department for anti-black housing discrimination. Thus, who better than Trump to play to closet racists who had voted for Barack Obama because of their economic concerns which overrode their racism and religious bigotry. Two new studies indicate that - as I have consistently argued - Trump/the GOP played their cards to appeal to these voters' racism/religious animus to swing a critical number of Obama voters to Trump. Specifically, Trump lies to these voters on what he intended to do on healthcare and other issues when, based on what the GOP has attempted to date, these promises were never going to be realized. A piece in Slate looks at the study findings:
. . . . .[v]oters who supported Barack Obama in 2012 only to back Trump in 2016. Its lessons have far-ranging implications not only for diagnosing Trump’s specific appeal but for whether such an appeal would hold in 2020.Two reports from the Voter Study Group, which conducted the survey, give a detailed look at these vote switchers. . . . . One, from George Washington University political scientist John Sides, looks at racial, religious, and cultural divides and how they shaped the 2016 election. The other, from political scientist Lee Drutman, takes a detailed look at those divides and places them in the context of the Democratic and Republican parties. Starting in different places, both Sides and Drutman conclude that questions of race, religion, and American identity were critical to the 2016 outcome, especially among Obama-to-Trump voters.
Whether or not they identified with a party, most people who voted in the 2016 election were partisans. “Approximately 83 percent of voters were ‘consistent partisans,’ ” writes Sides. In other words, they voted for the same major party in both 2012 and 2016. This is the typical case. But about 9 percent of Donald Trump’s voters had backed Obama in the previous election, equivalent to roughly 4 percent of the electorate. Why? The popular answer, or at least the current conventional wisdom, is economic dislocation. But Sides is skeptical. He concludes that economic issues mattered, but no more or less than they did in the 2012 election. The same goes for views on entitlement programs, on trade, and on the state of the economy in general.
What changed was the importance of identity. Attitudes toward immigration, toward black Americans, and toward Muslims were more correlated with voting Republican in 2016 than in 2012. Put a little differently, Barack Obama won re-election with the support of voters who held negative views toward blacks, Muslims, and immigrants. Sides notes that “37 percent of white Obama voters had a less favorable attitude toward Muslims” while 33 percent said “illegal immigrants” were “mostly a drain.”
Nonetheless, writes Sides, “the political consequences in 2016 were the same: a segment of white Democrats with less favorable attitudes toward these ethnic and religious minorities were potential or actual Trump voters.”
Drutman plots the electorate across two axes—one measuring economic views, the other measuring views on identity—to build a political typology with four categories: liberals, conservatives, libertarians, and populists. Liberals, the largest single group, hold left or left-leaning views on economics and identity. Libertarians, the smallest group, hold right-leaning views on economics but leftward beliefs on identity. Conservatives are third largest, with right-leaning views on both indices, while populists—the second largest group—are the inverse of libertarians, holding liberal economic views and conservative beliefs on identity.
Most populists, according to Drutman, were already Republican voters in the 2012 election, prizing their conservative views on identity over liberal economic policies. A minority, about 28 percent, backed Obama. But four years later, Clinton could only hold on to 6 in 10 of those populist voters who had voted for Obama. Most Democratic defectors were populists, and their views reflect it: They hold strong positive feelings toward Social Security and Medicare, like Obama voters, but are negative toward black people and Muslims, and see themselves as “in decline.”
This is a portrait of the most common Obama-to-Trump voter: a white American who wants government intervention in the economy but holds negative, even prejudiced, views toward racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. In 2012, these voters seemed to value economic liberalism over a white, Christian identity and backed Obama over Romney. By 2016, the reverse was true. . . .
[T]here’s another way to read the data. Usually, voters in the political crosscurrents, like Drutman’s populists, have to prioritize one of their chief concerns. That’s what happened in 2008 and 2012. Yes, they held negative views toward nonwhites and other groups, but neither John McCain nor Mitt Romney ran on explicit prejudice. Instead, it was a standard left vs. right ideological contest, and a substantial minority of populists sided with Obama because of the economy. That wasn’t true of the race with Trump. He tied his racial demagoguery to a liberal-sounding economic message, activating racial resentment while promising jobs, entitlements, and assistance.
The bottom line? If you want to see a likely racist and religious bigot, look a Trump voter in the face. Don't be fooled by their feign religiosity or adherence to "Christian values." The truth is that they are morally bankrupt.The good news for Democrats—and the even better news for the populist left—is that unless Trump makes a swift break with the Republican Party, his combined economic and identity-based appeal was a one-time affair. In 2020, if he runs for re-election, Trump will just be a Republican, and while he’s certain to prime racial resentment, he’ll also have a conservative economic record to defend. In other words, it will be harder to muddy the waters. And if it’s harder to muddy the waters, then it’s easier for Democrats—and especially a Democratic populist—to draw the distinctions that win votes.