How Attitudes About Immigration, Race and Religion Contributed to Trump Victory

The story of President Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton has been analyzed and reanalyzed, told and retold since November. Is there more to add? The short answer, based on four reports released on Tuesday, is yes, and what the reports say is provocative.

The reports debunk some of the assertions of why Trump won — his criticism of free-trade agreements apparently was not as big a factor as some have suggested — while focusing on the specific role that race, religion, immigration and national identity played in the outcome and particularly how those issues may have influenced voters who switched to Trump after supporting President Barack Obama in 2012.

One of the reports notes that while those factors played a more significant role in 2016 than in 2012, in large part because Trump highlighted them, the ground was already shifting on those issues before Trump. If these issues continue to remain prominent in the national debate, they could further alter the alignment of American politics.

The reports are the first produced by the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, which comprises 20 analysts from think tanks or other institutions across the ideological spectrum. Driving forces in assembling the project were Joe Goldman of the Democracy Fund and Henry Olsen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The findings are based on online surveys, including one after the election with a sample of 8,000 people who had participated in other such surveys in 2011, 2012 and mid-2016. The surveys were conducted by the firm YouGov.

The authors of the reports approach the implications of what happened in 2016 from slightly different angles, examining the appeal of candidate Trump, the multifaceted coalition that came to support him, political divisions that continue between and within the parties, and how certain issues came to prominence in 2016

By Dan Balz for The Washington Post
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