Donald Trump and the rise of white identity in politics


Eric D. Knowles and Linda R. Tropp in The Conversation:

As whites increasingly sense that their status in society is falling, white racial identity is becoming politicized. Trump’s promise to “make America great again” speaks to these anxieties by recalling a past in which white people dominated every aspect of politics and society. That’s why media outlets from New York Magazine to The National Review have dubbed Trump an “ethnonationalist” candidate.

Hillary Clinton counters Trump’s exclusionary rhetoric with her message that all Americans are “Stronger Together.”

To test our ideas about Trump and white identity politics, we surveyed a nationally representative sample of about 1,700 white Americans. The survey covered racial identities, attitudes and political preferences. In examining the relationship between white identity and ethnic diversity, we chose to focus on an ethnic minority of particular salience in contemporary politics: Hispanics. More than any other group, Hispanics have been in the Trump campaign’s crosshairs.

Do whites from heavily Hispanic neighborhoods show stronger white racial identity? To measure identity, we used a widely used questionnaire. On a five-point scale, participants rated their agreement with items such as “Being a white person is an important part of how I see myself” and “I feel solidarity with other white people.” As shown in the graph below, there is a positive relationship between exposure to Hispanics and white respondents’ sense of racial identity.

And does white identity lead to support for Donald Trump? We examined the relationship between white identity and respondents’ likelihood of supporting Trump for the presidency versus Hillary Clinton or several Republican primary challengers. Consistent with others’ analyses, white identity strongly predicts a preference for Trump.

More here.