Why Obama voters became Trump voters

There weren’t a ton of those, but definitely enough to swing states like PA, MI, and WI.  Nice analysis from Political Scientsts Sean McElwee and Jason McDaniel looking at this and other questions.  Short version: attitudes towards diversity:

The CCAP data indicate that 9 percent of Obama 2012 voters switched to Trump in 2016, and about 5 percent of Romney 2012 voters defected from Trump by voting for Hillary Clinton, and 6 percent voted for another candidate. Perceiving growing racial diversity as a threat strongly predicts Obama to Trump vote switchers, and more positive attitudes towards diversity predict the probability that a Romney 2012 voter would defect from the Republican nominee in 2016. The chart below shows that among whites most accepting of diversity there was a predicted 33 percent chance of defecting, compared to a 2 percent chance for whites with the most negative views about rising diversity. Among whites with the most positive views of rising diversity, the model predicts a less than 2 percent chance of an Obama voter’s voting for Trump. This compares to a 50 percent chance of voting for Trump among whites with the most negative views of rising diversity. Moreover, our analysis indicates that these attitudes had a stronger effect on vote switchers than any other variable, including racial resentment and attitudes towards immigration.

I don’t doubt that these racial views have interesting interactions with feelings of economic anxiety, etc., but if there is one consistent thing through all the polling and election data, it is that racial views were very important in Trump’s win.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

6 Responses to Why Obama voters became Trump voters

  1. rgbact says:

    IOW, they’re racist deplorables. I’m sure with a few more smarmy academics calliing them that, Democrats will be well on their way to solving their rural white problem

    • Steve Greene says:

      Why do you hate data? Are you really going to deny the role of racial attitudes?

      • rgbact says:

        No. I just think ascribing the worst motives for why people vote is divisive and a lame copout, But if you really think Americans are hopelessly racist and hateful and vote mostly on that, then I guess theres no point in democracy and we should discuss ways to limit voting. But, I’d like to think better of voters.,,,even if its naïve

      • Steve Greene says:

        You’ll notice, I almost never talk about “racism” from these data, but rather “racial resentment” and “white ethnocentrism.” I would argue it is willfully blind to ignore the clear role these attitudes play in politics.

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    Are we to reject data and accept alternate reasons for what was important to people when they voted? The data ascribed these motive.
    We have to call it by its name in order to meet and challenge it, don’t we? The right sure thinks so as in “radical Islamist terrorists”.
    The point in preserving democracy is the hope that these racial anachronisms are less seen among the youngest generations.

    • rgbact says:

      Sure, if you plan to “meet and challenge it” with ideas that appeal to voters concerns. But if you’re just engaging in smug elitist feel good exercises to show how enlightened you are and how disgusting other Americans are….not so much. Based on prior experience…I expect it’ll be way more of the latter.

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