Who sees an hourglass? Assessing citizens’ perception of local economic inequality

Abstract

A prominent feature of Donald Trump’s campaign for president was the use of racially inflammatory rhetoric and fear over immigration—specifically from Mexico—to galvanize the electorate. Despite the commonly accepted assertion that hostility toward Mexican immigrants was an important attractor of core supporters to his base, analysts and academics alike have failed to explore the role that environmental indicators of perceived threat from immigration, such as residing in an area with a growing Latino population, played in generating support for Trump early in his campaign. We demonstrate that residing in a high-Latino-growth area is predictive of support for Trump following, but not before, his utterance of inflammatory and bellicose comments about Mexican immigrants. Our results suggest that, in addition to the importance of racial resentment and economic frustration, support for Trump in the early campaign period represented an adversarial reaction among Americans to Latino-led diversity.

Publication
Research & Politics