In the year since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, many have continued to debate what motivated those who voted for him. We wanted to understand Trump voters among millennials, the generation that will make up the largest share of the voting-eligible population in the upcoming 2018 midterms. Most millennials voted for Clinton, as predicted.
But when we disaggregate the millennial vote by race and ethnicity we find some interesting things — including, notably, that 41 percent of white millennials voted for Donald Trump in 2016.
Two popular explanations have emerged post-election: 1) economic anxiety, and 2) racial resentment. Many commentators have argued that a sense of economic loss drove many white working-class voters toward Trump. Meanwhile, here at the Monkey Cage, Michael Tesler has explained that support for Trump was especially linked to racial resentment.
Examining our data from the GenForward Survey, we find a hybrid explanation. First, white millennial Trump voters were likely to believe in something we call “white vulnerability” — the perception that whites, through no fault of their own, are losing ground to other groups. Second, racial resentment was the primary driver of white vulnerability — even when accounting for income, education level or employment.
The Democrats have a moral responsibility to alleviate the very genuine economic problems of rural America, and the Medicaid expansion was a good start in the states where the expansion as ineptly re-written by John Roberts was allowed to operate. But as the Medicaid expansion also indicates, there’s no point in kidding ourselves that this will necessarily reap substantial political benefits.