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What unites Trump voters?
The best predictor of Trump support isn't income, education, or age. It's authoritarianism

Updated by Matthew MacWilliams on February 23, 2016, 2:20 p.m. ET

In the five days leading up to the South Carolina Republican primary I fielded a survey of 358 likely voters, hoping to better understand who supports Donald Trump, why, and what it may mean for the Republican presidential nominating contest.

What I found is a trend that has been widely overlooked. A voter’s gender, education, age, ideology, party identification, income, and race simply had no statistical bearing on whether someone supported Trump. Neither, despite predictions to the contrary, did evangelicalism.

Here is what did: authoritarianism, by which I mean Americans’ inclination to authoritarian behavior. When political scientists use the term authoritarianism, we are not talking about dictatorships but about a worldview. People who score high on the authoritarian scale value conformity and order, protect social norms, and are wary of outsiders. And when authoritarians feel threatened, they support aggressive leaders and policies.

Authoritarianism and a hybrid variable that links authoritarianism with a personal fear of terrorism were the only two variables that predicted, with statistical significance, support for Trump.

Put simply, Trump won South Carolina because of the overwhelming, unyielding support of authoritarian voters. This chart shows the predicted relationship between authoritarianism and support for Trump. It is statistically and substantively significant — and, as you can see from the upward plot of the line, stunning.

[Image: Trump_poll2.0.jpg]

For some time, I have studied authoritarian attitudes among Americans. This December, under the auspices of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I conducted a national poll measuring authoritarianism, along with more typical demographic and political factors. It found that, nationally, only authoritarian attitudes and fear of terrorism — not income, age, education, or even race — predict with statistical significance whether someone will support Trump.

Both surveys measured authoritarianism with a simple battery of four questions related to parenting. Political scientists, including Marc Hetherington, Jonathan Weiler, and Karen Stenner, have used these questions since the early 1990s to estimate authoritarianism because of their accuracy in predicting authoritarian behavior.

Individuals with a disposition to authoritarianism demonstrate a fear of "the other" as well as a readiness to follow and obey strong leaders. They tend to see the world in black-and-white terms. They are by definition attitudinally inflexible and rigid. And once they have identified friend from foe, they hold tight to their conclusions. This intransigent behavioral tendency of authoritarians may help explain why Trump’s support can seem, as a strategist for Marco Rubio complained in the New York Times, like "granite."

The South Carolina poll confirmed what I found in my national poll this December: Authoritarian Americans are the key to Trump’s success.
Authoritarian voters carried Trump to victory in South Carolina. And if he does as well among authoritarians on Super Tuesday as he did in South Carolina, he will be well on his way to winning the Republican nomination for president.

This has been months in the making. Trump’s strongman rhetoric may have activated authoritarians. He called for a wall to keep out "the other," for deporting 12 million illegal immigrants, prohibiting Muslims from entering the US, shuttering mosques, establishing a nationwide database to track Muslim Americans, and so on.

In South Carolina, 57 percent of Trump voters made up their mind to support him more than a month before the primary. More than half of these voters scored at least .75 on the authoritarian scale. And they never wavered. By comparison, only 20 percent of Rubio and 35 percent of Cruz supporters decided that far out. This is Trump’s support base, and it is rock solid.

The other measure that predicted Trump support in South Carolina was a variable that links authoritarianism with the fear that poll respondent or someone in their family will become a victim of terrorism in the next year. While the connection between authoritarianism and threat is not new, there can be a propensity of people who are lower on the authoritarian scale to behave more like authoritarians when threatened — as the political scientists Hetherington and Suhay demonstrated in a 2011 study in theAmerican Journal of Political Science.

The practical implication of this connection is that Americans who are not strong authoritarians behave more like them when they feel threatened. This is exactly the behavior found among South Carolinian supporters of Trump: Voters who had lower scores on the authoritarianism scale were more likely to support Trump if they were more concerned about terrorism.

