Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America

Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America

So welcome. Let’s go ahead and get
started with our conversation tonight with Professor Michael
Tesler and Professor Jonathan Collins on Identity Crisis– The 2016 Presidential Campaign
and the Battle for the Meaning of America. I’m Susan Moffitt, the
director of the Taubman Center for American
Politics and Policy, where we’re focusing our
research and programming on three themes– the cost of
living, the value of democracy, and the price of security. And we’re delighted to have two
experts on American politics and American democracy
here with us tonight. Michael Tesler is an
associate professor of political science at the
University of California Irvine. He’s published
extensively on this topic. In addition to his latest
book, Identity Crisis, which is the focus of
our conversation tonight, he is also the author of
Post-Racial or Most Racial– Race and Politics in the Obama
Era, as well as Obama’s Race– The 2008 Election and the
Dream of Post-Racial America. You can see Michael’s work also
often in The Washington Post. And I hear him on National
Public Radio on my drives to work in the morning. Michael used to be a faculty
member here at Brown. We miss you Michael. It’s good to have you back. And moderating our
conversation tonight is Jonathan Collins, who’s
a presidential postdoctoral fellow and a visiting
scholar of political science here at Brown. And we’re delighted
that he’ll be joining the faculty at Brown
in the fall in the Education Department. Jonathan has
published extensively on race and on empirical
manifestations of democracy, on education governance,
and on voting behavior. He’s also a regular contributor
in The Washington Post. And you can find him
in Education Week also. Michael and Jonathan actually
have a lot in common. They are both PhD
graduates of UCLA. They’re both
outstanding scholars. They’re both
outstanding teachers. I often ask my
undergraduate concentrators, what courses would you
recommend to other students? What do you think
students should be sure to take before
they graduate from Brown? What professors should
they be sure to take? And when Michael
Tesler was here, they always mentioned
Michael Tesler’s courses. And now even though
Jonathan’s only been teaching here
two years, they always mention Jonathan’s
courses too– so two outstanding teachers, two
outstanding colleagues as well. We’re glad to have you here. So the way this is
going to unfold tonight is Michael will begin with about
a half-hour, 40 minutes or so conversation about his book. He’ll engage in
conversation with Jonathan for about 15 minutes or so. And then, we’ll open
up for your questions. And then, we hope that we can
carry the conversation out into the foyer afterwards. This event is being recorded,
just to let you know. That includes our
question-and-answer period. Will you please join me in
warmly welcoming Michael Tesler and Jonathan Collins. [APPLAUSE] Thank you so much,
Susan, for having me. Thank you for a much
too nice introduction. Thank you to Jonathan
for his participation. So we’re gonna talk
about identity crisis, in particular the role of racial
attitudes in the rise of Trump. I’m going to throw
a ton of data out, so the talk is going to be
broken up into multiple parts. The first part, we’ll talk about
the role of racial attitudes in the election. The next part we’ll be
talking about the role of racial attitudes in
the record diploma divide. We’ll talk a little bit about
the role of economic anxiety. If your faces don’t look too
glossed over from all the data, I’ll talk about Trump and
the role of white identity politics. And then, we’ll conclude
with some results from the Trump presidency– finally, some results on gender
and its heightened importance in the Trump era. All right, when we’re talking
about racial attitudes and Trump, I think it’s
important to know that Trump didn’t come out of nowhere,
that Trump is, if anything, a symptom of this
growing partisan divide by and over race
that predates Trump. And so one of the things I
think is pretty important is the partisan preferences
just became a lot more divided by racial attitudes
in the Obama era. So I say “partisan
preferences,” I’m talking about, vote for president,
vote for Congress, and most importantly, party
identification itself. Also, on kind of
a parallel track, and this I don’t think
is as Obama-specific, is that partisan politics
was also getting more divided by immigration attitudes in
the years leading up to Trump. And we can really see the
break is over Bush immigration policy– Sensenbrenner Bill
in the House, which was a very restrictive
bill wanting to criminalize undocumented immigration
versus the McCain-Kennedy bill in the Senate, which
was backed by W Bush, and that was a more lenient
path to citizenship. And you really start to see
immigration coming to the fore. Also, on top of
racial attitudes, you’re also just having
a growing divide by race. You’re seeing low-educated
racially conservative whites, and we’ll talk a lot
about them today, moving towards the Democrats. You’re seeing racially
conscious African-Americans, meaning African-Americans who
have higher in-group identity scores, moving
towards the Democrats. You’re also having Latinos
and Asian-Americans move to the Democratic Party,
but particular, Asian-Americans and Latinos, who have cooler
feelings towards whites. We’re going to talk
more about that. But this is kind of the
stage that’s being set. I think one of the most
important things when we talk about Trump
is the emergence of attitudes about Muslims
in the partisan divide. This is an Obama-specific
phenomenon. Before Obama, we
didn’t see attitudes about Muslims predicting
partisanship, predicting vote choice. They became a really
important predictor of how you felt
about Barack Obama. And in a lot of ways,
attitudes about Muslims were an easier way to express
ethnic-related hostility to Obama than race. And that is where Donald
Trump enters the picture. And one of the manifestations
of Obama [INAUDIBLE] role of attitudes about
Muslims comes in the form of birtherism, which Donald
Trump was the champion of. I’ll put out this
graph really quick. This graph here is
from April 2011. This poll here, this
Gallup USA Today poll is actually the
poll that compelled Obama to release his
long-form birth certificate. Because, at this time,
it was only about 55% of the public who
was thinking Obama was born in the United States. And they were like, OK, this
has reached a critical mass. We’ve got to release
it after this poll. And one of the things
you can see in this poll is these are Republicans. The only other Republican
asked about in this poll in April 2011 was John
Boehner and Trump. And then they asked, would
they make a good president. This is when Trump was flirting
with running for president. Trump and Romney–
some important things, these other Republicans,
birther beliefs not doing much work
predicting support. For Trump, they are. And these numbers here, these
show the number of respondents in each one of these cells. The important thing to note is
that there are more Republicans here, pretty equal
numbers, in both. And so there was
this large group of ethnocentrism Republicans
who adopted birther beliefs. And this is going to be Trump’s
key foothold into the party and will ultimately propel
him five six years later– oops, I mean, three, four– four, five. All right, let’s go
on to the primaries. I want to do some background
on racial attitudes in the 2016 primaries. One of the things that’s
unique about racial attitudes in the 2016 primaries is
that racial attitudes usually matter more for Democrats
than for Republicans. And part of this has to do with
the nature of their coalitions. Democratic Party has had
African-Americans, whites, racially resentful whites,
racially liberal whites, whereas the Republican
Party is much more homogeneous in both
the demographics and their racial views. So there’s more room for race
to divide the Democratic Party, and that’s historically
been the case. The racial attitudes matter more
for Democrats than Republicans. But one of the things is
that a lot of Republicans was harder to
differentiate yourself from other Republicans
in the realm of race, if we’re talking
about 2012 or 2008. Trump, obviously, does that. This quote by Hillary Clinton,
talking about the megaphone for racial resentment. There was also this
interesting previous work on explicit racial appeals. And what do we think about
explicit racial appeals? Well, going into the
election, the thought was that explicit racial appeals
