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What Drove Trump’s Support

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Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada June 18, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker/Files

Identity Crisis is the definitive study of the 2016 election, and will remain so for a long time. But its essential findings keep getting duplicated by other studies:

Some disproven theories simply refuse to die. Among them is the notion that President Donald Trump‘s 2016 victory was largely due to economic anxiety on the part of blue-collar whites.

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg has made that argument repeatedly of late, citing “the failure of this enormous American prosperity to reach so many people in so many communities,” and Trump’s promises of radical change, as the reasons for the president’s upset win.

But a major study published a year ago found that Trump’s support among non-college-educated whites—arguably the key to his Electoral College success—was driven far more by sexism and racism than by economic anxiety.

Now, a new study that focuses on one key constituency—white people in Iowa who voted for Barack Obama, and later for Trump—comes to that same conclusion.

“Economic distress is not a significant factor in explaining the shift in Iowa voters from Democrat to Republican between 2008 and 2016,” write Iowa State University sociologists Ann Oberhauser, Daniel Krier, and Abdi Kusow. “The election outcomes do not signify [a revolt] among working-class voters left behind by globalization.”

Make America Great Again meant exactly what Trump said it meant.

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