John Sides in The Washington Post's Monkey Cage:
A sense of victimhood among whites was ascendant even before Trump’s candidacy. As sociologist Arlie Hochschild documented in her extensive conversations with rural whites in Louisiana, there was a pervasive sense that the beneficiaries of affirmative action, immigrants and refugees were “stealing their place in line,” cutting ahead “at the expense of white men and their wives.” In Hochschild’s phrase, these people felt like “strangers in their own land.”
This sentiment showed up in polls as well. In 2011-2012, 38 percent of Republicans thought that there was at least a moderate amount of discrimination against whites, according to American National Election Study surveys. That figure jumped to 47 percent in the ANES study in January 2016. Similarly, an October 2015 Public Religion Research Institute poll found that nearly two-thirds of Republicans thought that “discrimination against whites has become as big of a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.”
These views were crucial to Trump’s rise. In March 2016, the political scientist Michael Tesler and I showedthe importance of “white identity” during the Republican primary. Trump did particularly well among whites who strongly identified as white, who thought whites suffered from discrimination, who thought whites were losing out on jobs to minorities, and who thought it was important for whites to work together to change laws that were unfair to whites.
Indeed, in further analysis that we’ve done, a strong sense of white identity has emerged as one of the most potent — if not the most potent — predictors of support for Trump in the primary. Support for Trump depended far less on personal economic anxiety — “I’m afraid of losing my job” — than on a distinctly racialized anxiety: “I think minorities are taking jobs from people like me.”