should be rejected, mostly, but other work shows,
you know, there’s a group who’s OK with
explicit racial appeals. And these are
less-educated people– Southerners, men
and Republicans. And you’ll notice
that that is going to form the key coalition
of support for Trump. So now, I’ll just go and
start hammering you with data. This here, this
racial resentment is a variable I’m going
to use a lot today. This is basically
breaking down, do you think that racial
inequality is due more to structural factors
like discrimination or more to individual
factors like poor work ethic? These are breaking down into
quartiles for Republicans. And one of the reasons you
have to break them down into quartiles is
because there’s virtually no racial liberals
in the Republican Party. There’s no Republicans
who basically think that racial inequality is
due more to structural factors. So this is basically
racial moderates to high racial resentment. And what you can
see is, they’re not doing much work in 2008, 2012. They didn’t split
the Republican Party. Republican primaries
are usually fought on an ideological ground. Moral issues
sometimes get in there more so than racial and
ethnic, but Trump is strongly activating these attitudes. Also, attitudes about Muslims
become super important, and this is really the divide
between McCain and Romney. Also important to note for
attitudes about Muslims, most Republicans
live here and here. Republicans have very overtly
negative views of Muslims. And so this provides a core
source of support for Trump to capitalize on. Moving into the
general election, though, it could be harder
to activate attitudes in the general election
than the primaries. One reason is that we have
these fundamental causes of presidential votes,
such as partisanship and presidential
performance, that could overwhelm other considerations. The other one is– and this was my expectation
going into 2016– was that Obama was
going to put a ceiling on the influence of racial
attitudes in general election votes– so that there was no way that
race could have mattered more in 2016 than it did in 2012. And that’s one of the reasons
I wanted to do this project. I was sick of getting
hate mail, so I wanted to move on and write
something about campaigns. But, no, that was not the case. But also, Obama didn’t
talk much about race. And so Dan Gillion
has an excellent book called Governing with
Words, where he basically looks at how much
presidents talk about race. And Obama talks about race,
at least his first term, less than any democratic
president since FDR. I think also important to note
is that Clinton tracks left of Obama on racial issues. She talks about
this in her memoir. And she says, as a result,
some white voters may have decided I wasn’t on their side. She goes on to say that’s
not identity politics; it’s simple justice. Also, these identity issues–
and we’re saying identity issues, we’re talking about
race, immigration, Islam, gender– these are the issues that
dominated campaign ads. And so my co-author,
Lynne Vavreck, she loves to look at
ads, and she coded them and found that these identity
issues were so much more salient in 2016 than they had
been in previous elections. And important to note that
Americans are paying attention. Americans are well
aware that this is the dividing line of conflict. 85% had heard about the
Muslim ban in December 2015. By contrast, I saw a poll a
week ago that showed like 40% had heard a lot about
the Mueller report. And so this is a very high
level of consciousness. Majorities consistently say
the term “racist” describes Trump in fall surveys. And most importantly,
Americans see a wider divide between the candidates
on race in 2016. Let me show you a graph here
that’s particularly important. So the American National
Election Study always asks, going back to 1972,
rate the Democratic candidate, rate the Republican candidate
on a 1 to 7 scale on how much they support federal assistance
to African-Americans. Here’s the average distance
between 1972 and 2004. It’s pretty
consistent over time. Then, you see this big
jump up in the Obama era and an even bigger
jump up in the Trump era. People are becoming more aware
of the racial differences between the parties. Diana Mutz and Dan
Hopkins have some data showing that there’s also a big
difference between 2008, 2012, and 2016 in where they place
the parties on immigration. So people are
becoming more aware that this is the central
dividing line between the two candidates. And that sets the stage
for racial attitudes to matter even more in 2016
than they did in 2008-2012. Some quick graphs
here, this controls for a whole bunch of stuff– party, ideology, demographics,
all that good stuff. This solid line here
is the 2016 line. These are all
different data sources. These dashed lines are Obama’s. We could see a steeper slope
than on the already enormous slopes in the Obama elections. This here is– these
are the same people now. This previous
graph, I should say, are different people interviewed
at different points in 2016 2008, and 2012. This data here is panel data,
meaning that it interviews the same people over time. This is a survey that
we did in collaboration with the Rand Corporation. They reinterviewed 3,000 people
who they previously surveyed for their American Life Panel. And what we can see, again,
is this gap over here, where you’re seeing the
deflections from Obama to Trump. They tend to be people who
score high in racial resentment. This white ethnocentrism
measure, this is how you rate whites
relative to other groups. Now this looks big. This is a bit misleading
in that most of the people live over here. There are few people who
say, I think whites are great and all of their
groups are horrible. Don Kindler called this,
subtle but consistent white ethnocentrism. Most people have some
ethnocentrism are about here, but not that many
people are like, oh, whites are categorically
better than every other group. If they did, though, they would
be way more supportive of Trump than Obama. Now one of the problems, though,
is that we don’t measure this here until December 2015,
and this complicates things because you don’t know, are
they changing their racial attitudes– and we’ll see some
evidence that they are based on how they feel about Trump– or are they changing
their votes based on their underlying
racial attitudes? And this was nice. And so what we were able to
do– because we were like, we can’t write this book before
we answer this question about, our people being activated
or are they changing? This is sometimes referred to
as “changing sides or changing minds.” And so we commissioned
this big panel survey that reinterviewed 8,000 people
after the election who were previously surveyed in 2011. The nice thing about
this is that we had measures from December
2011 of racial resentment. We had immigration
attitudes, things like whether you
think immigrants are a net contributor or
a net drain on society. And even using
these 2011 measures, we see strong activation,
that the people who are defecting from
Obama to Trump are the people who are
high in racial resentment and high in
immigration attitudes. Also in this Rand
panel, one of the things that I think is particularly
important to note is that a lot of this is a
Trump-specific phenomenon. And so what I’m
talking about here is, we asked in
April 2016, do you vote for Clinton versus Trump? Do you vote for
Clinton versus Rubio? Clinton versus Cruz? Et cetera. And you see that in a Clinton
versus Rubio match-up, things like ethnocentrism
and resentment, they’re going to matter. These are baked into the party
system, especially post-Obama. But Trump, in a
Trump-specific match-up, you’re really saying
racial attitudes doing work, both
low, meaning people who are racial liberals, being
more supportive of Clinton, and people who are high in
racial resentment preferring Trump to other
Republican candidates. All right, so with
that quickness, let’s go on to racial attitudes
and the diploma divide. One of the most interesting
things about 2016 was the divergence
and the emergence of this diploma divide. When we think about
elections in the past, there’s this thing
called uniform swing. The idea behind uniform
swing is that every group swings the same way from
election year to election year. So in 2004 to 2008, every group
is swinging more democratic. From 2008 to 2012, every group
is swinging less democratic, except Asian-Americans
and Latinos, but we’ll leave
that alone for now. What’s interesting
in 2016 is that– and you could see this uniform
swing in this data here. High and low educated,
they swing together. They go down, they go up,