[Image: Trump_poll1.0.jpg]

These results should be a big red flag to those who argue Trump’s support is capped. It is not.

If fear drives more voters to support Trump, as the data suggests happened in South Carolina, then Trump’s support is only limited by the extent of that fear. That means his popularity could potentially receive a boost if, for example, there is another terrorist attack on the West like those in San Bernardino and Paris. Or, perhaps, if there is heightened media attention on terrorism.

I did find one soft spot in Trump’s support. Regular, weekly church attendance — as measured by a standard Pew Research question included in my survey — predicted a statistically significant and substantive opposition to Trump.

America’s Authoritarian Spring, rising authoritarian attitudes playing a newly significant role in American politics, is now upon us. As a result, the Republican Party establishment that so opposes Trump is no longer in control of the GOP presidential primary. American authoritarians are playing a major role in this contest, and my national and South Carolina surveys show that Donald Trump is the leader they are ready to follow.
Matthew MacWilliams is a founder of MacWilliams Sanders, a political communications firm, and a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is writing his dissertation about authoritarianism.
Apart from the earlier documented authoritarianism, it's anger. 

Trump's victories aren't mysterious if you understand why people are angry

Jeb Lund
The Republican frontrunner often complains that he’s been dismissed by the media. But it’s not him that the pundits are contemptuous of; it’s his supporters

Wednesday 24 February 2016 07.32 GMTLast modified on Wednesday 24 February 201613.37 GMT

Donald Trump’s victory in the Nevada Republican caucus wasn’t even a close one; he reportedly led in practically every demographic (and listed them in his victory speech). Evangelicals, young, old, Hispanics, the highly educated and “the poorly educated” they all loved him on Tuesday night.
Hispanics? Yes, even Hispanics, even after that line about “drugs and rapists”.

And though establishment toffs like to issue signifying snorts about Trump voters being predominantly “poorly educated”, in the minutes after the caucus even CNN started to come around to the most elusive explanation: Trump’s popularity isn’t about his supporters’ education, their religion or the policies they’d like to see enacted. Trump is popular because of his supporters’ anger.

Anger isn’t something that Beltway pundits recognize, let alone understand because everyone employed in media or in politics in and around Washington DC is pretty well off. Even ink-stained wretches pull down five-figures – and, unlike everywhere else in America, since journalism is built on documenting nonsense, there’s some real job security in documenting Washington. Television people fare even better, because TV money is stupid money. Think-tank malefactors reap great sums from the aggrieved heartland or from industries looking to build a canon of falsified data, and Congress and the attendant lobbying is a helluva racket.

Anger is pretty easy to miss when it’s something pretty difficult to feel. When you sit at the center of the world and are unlikely to ever lack for the basic materials of self-sufficiency, the idea of blind, gnawing resentment – let alone of feeding that resentment even with irrational aims – is ineluctably beyond your ken.

It’s harder still to understand that there are millions of people in America whose ambitions for a life of steadily improving conditions cratered sometime around nine years ago and have never recovered. If you can hardly imagine that you could follow the Horatio Alger script to the letter and still find yourself sinking in quicksand, you’re never going to understand why someone would be so contemptuous of the pieties of a system that only pays attention to you when doing soft-focus interviews in search of a journalism award or a campaign ad.

And anger isn’t something so easily ratiocinated. When your job is explaining world events, irrational phenomena lie fundamentally outside your brief. Explaining things with, “Well, people are angry!” is like surrender; it’s explaining badly-resolved story lines in a TV show with, “A wizard did it.” Journalists learn to see the world in terms of the push/pull of conflicting ideologies and the necessary stratagems within a needlessly complicated governmental system; they’re necessarily going seek their explanations for seeming irrationality in the more elegant realms of philosophy and economics and political science.

