Fear and deprivation in Trump's America: A regional analysis of voting behavior in the 2016 and 2020 U.S. Presidential Elections
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Description: Since Trump was elected U.S. President in 2016, researchers have sought to explain his support, with some focusing on structural factors (e.g., economics) and others focusing on psychological factors (e.g., fear). We integrate these perspectives by investigating whether Trump votes were concentrated in regions experiencing threatening economic, demographic, and health conditions (captured by 18 factor-analyzed variables) as well as a tendency towards negative emotionality (captured by the neuroticism of 3+ million individuals aggregated to 2,083 counties). Results revealed that regions that voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020 had high levels of neuroticism, economic deprivation, and anti-black implicit bias along with low levels of ethnic diversity. Trump’s voter base differed from the voter base of more traditional Republican candidates and Democrat Bernie Sanders. In sum, psychological and structural factors both explain Trump’s unique appeal.