they go down, they go up. And then, in 2016, they
diverge, especially for whites. High-educated whites
go more democratic; low-educated whites go
a lot more Republican. So this is not uniform swing. This is distinct swing. This is opposite
directions swing. And this is very unique. And so we spent a lot of time– all right, how are we going to
explain this diploma divide? Some people are like, oh,
well, it’s economic anxiety. Like, no, I don’t think so. I always say this is
the most important graph for understanding
the 2016 election. This is Pew Research
Center data. Nice thing about this is that
they have tens of thousands of respondents
every year, so these are pretty precise estimates. And what you can
see going on here is this is white
high school or less. And from 1992 up
until 2008, there’s not much difference in how
low-educated whites identify. They were equally likely to
identify with the Democrats or the Republicans. Then, in 2008, they
start to diverge, and that gets really big over
the course of the Obama years, so much so that by 2016,
low-educated whites are 25, 26 points more likely to
identify with the Republican Party. This is who Trump
is going to come– these were voters
who were moving away from the Democratic Party,
who were ripe for the picking, and Trump is going to
come and pick them up. Some college whites
also start to diverge. Interestingly, though,
high-educated whites are moving in the
opposite direction. And if we were to
extend this further, high-educated whites
are moving even further into the Democratic camp. So what is going on here– 2008, a couple of
easy explanations. One is the financial
crisis, the other is Obama. All right, so we argue
that white working class flight is largely about race. And the first graph
I want to show is this graph here of, who
can place the Democratic Party to the left of the Republican
Party on issues of race? And so this goes back to
that previous graph I showed. No college whites, some college
whites, and college grads. And the key group here
is the no college. Before Obama– and this is
pretty consistent across all the years– less than half of
non-college-educated whites knew that the Democratic Party
was the more racially liberal party. College grads were
pretty good about this. And they don’t have any
knowledge gains over Obama. It doesn’t take Obama for
college-educated whites to say, hey, I think
the Democratic Party is more supportive of racial
issues than the Republican Party. But we see huge
knowledge get increases in the Obama years for
non-college-educated whites. Non-college-educated
whites are now able to know that the Democratic
Party is the party that’s more supportive of minority rights. And this has huge implications. One of the big implications
is because low-educated voters tend to be the ones who
are the most intolerant. They have the most
conservative views about race, immigration, Islam. But those views tend to matter
less for them because they can’t connect them to politics. Obama comes along, simplifies
the politics of race, makes it easier
for them to connect their racial views to politics. And this is who you
see start to defect from the Democratic Party
over the Obama years. So this is just a breakdown
of high racial resentment. And you can see, these
are low-educated voters. And they start to have a huge
drop-off from 2008 to 2012. This is Pew data. This is pretty similar to
racial resentment– anti-black discrimination, not rare;
anti-black discrimination is rare. And you’re seeing that
your high-resentment, low-educated voters who
are leaving the party, they’re ripe for
picking up for Trump. And so what this leads to is
racial and ethnic attitudes explaining the diploma divide. So let me explain
what I mean by that. This is the diploma divide. You see, this is
with no controls. This is just the raw data. High school or diploma
less, with college grad. And without controls
in there, it’s a pretty steep relationship,
and it’s consistent, and it occurs in every survey. What also occurs
in every survey, though, is if you control
for racial and immigrant resentment, meaning
if you make it so that low-educated and
high-educated whites have similar racial attitudes
and statistical models, the entire education
divide goes away. And this mediates the diploma
divide unlike anything else. It’s not authoritarianism,
not economic anxiety, not gender attitudes. These attitudes about racial
resentment and immigration are really what’s driving
the diploma divide. What about economic
anxiety, you ask. So perceptions of
economic well-being in the national economy
are significantly linked to Trump’s
support in the primaries. But racial considerations
are much stronger predictors and multivariate analysis. This comes out time after time. I don’t put that much
stock into those, though. What I do put stock
into is what’s happening in the relationship
between economic anxiety and racial resentment in the
years leading up to Trump. This is what we call, in the
book, “racialized economics.” So one of the things
that we see is that in 2004, how you thought
the unemployment rate was doing, it’s not related to your
racial attitudes whatsoever. But, in 2012, when, oh,
it’s Obama’s economy, racial attitudes are– and
this happens a lot in the Obama era– things that haven’t evoked
racial attitudes before, now do. This one here is a
particularly good one since this is panel data. This is 3,000 people who we
interviewed in March 2008, and then reinterviewed
them in July 2012. What’s interesting
is in December 2007, we were already in recession,
so the economy is undoubtedly getting worse. When we’re in July
2012, the economy is undoubtedly getting better. However, if you’re the
most racially resentful, you now think the
economy is getting worse. And so attitudes about
race are doing a lot on how we think
about the economy. Of course, now, it’s
the reverse again, that again this is
another one of our panels. This is December 2011,
and this is July 2017. So it’s now the most
racially resentful who are the most optimistic
about the economy. And so a lot of the way we
are feeling about the economy came down to our underlying
racial attitudes. Also, I think this
one is especially important, is that
our perceptions of economic deserving has
had a lot to do with race. And I will shout out the
eminent political psychologist Tom Pettigrew’s ultimate
attribution error. And what ultimate
attribution error gets at is that when whites struggle
or when an in-group struggles, their troubles are
generally attributed to situational forces,
like outsourcing. When an outgroup, in this
case non-whites struggle, their plight is more
often attributed to dispositional traits
like poor work ethic. My favorite example of this
is from Martin Gilens’s famous book, Why
Americans Hate Welfare. And what he showed was
during normal economic times, the face of poverty is black. During recessions, the
face of poverty is white. Why? Because they are
the deserving poor through no fault of their own. And I thought that
that was pretty– when I read that as an
undergrad, I was like, wow. That’s amazing. And Obama was hip to this. And in his farewell
address, he was like, if every economic
issue is framed as a struggle between the
hardworking white middle class and undeserving
minorities, then workers of
all shades will be left fighting for scraps while
the wealthy withdraw further into their private conclaves. I was watching that. And then, text my
co-authors, Lynn and John– I was like, Obama’s
been reading my stuff! The reason I did is because
I did this Huff’ Post piece a week earlier that
did this simple experiment. So the Huff’ Post does a
survey every now and then through YouGov, and
I was like, let’s put this experiment on this thing. Let’s do half– say,
average Americans, which is a symbolically white
category, and the other half, let’s say African-Americans. What I wanted to do here was get
into the idea of deservingness and all the talk after
the election of Trump and the forgotten men
and women, et cetera. And the results were
ridiculously stark. And so this is who agrees
with the statement, African-Americans have gotten
less than they deserve. The red is average
Americans that have gotten less than they deserve. There’s a number of
really interesting results in this graph. One is that the full
sample, everybody, well, they’re a lot more likely
to think average Americans are getting less than they
deserve than African-Americans. Whites, particularly. African-Americans,
no difference. African-Americans are
equally likely to say that African-Americans
and average Americans are getting their fair share. The real divide,
