In the months leading up to Election Day, a heated debate broke out among political commentators over the source of Donald Trump’s support. Was it driven primarily by economic anxiety, as the early conventional wisdom often argued, or more by racism and other cultural factors?
The debate has continued in the weeks since Trump’s win, and lately the anxiety skeptics seem to be gaining the upper hand. Numerous writers, including some on this website, have noted that obvious measures of economic struggle such as poverty and unemployment were poor predictors of Trump support; indeed, exit polls show that Hillary Clinton won handily among poorer Americans. And whereas in 2012 Mitt Romney won among voters who considered the economy their top issue, Trump lost such voters. Measures of racism and sexism, and markers of social status such as a college degree, did a much better job predicting whom voters would support.