The 2016 US presidential nominee Donald Trump has broken with the policies of previous Republican Party presidents on trade, immigration, and war, in favor of a more nationalist and populist platform. Using detailed Gallup survey data for a large number of American adults, I analyze the individual and geographic factors that predict a higher probability of viewing Trump favorably and contrast the results with those found for other candidates. The results show mixed evidence that economic distress has motivated Trump support. His supporters are less educated and more likely to work in blue collar occupations, but they earn relative high household incomes, and living in areas more exposed to trade or immigration does not increase Trump support. There is stronger evidence that racial isolation and less strictly economic measures of social status, namely health and intergenerational mobility, are robustly predictive of more favorable views toward Trump, and these factors predict support for him but not other Republican presidential candidates.
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Explaining Nationalist Political Views: The Case of Donald Trump
Jonathan T. Rothwell
Gallup, August 11, 2016