Doing so fails them all the time. Look at the Tea Party, which the Beltway (at various points) tried desperately to explain as populist resentment of Business As Usual, or a new libertarian moment. Only recently has the media madding crowd come around to some kind of consensus about it just being racist as hell.

That wasn’t a difficult conclusion to reach, and it didn’t need to take seven years; all they had to do was look at their damn signage – all those placards of Obama as “Curious George” the monkey and signs like “OBAMA’S PLAN = WHITE SLAVERY” were kind of unambiguous.

Which brings us back to Trump’s victory speech in Nevada, which was his usual gallimaufry of disconnected thoughts. They aren’t traditional political speeches as much as they are The Donald emceeing his own Dean Martin roast for everyone and everything he hates, with interruptions for what he loves. He burns his enemies to a crisp, tells America it’s wonderful and drops in random praise. “Florida, we love Florida.”
Hey, Florida, baby, you’re beautiful. You’re wonderful. I tell ya, I love ya. You’re aces. Here’s $100 for the tables. I know you’re going to be lucky tonight because I can feel it.

There’s a great temptation to fume at the emptiness and banality of Trump’s statements and at the absence of traditional policy plans; it’s almost irresistible to seek some grander explanation for his success than that people like him.

But you don’t need some grand overarching political science theory. There are millions of miserable people in America who know exactly who engineered the shattering of their worlds, and Trump isn’t one of those people – and, with the exception of Bernie Sanders, everyone else in the field is running on the basis of their experience being one of those people.

When you are abused and bullied enough, anyone willing to beat up or burn down whomever put you in that position is your friend. Even a bully can be a hero if he targets others bullies – and that is, more or less, what Trump has done since day one.

Trump’s nativism is horrifying and nauseating, as is his delight in talking about beating up protesters and intimidating anyone who hassles him. People are right to fear the way he has turned movement conservatism’s loathing of protest, the media and non-white foreigners up to 11 and ripped the knob off.

But that disgusting behavior gets paired with the sight of Trump humiliating establishment empty suits like Scott Walker, stuffed shirts like Jeb Bush, party pets like Marco Rubio and habitual liars like Ted Cruz. The fact that Trump himself is frequently lying doesn’t matter to those that see themselves as the establishment’s victims if he’s lying in service of exposing another government predator.

As tacky and thuggish as it might be, Trump plays the hero to people that the wise warriors of the system have abandoned. He’s the ultimate Gary Stu character: a billionaire beholden to no one and able to abuse every disingenuous and pettifogging remora latched headfirst on the nation and sucking upward.

And as long as people can enjoy the elbow-throwing wish-fulfillment of watching him in action, most of the rest doesn’t matter to them – not the bombast, not the war-mongering, not the unfeasibility of even his signature promises and certainly not the consequences if he keeps them. If the system is already so broken that it abandoned you, its preservation is not your concern. Hell, burning it down might be what you want most.
Anger has a clarity all its own. It renders most detail extraneous, and it animates like nothing else. It is not to be underestimated, and, at this point, we will probably have to wait until November to find out if it truly has been.
This sums it up neatly:

Quote:Entrance polls by CBS News showed 61 percent of Nevada Republicans want the next president to be outside politics, while 58 percent described their view of the federal government as "angry." "Donald is the guy. He's a man of action. He's got a lot of money. He doesn't need anyone's money," says Elaine Carneiro, another Trump supporter.
Trump Hits Jackpot In Nevada Caucuses - US News

Action from an outsider, as people feel the political system is rigged against them and are angry about it.
And the mainstream media is of course seen as part of that political system:

Quote:"I still support Trump, I think that he's just going to win. I feel like if Cruz can get second place, Cruz would end up being his running mate. That'd be a great ticket, Trump and Cruz," Lowe says. "I don't dislike Rubio, but I just feel like the mainstream media is pushing him so much. Last night, I was just watching all the news and they're just bashing Trump and Cruz and pushing Rubio and I feel like, 'No thank you man,' because I don't trust the mainstream media. Nothing personal man. My least favorite candidate is the establishment guy, which is Rubio."
Trump Hits Jackpot In Nevada Caucuses - US News
Perhaps we shouldn't get carried away too much..

