Study shows Trump supporters’ racial bias

Originally published in Golden Gate Xpress on Oct. 17, 2016.

Study shows Trump supporters’ racial bias

It’s been a month since Hillary Clinton publicly expressed regret for grouping half of Donald Trump’s supporters into a “basket of deplorables,” saying they are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.” While NPR may say that there is no data to support Clinton’s accusations, Jason McDaniel, an associate professor of political science at SF State, and Sean McElwee, a policy analyst at Demos Action, find the allegations to be true in their analysis of a study conducted earlier this year.

McDaniel and McElwee analyzed the data released by the American National Election Study Series, a study funded by Stanford University and the University of Michigan. The sample included 1,200 U.S. voters, and is the first in the 21st century to examine people’s feelings and thoughts toward police use of force, stereotyping, race and racial consciousness.

“I think there is a lot of racial resentment out there, but Americans like to believe that they are not racist,” said McDaniel, who published two articles this year using the collected data of white respondents identifying as Republicans.

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The first article, published in March, measured stereotypes and racial resentment linked to Trump’s popularity, which McDaniel compared with those who supported Marco Rubio.

The second article, published in May, showed the attitude of Trump supporters toward different groups in the country where “Trump’s blend of casual racism and muscular nativism is the core of his appeal,” McDaniels says in the study.

For the stereotype section of the survey, respondents stated how well they felt the words “lazy” and “violent” describe Blacks, Whites, Hispanics and Muslims.

The belief that races other than White were lazy and violent increased among white Trump supporters and decreased among Rubio’s.

“People tend to follow political leaders in their opinions,”  McDaniel said, “Trump is making it okay among Republicans to talk in explicitly racist ways and to make our society about that, one group versus another. That’s not good.”

To find out about racial resentment among respondents, the survey focused on how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the following statements taken from the Systemic Racism theory, which establishes its origins “in a blend of anti-Black affect and conservative values”:

  • Irish, Italian, Jewish, and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Black people should do the same without any special favors.
  • Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for black people to work their way out of the lower class.
  • It’s really a matter of some people not trying hard enough; if black people would only try harder they could be just as well-off as whites.
  • Over the past few years, black people have gotten less than they deserve.

“When you ignore color, you ignore that other people have privileges, that people of color are looked down upon, targeted and treated unfairly,” said Timothy Walker, member of the California Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board.

After the civil rights movement, explicit racism declined in the country, even in surveys. However, it found a way to remain present.

“There are a lot of Americans who are not vocal, but they still hold the same views (as Trump),” said Serie McDougal, Africana studies department chair.

Racial resentment started to be expressed by beliefs that races other than White, especially Black people, do not deserve benefits from the government or they should work harder to achieve the American Dream, according to McDaniel.

“It’s a way to say that they are not consistent with the American values, ‘we work hard, we don’t rely on the government, we are all equal’,” said McDaniel, about race as part of the problem and the preference of people to be colorblind.

The second article is based on a “Feeling Thermometer,” where respondents placed groups and political figures on a scale that determined favorable feelings (very warm) and unfavorable feelings (very cold).

McDaniel took this information and classified the subjects into Trump supporters, other GOP candidates’ supporters and the general population to observe their biases toward Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, transgender, gay and lesbian, feminists, scientists, Whites and police.

The results showed that Trump supporters have the coldest feelings toward every group except Whites and police, to which they felt the warmest. Other GOP candidates’ supporters and the general population felt somewhat similar or close enough to each other about all the groups in that section of the study.

Racially identifying as White contributes to negative feelings toward people of color and different groups, according to the study.

“Trump supporters demonize people who are not white,” McDaniel said. “They will lose. The Republican party will reject the Trump message.”

Using the study as a reference point, McDaniel focused upon the Republican Party due to the fact that the Republican responses varied in each demographic compared to that of Democrats, whose differences were minimal. GOP constituents’ responses were unique regarding stereotypes and racial resentment.

“You can have a list of reasons leaving aside the race, but when you make it about race, they have to admit that they are doing something wrong, that they are part of the problem,” Walker said.


Published by: ritaberriosriquelme

Rita Berríos Riquelme is a journalist working on stories overlooked and dismissed by the mainstream media with an emphasis on topics that directly affect individuals and groups that are unrepresented and unheard. These topics include ethnicity, politics, social issues, and the environment. Rita is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in online and print journalism at San Francisco State University with a minor in critical social thought. She is constantly seeking opportunities to broaden her perspective and knowledge to apply critical thinking toward events and how they affect groups in society. Rita was born and raised in Chile and is currently enrolled in the Journalism, Multimedia and World Politics program at the Danish School of Media and Journalism. While in Denmark she is reporting on the European Union and events affecting it and co-hosting and producing the radio show “The Bermuda Triangle”. She is returning to San Francisco in January for her final semester at SF State.

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