Friday, October 28, 2016

Same As It Ever Was

Via The Daily Parker, I read an article in which Richard Florida offers analysis of demographic characteristics associated with support for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump:
There can be little doubt of the fact that reality television star Donald Trump has made the 2016 presidential campaign season one of the strangest in American history. Yet in many ways, this election conforms to America’s underlying basic economic, demographic, and political divides. In fact, the 2016 election reinforces the nation’s divides between richer, more highly educated, more diverse, and more urban Blue States and less advantaged, working class, less diverse, and whiter Red States.
The analysis involves basic correlations, using poll data from three sources (Pollster, Real Clear Politics, and YouGov). What they found mirrors relationships seen in previous elections, including the 2012 Presidential election between President Obama and Mitt Romney. States that have higher support for Clinton tend to be richer and more educated, and have a larger share of creative class workers, as well as unionized employees. Unsurprisingly, these states also tend to have higher property values and income tax. Trump, on the other hand, has higher support among states with higher rates of poverty, fewer college graduates, more working class employees, and lower rates of unionization.

One interesting finding - which makes sense now that I think about it in concert with these other variables - is life expectancy: "Clinton support is higher in states where life expectancy is longer (.35), while life expectancy is negatively correlated with Trump support (-.56)." This makes sense when you think about differences in health and access to health care between richer and poorer citizens, as well as differences in diet and access to healthy food choices. Higher rates of infant mortality might also explain these differences. These differences would be more pronounced in rural (where access to a variety of services is an issue) versus urban settings, so the fact that more urbanized states show higher support for Clinton isn't too surprising. Trump also shows higher support in states with more gun deaths, so that could also explain the life expectancy finding.

They also dug into the data on racial divides. Trump supporters are more likely to be white, but that isn't the whole story. They tend to be white and racially isolated. In states with higher proportions of foreign-born citizens, Clinton support is higher.

The conclusion of this analysis, though, is that even though Trump seems to be one of the most divisive presidential candidates ever, the characteristics predicting support for one candidate over another in this election cycle are very similar to the characteristics predicting support in previous cycles. So these characteristics really don't explain support for a candidate so much as support for a particular party:
Despite Trump’s bizarreness as a candidate, the election is not a break with a past. According to our analysis, Clinton and Trump support this election cycle basically lines up with Obama and Romney support in 2012. Clinton states are correlated at a whopping .95 with Obama’s vote shares by states in 2012; and Trump states are correlated at .87 with the shares of the vote won by Romney.
In spite of the group of high-profile conservatives who have joined the "Never Trump" camp, it appears that many citizens are going to vote along party lines, even if it means holding their noses while they do it.

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