though, comes over here, between Trump voters
and Clinton voters. Clinton voters are equal. Both groups aren’t
getting their fair share. But Trump voters, 64% vs. 12%,
that most Trump voters think that African-Americans
are getting too much and that that’s really
the divide in 2016. So when people say, are
Trump voters racist? Well, it depends. If you’re talking about,
do Trump voters actively hate other minority groups? Well, I don’t think that
that’s necessarily the case. Do they think that minority
groups are getting more and that hard-working white
Americans are getting less? Yeah, that’s the dividing
line in the Trump era. And Trump’s very good at
exploiting those attitudes. I think I’m going
to skip over this, because I’m already hitting
you with too much information. We can come back to
white consciousness. And, oh, I’ll do this
one graph, because I do think this graph gets at
the economic anxiety and kind of political dissatisfaction. This is during
the Trump primary. This here is October, 2015. So Trump is leading in
the polls at this time but is still only
around 30%, 25%. And they ask this question on
the Public Religion Research Institute poll. Do you think people like me– how well does the government
represent the interests of people like me? And that’s not doing anything. So, like, this idea that
the government isn’t responsive to the people,
I wasn’t doing much work in early Trump support. How well is government
representing the needs of whites? That is doing work. Likewise, this question of,
how worried are you about you or your family members
losing their job? Does a little
work, but not much. This question of,
how likely whites can find jobs because employers
are hiring minorities? That’s the big dividing
line in the primaries. That’s what we call
racialized economics, that it’s not about
self-interest, about how I’m doing. It’s group interest,
about, how well is my group doing vis-a-vis others that is
really the power of economics. So we say, economics
matters most when it’s refracted through race. All right, so this is
how we’ll conclude. Got more data of course. There’s never an
end to the data. And the data says that
the crisis continues. So we have our afterward coming
out sometime later this year. And this is one of the
graphs from the afterword, is on attitudes about
immigration and vote choice for Congress. This should have more
information, but it doesn’t. So this controls for
all the stuff again. And views of immigration here
are measured in December 2011. Views of immigration here
are measured in 2014. This is the same
big panel that we’ve been using for this before. This is a Pew panel
that’s been ongoing. It’s a very valuable resource. It’s called the
American Trends Panel, and we’re seeing the
same thing happen. 2012, vote for House
of Representatives, not doing much. Eh, it’s doing something. But then we’re seeing
this big activation of views about immigration
in vote choice for Congress. What we’re also seeing more of
is growing divides over gender. And so gender is one
part of this story that I feel we give
short shrift to. Part of that is because
of my co-authors. I’ll blame them. But part of it is also
because the attitudinals aren’t doing the same work
as the racial and ethnic ones in predicting vote choice. I do think that part of this
is that one of the things when we’re looking at
these relationships, they’re driven by
both the liberal end and the conservative end. And what you saw in
2016 for gender– and this is where
gender and race differed for Clinton and Obama– Obama always lost at the high
end of racial resentment, but he was able to offset it
through increased minority voting patterns and
racially liberal whites. Clinton loses out on
gender from the sexists, but doesn’t offset it
with female voters, with male voters who have
more liberal gender attitudes. There’s one side of it, whereas
Obama was more two-sided. One of the things
we’re seeing, too, is that attitudes about gender
are becoming more important. Again, these are panel results– white women, especially. Now the good news about this,
at least on this measure here, is that there
are as many white women here as there are all
the way over here. But, again, we’re seeing
attitudes about gender– modern sexism, I should
say, are questions like, women who complain
about harassment cause more problems
than they solve, and women often miss
out on good jobs today due to discrimination. We’re seeing that activated. Kavanaugh hearings also have
an important role to play. And you’re seeing a much
greater relationship. This controls for a whole
bunch of other stuff, including racial attitudes. And you’re seeing– so one
of the interesting things about Kavanaugh, Kavanaugh, by
far, the most unpopular nominee ever for Supreme Court. Part of this is record
Democrat opposition. But even controlling
for partisanship, you see people who are low on– hostile sexism’s a measure
very close to modern sexism– moved from Gorsuch to Kavanaugh. And this plays out in 2016,
where you are seeing– we didn’t see racial attitudes. We saw attitudes
about immigration. We didn’t see racial resentment. Racial resentment’s already
an enormous predictor of how you were voting in
congressional elections in 2012. But for white men,
attitudes about gender aren’t doing that much. Now, we’re getting both sides. Here, we’re seeing
some both-sided action, where low sexism moving
away from the Democrats– I mean, moving away from the
Republicans, high sexism moving towards the Republicans. And then these are just growing
partisan divides over gender. We’re seeing increased
polarization over gender. These modern sexism questions,
Democrats moving one way, Republicans moving the other. And so gender attitudes
are increasingly getting politicized and
dividing the two parties. We’re also seeing growing
tolerance but growing polarization over race
immigration and Islam. And this is a very
persistent pattern across multiple surveys. This is racial discrimination
is the main reason why many black people can’t
get ahead these days. We’re seeing this really strong
movement from the Democrats towards accepting the structural
causes of racial inequality. And this is producing an overall
growing racial liberalism in the American
public, but Republicans have been pretty stagnant. So while it is moving the
country towards growing liberalism, it’s also
increasing polarization. You see a similar thing
with, immigration today strengthen the country because
of their hard work and talent, and the Islamic religion does
not encourage violence more than any other. And you’re seeing this across,
basically, all these questions that involve race
immigration and Islam. You’re seeing growing
liberalism, but growing polarization as well. Republicans are mostly stagnant. Democrats are
moving to the left. All right, that was a lot. But some conclusions
about racial attitudes in American politics
in the age of Trump– the growing partisan
divide by and over race, this is probably
the most important. Trump expands the
growing rationalization of mass politics during
the Obama presidency, although Trump opponents are
becoming significantly more tolerant over time. This, I didn’t talk
about because I skipped over the white identity stuff. We can come back to
it in QA if you want. But Trump could spark
a growing influence of white identity
and partisan politics and, in fact, we
are seeing this. We are seeing white
identity start to emerge in ways
that it didn’t before. One thing that’s also
particular important– and this has really interesting
implications for 2020– is that both
parties are forgoing their longstanding electoral
temptations of race. And this is coined by Don
Kinder and Lynn Sanders, called these “the electoral
temptations of race.” And their argument
was that Democrats have an electoral
temptation where they need to retain these
racially conservative Reagan Democrats, swing voters,
without alienating their non-white voting base. And so their electoral
temptation is racial silence. The Clintons of
the 1990s are kind of the quintessential
example of that. Meanwhile, the
Republican Party needs to appeal to these racially
conservative Reagan Democrats without appearing to
be explicitly racist and have the backlash. So their electoral temptation
is racial code words. And both parties are
moving away from that. You’re seeing Democrats
talk explicitly about racial equality, that so
much so that reparations is now a major issue in democratic
primary politics. And you’re seeing
Republicans speak more explicitly about race,
lots of 2018 ads, not just Trump, but Republicans
