The political and chattering classes, mostly exiled from official positions of power are still trying to figure out why they lost. And so they’ve returned to a debate that never needed to take place: Were Trump’s base of voters motivated primarily by “economic anxiety” or by racism and a host of other backward cultural attitudes?
Emma Green, a staff writer at The Atlantic, summed up the new surveys conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and her magazine.
Evidence suggests financially troubled voters in the white working class were more likely to prefer Clinton over Trump. Besides partisan affiliation, it was cultural anxiety — feeling like a stranger in America, supporting the deportation of immigrants, and hesitating about educational investment — that best predicted support for Trump.
Polling is a notoriously clumsy instrument for understanding people’s lives, and provides only a sketch of who they are. But it’s useful for debunking myths and narratives — particularly the ubiquitous idea that economic anxiety drove white working-class voters to support Trump.