Quote:But how many people in Nevada actually voted for him? 34,531 votes cast for Donald Trump. That's less than: 1% of Nevada's total population of 2.9 million
US election 2016: The untold story of Donald Trump's win - BBC News
A cracker of a column already posted elsewhere, but worth repeating here..

The Governing Cancer of Our Time
[Image: brooks-circular-thumbLarge-v4.png]
David Brooks FEB. 26, 2016

We live in a big, diverse society. There are essentially two ways to maintain order and get things done in such a society — politics or some form of dictatorship. Either through compromise or brute force. Our founding fathers chose politics.

Politics is an activity in which you recognize the simultaneous existence of different groups, interests and opinions. You try to find some way to balance or reconcile or compromise those interests, or at least a majority of them. You follow a set of rules, enshrined in a constitution or in custom, to help you reach these compromises in a way everybody considers legitimate.

The downside of politics is that people never really get everything they want. It’s messy, limited and no issue is ever really settled. Politics is a muddled activity in which people have to recognize restraints and settle for less than they want. Disappointment is normal.

But that’s sort of the beauty of politics, too. It involves an endless conversation in which we learn about other people and see things from their vantage point and try to balance their needs against our own. Plus, it’s better than the alternative: rule by some authoritarian tyrant who tries to govern by clobbering everyone in his way.

As Bernard Crick wrote in his book, “In Defence of Politics,” “Politics is a way of ruling divided societies without undue violence.”
Over the past generation we have seen the rise of a group of people who are against politics. These groups — best exemplified by the Tea Party but not exclusive to the right — want to elect people who have no political experience. They want “outsiders.” They delegitimize compromise and deal-making. They’re willing to trample the customs and rules that give legitimacy to legislative decision-making if it helps them gain power.

Ultimately, they don’t recognize other people. They suffer from a form of political narcissism, in which they don’t accept the legitimacy of other interests and opinions. They don’t recognize restraints. They want total victories for themselves and their doctrine.

This antipolitics tendency has had a wretched effect on our democracy. It has led to a series of overlapping downward spirals:
The antipolitics people elect legislators who have no political skills or experience. That incompetence leads to dysfunctional government, which leads to more disgust with government, which leads to a demand for even more outsiders

The antipolitics people don’t accept that politics is a limited activity. They make soaring promises and raise ridiculous expectations. When those expectations are not met, voters grow cynical and, disgusted, turn even further in the direction of antipolitics.
The antipolitics people refuse compromise and so block the legislative process. The absence of accomplishment destroys public trust. The decline in trust makes deal-making harder.

We’re now at a point where the Senate says it won’t even hold hearings on a presidential Supreme Court nominee, in clear defiance of custom and the Constitution. We’re now at a point in which politicians live in fear if they try to compromise and legislate. We’re now at a point in which normal political conversation has broken down. People feel unheard, which makes them shout even louder, which further destroys conversation.

And in walks Donald Trump. People say that Trump is an unconventional candidate and that he represents a break from politics as usual. That’s not true. Trump is the culmination of the trends we have been seeing for the last 30 years: the desire for outsiders; the bashing style of rhetoric that makes conversation impossible; the decline of coherent political parties; the declining importance of policy; the tendency to fight cultural battles and identity wars through political means.

Trump represents the path the founders rejected. There is a hint of violence undergirding his campaign. There is always a whiff, and sometimes more than a whiff, of “I’d like to punch him in the face.”

I printed out a Times list of the insults Trump has hurled on Twitter. The list took up 33 pages. Trump’s style is bashing and pummeling. Everyone who opposes or disagrees with him is an idiot, a moron or a loser. The implied promise of his campaign is that he will come to Washington and bully his way through.