explicitly appealing to prejudice. And so that has
dangerous implications. And if this continues,
identity issues should rival ideology is the
dominant partisan cleavage in the age of Trump. This is especially important
because identity issues are emotionally charged
in ways that attitudes about limited
government are not. When you’re talking about what
the marginal tax rate should be, you’re probably not
worried that violence is going to break out. When you’re talking about
who counts as an American, how we should deal with
issues like the border wall, those are intractable,
and those carry with it the possibility for explosive,
explosive polarization, potentially violence. So I’ll leave it
on that happy note. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Wow. Michael, that was fantastic. Per usual, you give us
more data to bite on than we can fit in our mouths. Every time I see
Michael, it’s like this unlimited
bottomless pit of graphs. And to go with the graphs,
very, very great book, very well written. I enjoyed reading it, and I’m
happy to have the opportunity to talk with you about it. I won’t waste too much time
because I want to get to Q&A. But I have a couple of
questions about some things that kind of came
up during your talk, but I just kind of wanted
to know more about. The big thing, to me– [SCREEN RISING] There we go. All right. The big thing that
I found the most– everything was
compelling, but the thing that I thought was
really compelling was the media chapter. You make the claim–
and you back this up– you make the claim
that Trump’s rise is a function of all
the media coverage that he’s getting
during the campaign. And you illustrate, you
show us that consistently during the Republican
primary and then even leading into the general
election, his coverage from the national media, from
television media, was just– this float that sort of
carried him into victory. My question is,
like, I bought it, but I wanted to know
how reconcile with what you say in– I think it’s the second
to last chapter– where you’re
talking about, well, kind of skepticism
towards what’s going on with
Cambridge analytics, and the Russian hacking,
and the potential effect of like, internet ads playing
a role in skewing voters. So you’re skeptical about
this, but you show us how much television
media attention is one of the things
that’s carrying Trump. So I’m curious, how
do you reconcile this as just, different
usage rates of media or, like, what is it
that’s going on here? And so I don’t know
if you wanted to do one question at a time, or– Yeah– [INTERPOSING VOICES] Whatever you prefer. Hey– All right, I’ll take that one. So the media, this was one
of the issues of disagreement among the co-authors,
and probably our biggest disagreement, is that I wanted
to bash the media over the head repeatedly– my co-authors not as much. But, really, stakeout
normative claims about the role of the media
as gatekeepers, and that was– but I digress. And so getting– They make too much
money from [INAUDIBLE].. Believe me, I’ve had
that conversation. [INAUDIBLE] Very true. Very true. But I will say about the
media– and the big difference, I think, comes
from the primaries versus the general election. And what you see
in the primaries is this enormous correlation
between media coverage and polls. And part of that is just– you got 17 candidates. And so, right now, Mayor Pete’s
going to have his moment. He’s in the media. He’s getting some buzz. He’s getting coverage. And this typically happens. And in their prior book, my
co-authors, Sides and Vavreck, did this thing where they talked
about discovery, scrutiny, and decline. And so you have a moment. You have a good fundraising
moment, or a good announcement, or you perform well
in that debate, you start to get
the media coverage, and then you get the momentum. That is often fleeting. And so the question is, why
wasn’t that– so somebody like Herman Cain was a
good example for that. He comes along, he gets the
buzz, gets some scrutiny, and then declines. The question [INAUDIBLE] is, why
doesn’t that work with Trump? He’s getting the media,
he’s getting the scrutiny. Why doesn’t he decline? And that’s where the
media section marries with what I was presenting,
is that it’s not just that Trump’s was this
product of vacuous media hype, but that the media message
was, all this stuff that I was talking to. We called it hunting where the
ducks are in the Republican Party, is that Trump was willing
to hunt where the ducks are. The other Republicans,
not so much. And part of this house to do
with norms of partisanship and also donor networks,
in that Trump is not beholden to the Koch network. He don’t care what they think. Kochs want high immigration. They want easy trade. They want open borders to
an extent, cheap labor. It’s good for growth. So you have these Republicans
who are more confined by that, and Trump is free to
go beyond that and hunt where the ducks are,
speak their language. One of the stories I like
when we were researching the book was, how did Trump come
up with his campaign message? Well, he had some
of his cronies, including Michael
Cohen, listen to like 1,000 hours of talk radio. And what were they talking
about on talk radio? They were talking
about immigration. And so Trump is able– that’s how he performs
his message is he knows that the base is up
in arms about immigration, and he goes and hunts
where the ducks are. In the general election,
it’s different. And so in the general election,
the more media coverage a candidate got, the worse
they were doing in the polls. And so this is because
they were both so negative that when Trump was in
the media, he was losing. Clinton, there’s
only very few times in the entire election cycle
where Clinton gets more media coverage than Trump does. This was Comey’s
first announcement of not bringing
charges, but saying she acted extremely recklessly. This was the 9/11
week, where you have both basket of
deplorables and her fainting, and then Comey, too,
October 28th number– the rest of the time, the
more Trump is in there. And so we basically break
it down where primaries, media is amazing. There is no bad media
in the primaries, especially if it’s
conveying this message. And this is what Trump
is criticized on. So after his June 2015
rapist announcement speech, what do you see? You see Macy’s drop him. You see Miss Universe drop him. You see NBC drop The Apprentice. This is all negative coverage. But if you are where most
Republican voters are on issues of immigration,
that’s all good. That is great publicity. That’s the story. So it’s very much a [INAUDIBLE]
story of information plus predisposition. Great answer, Michael. I could talk about that
aspect of it all day, too, and also how Hillary Clinton is
spending more on campaign ads, she’s putting out
more campaign ads, but it also seems like
campaign ads aren’t doing the same type of work
that just media was doing, or at least staying out of the
media to an extent was doing. Yeah, and so one of the cool
things about this project is that our co-author,
Lynne Vavreck, she, along with John
Geer at Vanderbilt, was doing this amazing
real-time ad testing, where each week they would take the
ads that were being shown, and they would do very large,
randomized experiments. And those, it was hard. I mean, and that’s one of the
things is the persuasion– persuasion in primaries is easy. You have 17 candidates, and you
don’t have a partisan anchor. This is what I was explaining
to my public opinion class last quarter. I was like, well,
if you don’t like the way Elizabeth Warren
handled her DNA issue, great. Thank you, next. And you just cross it off and
you go on to the next person. And so it’s very easy– preferences are very
malleable in primaries. In the general
election, it’s hard. And so we’re in this world
where the economy seems to be mattering less, ads
seem to be mattering less, and it’s because of this
intense polarization. Well, what I found interesting
that was also going on– or I guess maybe wasn’t
going on was that– and this is kind of a shift
to the racial attitude stuff– that the diploma divide
is doing more work than what
traditionally you would expect to be doing the
work, which is region. So it seems like the results are
consistent across, whether it’s whites in the South versus
the North, versus the West, Northeast– so did you do any specific test
around region and population density? And just give me your
explanation of why you think, just why education was doing
more work than these more geographic things, or
if they’re interacting, or kind of what’s the story– So they are interacting, and
