Prior theory and research suggest that threats to the status of White Americans may increase support for Donald Trump. Consistent with this, one previous experiment conducted in early 2016 documented this effect (Major et al., 2018), finding that making salient the declining White majority in the United States increased support for Trump’s presidential candidacy among White participants with high levels of ethnic identification. We report the results of five very similar experiments (total N = 3,076) also conducted in 2016, including one conducted on a national probability sample. The first experiment (conducted in January 2016) found that racial status threat increased Whites’ support for Trump. The other four (conducted from February to October 2016), however, all found null results, and an internal meta-analysis of the five studies found no significant main effect overall. Additionally, none of the studies found an interaction of racial demographic shift and ethnic identification in which racial demographic shift increased Trump support among high-identifying Whites. We conclude by discussing a variety of potential explanations for our findings, including (a) that racial status threats did not increase Whites’ Trump support, (b) that racial status threats increased Trump support early in the 2016 election cycle, but the role of this factor in Trump support declined over time, or (c) that this pattern is an example of a broader tendency of declining experimental treatment effects on candidate support over time in campaigns (Kalla & Broockman, 2018).
From many perspectives, the election of Donald Trump was seen as a departure from long-standing political norms. An analysis of Trump’s word use in the presidential debates and speeches indicated that he was exceptionally informal but at the same time, spoke with a sense of certainty. Indeed, he is lower in analytic thinking and higher in confidence than almost any previous American president. Closer analyses of linguistic trends of presidential language indicate that Trump’s language is consistent with long-term linear trends, demonstrating that he is not as much an outlier as he initially seems. Across multiple corpora from the American presidents, non-US leaders, and legislative bodies spanning decades, there has been a general decline in analytic thinking and a rise in confidence in most political contexts, with the largest and most consistent changes found in the American presidency. The results suggest that certain aspects of the language style of Donald Trump and other recent leaders reflect long-evolving political trends. Implications of the changing nature of popular elections and the role of media are discussed.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- p. 3476-3481
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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