Trump’s supporters aren’t looking for a political process to address their needs. They are looking for a superhero. As the political scientist Matthew MacWilliams found, the one trait that best predicts whether you’re a Trump supporter is how high you score on tests that measure authoritarianism.

This isn’t just an American phenomenon. Politics is in retreat and authoritarianism is on the rise worldwide. The answer to Trump is politics. It’s acknowledging other people exist. It’s taking pleasure in that difference and hammering out workable arrangements. As Harold Laski put it, “We shall make the basis of our state consent to disagreement. Therein shall we ensure its deepest harmony.”
Is this the same as a tendency towards authoritarianism (see previous entry)?

Quote:One of the interesting questions about the 2016 Republican presidential primaries is why evangelical Christians are voting for Donald Trump. His language is salty (he had to give up swearing going into the South Carolina primary) and often impudent, he’s twice divorced – in other words, he certainly doesn’t seem to be the type of candidate evangelicals would support. However, political polling we did 30 years ago just after I started my company provides an explanation of why he is getting so many of their votes. We found that evangelicals are drawn toward politics by messianic figures. Although Trump may not be Christ-like, the term messianic does have other synonyms such as “liberator” or “defender,” words that Trump supporters might easily use to describe him.
Why Evangelicals Support Trump | RealClearPolitics

Quote:Third, we found out what did draw this group toward politics: strong, decisive leaders, not issues. They got involved in politics for the same reason they got involved with their church -- because they were looking for someone to help “show them the way.” Evangelicals were drawn into politics by messianic leaders.
Why Evangelicals Support Trump | RealClearPolitics

By the way, there was another interesting nugget in that article:

Quote:Second, we found out that abortion was not the prime motivator for evangelical Christians. In fact, of the 400 people we interviewed, about one-third were pro-choice, something we all found surprising -- and probably the reason the results of this study were never released to the public.
Why Evangelicals Support Trump | RealClearPolitics
So, to sum it up..

(Fairly) big Government + Macho Authoritarianism + Fear of foreigners = Trump?

Quote:In particular, Ellis and Stimson show that it is self-identified conservatives who are particularly prone to this because so many of them take liberal positions on key questions like the size of government. They find that this group — “symbolically conservative” but “operationally” liberal — actually comprises a larger share of the electorate (nearly 25 percent) as of 2008 than it did in 1974. One of us (Sides) demonstrated this in 2012, showing that even likely Republican primary voters tended to favor maintaining or increasing spending on a range of government programs.
Political science and the rise of Trump
Trump aka.. Ross Perrot? The revival of that great sucking sound..

Quote:But I also noticed something surprising. In each of the speeches I watched, Trump spent a good part of his time talking about an entirely legitimate issue, one that could even be called left-wing. Yes, Donald Trump talked about trade. In fact, to judge by how much time he spent talking about it, trade may be his single biggest concern – not white supremacy. Not even his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border, the issue that first won him political fame. He did it again during the debate on 3 March: asked about his political excommunication by Mitt Romney, he chose to pivot and talk about ... trade. It seems to obsess him: the destructive free-trade deals our leaders have made, the many companies that have moved their production facilities to other lands, the phone calls he will make to those companies’ CEOs in order to threaten them with steep tariffs unless they move back to the US.
Millions of ordinary Americans support Donald Trump. Here's why | Thomas Frank | Opinion | The Guardian
And insofar the decline of the white working class has been speeded up by free trade, he might even be on to something, at least in political terms.

Quote:All of them agree on three points: First, that Trump's campaign is a populist reaction to the economic decline of the white working class. Second, that Trump is exploiting the anger sparked by this decline for his own purposes. Third, that a more conscientious response would involve the Republican Party proposing a series of policies to address the interests and anxieties of these angry white working-class voters.
Can right-wing populism be stopped?

On the third point, good luck with that..

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