you show it at the county level, you can showed at
the state level, that the enormous relationship
between 2012 to 2016– and what proportion
of a state or county has is low-educated whites. There is a rural urban divide
that we don’t get into as much. Going back to your question
about, why is it education– and so one of the things
that always comes up, what about income? Income is not
predicting these shifts. It’s education. And I think it is because
education correlates so well with these racial attitudes. The urban-rural divide doesn’t. And so this is one of the things
we don’t get into that much. You can knock out that diploma
divide with a variable or two of racial attitudes. You throw the urban-rural divide
in there, and it still pops. And so we weren’t quite certain
how to square that circle, and so we’re like, that
seems more complicated than– Kathy Cramer has excellent
book on this topic. And so we were like, let’s
stick with education. And I do think it
is education because of the cultural
connotations of education. I’m going to throw
these last couple out, and then we’ll go to
Q&A. How do you explain, kind of in hindsight, why less
educated whites voted for Obama before voting for Trump? You kind of frame it as
like, well, here are– racial attitudes helps
us really explain why less-educated whites were
moving from Obama to Trump, but why were people with
negative racial attitudes voting for Obama
in the first place? And this kind of brings
us back to Obama’s Race and some of your previous work. But I wanted you to say
something about that. Was it that the
economic evaluations had not been racialized? Was it Romney’s, relative
to Trump, his mild racial messaging? Was it Obama’s high
media coverage that he got during 2012, as
being an incumbent? Because you talk about
incumbency advantage. Or was it kind of
something else? Also, if you had to make
a choice, what would you say was doing
most of the work? Would you say it would
be white identity, which is a feeling that your
group is under threat, or racial resentment and
having negative attitudes about racial and
ethnic minorities? If you had to choose
between the two– I mean, obviously, I’m sure
there’s a lot of overlap, intersection here. But if you had to
disentangle and say, OK, this is the
one that I really want to address that
I think would do the most work,
what would that be? And related to
that, what will it take to get racism out of
presidential campaigns? Right? Little conversation
starter, right? So economic growth
became racialized. So can you check that off? Racial solidarity won’t get you
media attention on the campaign trail. Probably. We saw the deficiency
of party discipline in the invisible primary story. So what do we do? How do we actually
get Trump’s messaging around negative
racial attitudes, as kind of like “meat to
the base” type of behavior that you document
that’s going on, how do me get this out
of presidential politics? OK, those are three
acts some questions. Going to the racially
resentful Obama voters. The answer, I think
there, is partisanship. Partisanship is a
lagging indicator. It’s hard to move, meaning that
changes and partisanship are slow over time. And you saw that with the
Pew graph, if you remember, where it starts off 2008 and the
low-educated whites are equal, and then they slowly divide. And that tends to be
how partisanship moves. It’s crazy that partisanship
is thought to be the unmoved mover, but it isn’t,
meaning that partisanship can and does change. And so in 2008, you
still, you had way more racially resentful
Democrats than you do now. And when you’re
talking about anything in a presidential election,
partisanship usually wins out. So those racially
conservative, those were Democrats and
Democratic leaners, and they were leaving the party. And so I think that that’s
the best explanation for that. The question of racial
attitudes and white identity is a really good one. I tend to not like these
race-variable type of analysis. And so you can answer that
question two different ways. One is in terms of
overall magnitude. There’s no question that
racial resentment is a stronger predictor than white identity. However, what is
maybe something that is more unique and
more remarkable is that white identity
mattered at all in 2016. And this is because,
historically, white identity has been a weak predictor
of vote choices. And this makes sense
when you think about, where does identity gain power? Identity gains power from
discrimination, deprivation, and isolation. If you’re white,
you’re in the majority. Not only are you
in the majority, but you have a share of wealth
and political power that’s far greater than your
numeric majority. And so there is less
reason to feel threatened and to organize around
that collective identity. And so, historically, you have
not seen white identity matter much in public opinion. Under Trump, it does. And so it still isn’t
dividing the parties as much as these racial
attitudes, but the fact that it’s mattering
at all is probably more remarkable than
the relationship between racial attitudes. The last question
about when will racism disappear from campaigns– when it’s no longer in
one party’s interest to pursue that message. And so some of these
trends that are happening, it’s going to be
eventually very difficult for national Republicans
to win on overt racism. What I do worry
about, though, is increased geographic
polarization, where, on a national level,
it’s a losing strategy, but in your home district
or in your home state– and we are getting into a place
where the Senate will become increasingly
unrepresentative, where white states with low populations– I think I saw some number where
it’s like 80% of the population will be represented
by 25% of the Senate. I don’t know if that’s right. But there was this good
New York Times piece by David Leonhardt
that said, the Senate is affirmative action
for white people. And that is because
they’re, oh, places like where I live that
are very racially diverse, have two senators for
however million people. And so I do fear
that you’re going to see an increasing divide
between local and national. And so when it’s no longer in
the party’s interests to appeal is when you will see it then. The question is, I
don’t think it will not be in their interest in
a long time, at least on the state and local level. A glimmer of hope, and
you snatch it away. We’ll open it up for questions. This is a really, really
fascinating topic. I could go all day. So if you don’t have
questions, I could keep going. So let me open it up. Hi. Hi. It’s been said that– We have a mic? Oh, we have a mic. It’s been said that the
white males are in decline and the last election,
’16, was their last gasp. Do your numbers support that? Oh, yes and no. So, on the one hand, the
influence is declining. And the other hand, whites
and low-educated whites are still an
enormous voting bloc. And I think really importantly
is that they’re efficiently distributed, meaning
that we waste a ton of votes in California. And when you’re
looking at places that have a lot of
low-educated whites, those tend to your
more swing states. And so from a
national perspective, overall, yes, their
influence is waning. Their influence should
continue to wane. But they are
efficiently distributed for both the electoral
college and the Senate, congressional districts
to a lesser degree, but still better,
more efficiently distributed than the
democratic coalition. And so that, along with
potential rules changes, potential lead
the way the courts will interpret
election rules changes, those could make it
hard, even with declining numerical support to have
their influence wane. And so– Were they to do away with
the electoral college? Were they to do away with
the electoral college, I don’t think there’s any doubt
that their influence would wane, and I think that
that’s why you will never see the electoral college
be done away with. Thank you. So I think I understood what
you were saying with the graphs, and it was very
convincing and persuasive. You know, in my heart,
I always wonder about– and I know this
isn’t your thing, but I always wonder about,
will a woman ever be elected. And a couple of things
you said about gender sounded– well, one thing
sounded like, gender bias went along with racial, and
another graph seemed as though it didn’t matter. But I’m wondering, do you know,
do you have any suspicion, do you know of any
studies on this? Because, I mean, I just– in my heart, I feel like
possibly people who are racist are also– there’s an overlap with sexism. And you know, I I’ve
just watched this. And I’m like, OK,
