Race Trumped the Working Class in 2016

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There has been a near-infinite amount of analysis about what role white working class voters played in Donald Trump’s victory. Maybe you would like some DATA? Not just your own worthless speculation, that’s wrong? Okay, read on.


A new analysis of voting data by Caroline Freund finds that the fabled angry manufacturing workers of America were not a monolithic voting bloc that got so fed up with The System that they unilaterally propelled Trump into the White House, making this whole election about globalization and trade. She makes a few interesting points:

  • A county-level analysis shows that the presence of manufacturing jobs was not a major determinant of voting patters; rather, the major determinants were 1) Education and 2) Race. “These two factors alone explain more than 70% of the variation in the Republican vote share across counties, as compared with the last election.” Lower-educated voters and whites went for Trump.
  • “And within manufacturing, race mattered greatly: only the predominantly white manufacturing counties were drawn to Trump’s message. Racially diverse manufacturing counties rejected it. These twin factors roughly cancelled each other out.” Race trumped class, causing the votes of these workers as a whole to even out.
  • A way in which counties with large numbers of manufacturing workers did matter in this election: In those counties that had white majorities, Republican voter turnout rose compared to the last election, which may have mattered in a very close race— “The impact of this effect was magnified in crucial swing states, where counties are on average less diverse than the nation as a whole.”

This is not to say that inequality and economic issues did not matter in the election, because voters on both sides were driven in large part by their reactions to these issues. But the overall picture of voting patterns seems to be one in which voters of both parties were angry and dispirited, rather than inspired. Freund concludes, “relatively low voting rates among Democratic voters was a bigger contributor to the results than high voting rates among Republicans. Put differently, Trump did not win the white working class, Clinton lost it.”

Senior Writer. Hamilton@SplinterNews.com