The science it out: It is about race

Thanks to this concise tweet by Salon‘s Amanda Marcotte

For alerting me to the piece by her fellow Salon writers Sean McElwee and Jason McDaniel on how it truly has been racism, and not economic angst as so many believe, that has fueled the rise of Donald Trump.

The American National Election Studies 2016 Pilot Study, a presidential primary extension of a long-running election survey, asked 1,200 eligible voters about the election, and their views on race, from Jan. 22 – 28, 2016. The poll had a number of questions designed to measure racial animus.

First, it asked respondents how important their race is to their identity. Second, it asked respondents whether they think the words “lazy” and “violent” describe black people, Muslims and Hispanics, “extremely well,” “very well,” “moderately well,” “slightly well” and “not well at all.” Finally, it included several questions meant to measure what scholars refer to as “racial resentment.” Developed by Donald Kinder and Lynn Sanders in 1996, the concept of racial resentment is designed to capture less overt, but still real, forms of racism. The concept is particularly useful for measuring racism these days, when most racism tends to be “colorblind” or “dog-whistle” racism — that is, racist attitudes that are expressed in a way that is seemingly neutral, but still animates racial anger.

The survey then showed four prompts on racial resentment (which we then combined to a single metric), which each respondent was asked to rate on a 5-point scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”:

Irish, Italian, Jewish, and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Black people should do the same without any special favors.

It’s really a matter of some people not trying hard enough; if black people would only try harder they could be just as well-off as whites.

Over the past few years, black people have gotten less than they deserve.

Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for black people to work their way out of the lower class.

When analyzing this survey data, we threw in a number of statistical controls for individual race, age, income, education, partisan identification, political ideology, level of political interest, church attendance, perceptions of economic performance, and opinions about free trade and whether government should provide fewer or more services. That was meant to isolate the extent to which respondents’ views on race affected their views on the election.

On just about every measure, support for Trump increased along with the measured racial animus…

I know this won’t sit well with a lot of liberals I know, who take pride in the productive conversations they insist they’re constantly having with conservative relatives and acquaintances, but it’s undeniable now. I used to have those talks too. When I worked in a tech field with a bunch of white guys who voted GOP, I’d sometimes feel I had made a breakthrough on, say, health care. I’d get them to concede that it was expensive to treat people for everything in the ER rather than ensuring they had regular access to a doctor.

It would never last, though. They’d go back to watching Fox or listening to their favorite right wing radio host and everything I thought I persuaded them of was seemingly forgotten. Those lazy moochers should get a job and pay for their own health care! That’s the whole point of Fox and those radio stations, by the way. To whip up and constantly reinforce white resentment. It works.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I tried to take white voters in Arizona at their word in 2010 when they claimed to support SB1070 because of crime or undocumented workers driving down wages. I would explain that immigrants, irrespective of legal status, are less likely to commit crimes, and that if they were concerned about the labor market it made more sense to direct their ire at the employers inviting people across the border to work than at the desperate people taking the jobs to support their families. They didn’t care about any of that. They wanted something done about those “illegals” and Jan Brewer, Joe Arpaio, et al. were going to do it.

Trump is poised for a big victory in the Arizona primary today, based on polling and reports of long lines to vote in Republican areas. Some people find this surprising, for some reason. I don’t, and neither do researchers. Call it what it is, racism. Those were nice cars and well-fed attendees I saw at the Tea Party rallies I went to in 2010 and I guarantee the same is true of Trump’s rallies here this year.

2 responses to “The science it out: It is about race

  1. Of course it’s about race.

    Of course Trump would win AZ.

    There’s a reason we’re known as the Hate State.

  2. American Vendetta

    Some of the Trump vote is a middle finger towards the current Republican establishment. The true die hard supporters, however, I would agree on your point. Most die hard Trump people I have spoken with tend to make arguments that eventually show the contempt mentioned here.