Obama got elected. What will it take for a woman? I just feel like– all of that. Can I actually ask
[INAUDIBLE] finger on that? So one of your graphs, and
I’m not sure I read it right and that’s why I have a
question related to hers, it looked like it was actually
the white women with greater racial resentment who had
higher support for Trump than the white men. Is that true, or was I
not reading the graph– I think it was
sexism graph, yes. So it’s actually women that
are driving it more than men? So there are not
that many white women who are in that most sexist. But, yeah, and this is something
that we do give Clinton props for in her memoirs,
where she said, hey, sexism just didn’t
hurt me among the men. There were a lot of women
who held these sexist views. Going back to your question,
I think that it’s undoubtedly the case that Clinton
was hurt by gender more than Obama was hurt by race. And so, in my first
book, Obama’s Race, which is about
the 2008 election, we have a chapter
on race and gender. And one of the things
that is striking is that when it comes to
racial attitudes versus gender attitudes, there’s no
contest between the two, so much so in fact that
the sexists in 2008 were actually more likely
to support Hillary Clinton, and this is because racial
attitudes and gender attitudes are correlated. And when you control
for racial attitudes, that relationship goes away. But on net, the more you
thought that women’s place was in the home, the
more likely you were to support Hillary
Clinton in 2008. So we get into the
distinction, though, between gender
attitudes and then kind of race versus
gender penalty. And so we have a
section in that book that’s called “the
unquantifiable impact” of gender. And this is where I wanted
to push my co-authors to go more on, of what
a difficult landscape it is for a woman to navigate. And you saw Hillary Clinton
do this in both the elections, having a hard time
navigating– and so [? long ?] literature
and gender and politics on the double bind,
meaning that women have to worry about being
tough enough or smart enough, but then likable enough. My wife is a professor
in political science, and it is very
applicable to professors. We live the double bind. I have enormous male
privilege versus what she has to do as a professor. And that carries over
into gender strategy. And so one of the
things in 2008 is Hillary Clinton’s chief
strategist Mark Penn, who is an awful human
being, but here is– your role model needs to
be Margaret Thatcher, Iron Lady, and the adjectives used
to hear about her were not of warmth and humor. They were on strong
top leadership. That’s so hard to
navigate those worlds, especially when
you’re Hillary Clinton and had been in the
game for so long. I do think other
candidates in 2016 may have an easier
time navigating that than Hillary Clinton did. Hillary Clinton just got
so many friggin’ wars over gender and politics
that it’s hard for her to change identity and move
from one message to the other. In the book also– and this is
something that I did succeed and get in– we talked about a lot of other
ways that gender, I think, affected Clinton. Media coverage, undoubtedly. This is something
she talks about. And then also– and there is
some research on this that supports the idea– that women are held to higher
ethical standards than men. And so women are punished
more for moral and ethical transgressions. And so we have one graph
in the book that shows, over time, people thought
Trump was more honest, his honesty rating goes up,
Clinton’s honesty rating goes down, to the point where
Clinton is rated as less honest by the end of the campaign
than Donald Trump. How could any person be less
honest than Donald Trump is the question. And I do think it is because
Hillary Clinton, as a woman, is punished more harshly
for certain transgressions, even though her
transgressions, I would argue, are not in the same
ballpark, league, stadium as Donald Trump’s. About age and how that plays
into these attitudes about race and gender. And on the one hand,
it’s tempting to think like, well, younger
people are coming in, attitudes are
changing, and then you see all these like
[INAUDIBLE] kids, and it’s like, I don’t know. Yeah, so, Debbie Schildkraut,
who’s at Tufts, is– she’s a brilliant
political scientist. She’s working on this
question right now. And she’s framed
the question around, are the young people
going to save us? And her answer is
categorically no, that you can prime these
attitudes among young people to the same degree. And there’s also
a book coming out that’s called the Racial
Stasis by Candice Watts Smith and Chris Desante. And they look at youth
attitudes over time. And what they found is that
this current generation is not particularly racially liberal. I do think this
could change, though. Because regardless of
how you feel about race, young people do not
like Donald Trump. There is something in political
behavior research that’s called generational
imprinting, the idea that you are in your formative
years right now. What is happening in
American politics right now is going to have more
influence on your partisanship and political beliefs
as a young person than my political
beliefs as an old person. And because young people
hate Donald Trump– I shouldn’t say hate,
but it’s basically a 70/30 breakdown in support
among young people for Donald Trump– that even if you weren’t
necessarily the most racially liberal person,
you look and say, I don’t want to be
associated with that guy. I do think that
some of these trends where you’re showing
greater racial liberalism– I haven’t looked at them
by age, but I would not be surprised if young people
are becoming more over time. And so I don’t know if Debbie
Schildkraut has looked at it since the Trump presidency. So I’ll give you wishy-washy. There’s reason to think about. There’s a question behind you. So race is becoming a
more important factor in determining
political behavior? Is that because the racial
attitudes have changed, or because some people
are just becoming more effective at
digging into it and using it as a basis for
forcing political change? It’s a phenomenal question,
and the answer is both. And what you saw
during the Obama era was more this activation. There was less change in the
racial attitudes and more activation, that people
were able to use them more. You also see this with Trump. These pre-Trump attitudes
are becoming more predictive. But you’re also seeing
changes in racial attitudes in a way that’s
pretty extraordinary. And so one of the things
about racial attitudes is they are thought
to be much, much more difficult to change than– Rose has some stuff on
outgroup attitudes or genetics. So they’re socialized early. They have a heritable
component to them. And so the fact that they are
changing is pretty remarkable. So short answer is both. That begs the question, why
are racial attitudes changing? So I would say a
number of reasons. I would boil this down to
basically three main factors. One is the fact that
there’s a more– there’s a stronger emphasis
on racial inequality today than I’ve seen in my lifetime,
at least, in that things like Black Lives Matter, things
like the Democratic Party now having a strong position
on racial attitudes, that that’s very important. And so this book
that I mentioned, Racial Stasis– what they
argue for the racial status are a couple of things. One is that this generation,
this newer generation, is more removed from the
civil rights struggle, and so [INAUDIBLE] had
previously seen racism as less of a salient thing. Now, with heightened awareness,
social movements, Trump, that’s becoming– that is helping to
break the stasis. The other is Trump. And so this is one of
the things that we saw, is that people really
dislike Donald Trump. And so the people who
like Donald Trump, well, you can’t really make
them more racially conservative, because they top out. What you need to
worry about, though, is that attitudinally, though,
does that change to behavior? And there is some
evidence that, you may not be able to make them more
racially conservative, because they’re already
off the charts on that, but maybe you can
motivate them to action. You had a lot of racially
conservative Democrats, though. And they dislike Trump
for a lot of reasons. And they become more
racially tolerant. The third is this idea
thermostatic public opinion. And so one of the things
we see all the time– health care is a
great example of this. During the Obama years,
Obamacare is unpopular. It’s about minus 10 points
throughout net negative. And then Trump says, I’m
going to get rid of Obamacare. And what happens? Well, public opinion
