Fear of losing cultural dominance, not concerns about the economy, drove white, Christian and male voters to choose Trump in the 2016 election, a new study shows.
Published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy on Sciences, the study found that oft-cited “economic anxiety” wasn’t the driving force behind Trump’s election — it was fear of a future with less white male privilege.
According to the “New York Times,” a University of Pennsylvania professor analyzed 1,200 questionnaires completed by voters in 2012 and 2016. Among people who switched their vote from Democratic to Republican in 2016, losing a job, earning less income or believing the economy was worse didn’t explain a vote for Trump. Neither did being unemployed or living in a manufacturing town.
“It wasn’t people in those areas that were switching, those folks were already voting Republican,” said study author Diana Mutz, a professor of political science and communications.
Instead, she found that people who believed in “social dominance orientation,” or the idea that a social hierarchy was good and necessary for society, were more likely to vote for Trump.
“It used to be a pretty good deal to be a white, Christian male in America, but things have changed and I think they do feel threatened,” said Mutz.
Mutz also looked at a separate 2016 University of Chicago study, which showed little correlation between Trump support and worries about retirement, medical bills or education costs. However, it did show a connection between Trump voters and the belief that “high-status groups,” like whites, Christians and men, faced more discrimination than “low-status groups” such as women or Muslims.
These aren’t the first studies to reach this conclusion. Last year, a Public Religion Research Institute study of more than 3,000 people found that a “fear of cultural displacement” motivated white working-class voters to support Trump.