starts to pull against it. And this happens consistently. It’s a very consistent
trend in aggregate opinion. And so I do think
the fact that Trump is pushing so hard
on these issues that the public, like a
thermostat, pushes back. And so we historically
haven’t seen as strong– Paul Kellstedt, who used
to be a professor here– he has some work
on racial attitudes and thermostatic public
opinion, but they hadn’t exhibited such strong pushback. And I think that is because
nobody was pushing on them, at least in the last
several decades, as hard as Donald Trump was. And so I would say
increased efforts by activists in the Democratic
Party, hatred of Trump, and thermostat
public opinion are what’s helping to
change these attitudes. Question here and then– To kind of connected
the things about media– you’re clear in saying
that the media helped Trump during the election process
more in the primaries. How do you think it’s helped
him since he’s been elected or hurt him? And, secondly,
along the same line, you’ve got kind of a reversal
for the ’20 election, in that we’ve got at least 17
and counting Democrats on the other side and
probably only one candidate on the Republican side. Yeah, and so I think at least
for the Trump presidency, not that much. And the stability of
Trump’s approval ratings are astounding. And you see dips every now
and then, and that is media. But when we’re talking about
Trump’s overall approval and you’re thinking of something
like, Donald Trump saying, I am going to shut
down the government. I’m taking responsibility
for shutting down the government when
70% of the people think you should not
shut down the government. And that’s only changing his
opinion by three points or so. And this is the same on
Mueller, is that Mueller is not going to make
Trump more popular, and this is probably a little
dip, and, I would imagine, Trump’s media coverage might
be a little more favorable, but attitudes about
Trump are so baked in. And I think this will
change during the campaign once it’s a one-on-one match-up. And so one of the things that
you saw over the campaign is that– and this could be
[INAUDIBLE]—- is that Trump’s– when Trump was in the
news doing crazy stuff, like criticizing the Khan family
or criticizing Alicia Machado or something crazy– John McCain– John McCain– you
would see Republicans. They were the ones who
were driving these changes in Trump’s poll numbers. And Republicans were
like, whoa, I don’t know. I don’t want to be
associated with that guy. And so they would leave. And then as soon as that story
would fade, they’d come back. And this was the
good timing for Trump is that, they had left him
after the first debate. They’d left him even more
after Access Hollywood, which is early October, and
then they come back, and then Comey helps bring
them even further back. They may have come
back regardless. So the question is, are
those Republicans still going to move around over
the election when bad stories come about Trump? I’m not sure they will. They haven’t over the
course of the presidency. So I don’t think
there’s as much room to move the needle anymore,
because opinions of Trump are so fixed. Trump’s not getting credit
for the economy, either. And so there was a fake poll– I don’t know if you saw
that Trump tweeted out, where 58% approval
on the economy, 55%. The 58% approval on
the economy was real; the 55% approval was fake. It was 43% approval. But there is this
disconnect, and we show in the Obama years
and the Trump years, that he’s not getting
credit for the economy. And I think that that is
because attitudes about– there’s nothing
that could happen right now that’s going to change
a lot of people’s opinions about Trump. For the Democrat, though,
it might be different, especially who is new– if it’s a Biden
and Trump match-up, there’s probably not
much wiggle room there. But if it’s a new candidate,
if it’s Mayor Pete, or Kamala Harris, who
people don’t know as well– then, I think there could be. For the Democratic
primary, a lot is going to be on who starts
to get the media attention. And so the debates in
June will be important. Who performs well is going
to get more media attention, and they will likely see
a surge in the polls, whether that will be
lasting or not depends on, is there substance behind it? And are they able to able
to withstand the scrutiny? We’ve got a question
here in the back. Thanks for your talk. I was just wondering
how this populist trend and the associated
racial and gender trends compare to populist
movements in other countries. And how do those
populist trends resolve? And do we have any hope? Unfortunately, my knowledge is
embarrassingly Amerocentric. So we have my comparativist
colleagues like to give me a hard
time about this, that we have this whole book
and that we have exactly a page and a half on European trends. There does seem to be
similarities, in particular. The activation of white
identity in European politics is a very, very strong predictor
of how you felt about– how you felt about Brexit. I’ve seen a couple
papers on Brexit that have a similar type of
racialized economic story, where it’s not how well
you think that you’re doing economically that was
predicting support for Brexit; it was how do I think whites are
doing vis-a-vis other groups. And so my guess is
that it would be that these trends would
be pretty similar, but, unfortunately
I don’t know enough. How are we on time? Am I the last question? Hello, Professor Collins. I haven’t totally figured
out how to ask this question, so I’ll just give you the
scenario I’m thinking of. So I study education here. I’m a senior. I’m training to be a teacher. And I’m moving to rural
Idaho next year as a teacher into a district that has
8% of the population– of the adult population
has a bachelor’s degree, and it’s majority
white, and it’s just kind of like that
Trump-voter identity, basically. And I’m wondering about
students that I’ll be teaching who have
gone through high school in this Trump era
and beforehand. And I think the school
district has like a 20% to 30% college go-on rate. So those students who
have grown up in this area with parents who most
likely are strongly Trump supporters, and then go
to college, that diploma divide, I’m really curious
what you think that will look like after
students who’ve grown up in the Trump era, then
some percentage of them go on to college? Yeah, it’s a great question. It’s a hard question. What’s hard about that
the role of education in racial attitudes
is that nobody really knows what’s going on there. There’s this big
education divide. Is it because you’re socialized
into greater tolerance? Well, then, that make
it hard in terms of– so my mentor David Sears, he
did this study of attitudes over the course
of UCLA freshmen. And so he tracked them, they
looked at them time and time. And what does he find? Well, he finds that they
become more racially liberal over the course of college. Well, that’s UCLA. And so what if it was,
I wanted to do this once when I was here, and I had
a friend in grad school who’s starting BYU,
and I was like, we should do the same thing. I should track Brown students. You should track BYU students. Will they be the same? And so it could be a
socialization component to it. It could be a teaching
tolerance component. I have a colleague
Sean Rosenberg at UCI who thinks it’s a cognitive
component, that when you learn more complex ways of thinking,
you tend to think in terms of, hey, there are
reasons for inequality that are more complex
than this person isn’t trying hard enough. And so I wish I had the answer. It’s a great
question, and it’s one where, if you
could untangle, you would make a huge contribution
to social science. Well, thank you for all
of your contributions to our understanding tonight
and to social science. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]

4 thoughts on “Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America

  1. This is just blaming Trump on identity politics and racism. It's garbage. I figured this would be garbage when I heard WaPo

  2. Assumption: Trump Supporters are racist.
    Fact: Many Trump supporters also voted for Obama.
    Topic of research: Why racists voted for Obama (facepalm)

    Incidentally, here are a couple things Obama and Trump have in common.

    Both Presented themselves as anti-war and promised to reduce Americas military adventures overseas.
    Both Promised to do something about the cost of prescription drugs
    Both took a firm stance against illegal Immigration
    Both won Democratic contests against Hillary

    I could go on…

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