Politics

The Reason White People Who Never Left Their Hometown Support Donald Trump

October 9th 2016

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

It's well-known at this point that Republican nominee Donald Trump appeals to working class white voters. He's consistently polled higher than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with white voters without a college degree.

However a new poll may further explain why, and also offer new insights into Trump's white Christian supporters.

A poll by the Atlantic and the Public Religion Research Institute found that a significant number of Trump supporters, as adults live in the same community that they grew up in as children.

"Trump’s strengths with geographically rooted white voters adds a new piece to the puzzle about Trump’s appeal," Robert P. Jones, the CEO of PRRI, told ATTN:.

About 40 percent of people who said they would vote for Trump live in their hometown compared to just 29 percent of Clinton supporters. About 71 percent of Clinton supporters said that they live outside of their hometown and nearly 60 percent of those people live at least two hours away, according to the Atlantic.

Why do so many Trump supporters live in the same place they grew up?

Jones, who is the author of "The End of White Christian America," said that the key to answering this question are the changes in American society, particularly since President Barack Obama, the first black president was elected in 2008.

"Just a couple of numbers will put this into perspective: In 2008, a majority of Americans, 56 percent, identified as white and Christian, but that number today is only 43 percent," Jones said. "So just since 2008, we’ve moved from being a majority white Christian nation to a minority white Christian nation."

Jones said that white voters who live in their childhood neighborhood can see these changes more clearly, because they've seen the same location change over a period of many years.

"Because they can remember neighborhoods, churches, schools, and other institutions from their childhoods, they have more fixed markers from which to measure change, and they are more likely to have experienced a decline in their own cultural centrality and influence in the community as it has changed," he said. "So, for example, if they see the Baptist church from their childhood being converted to a Catholic church that holds mass in Spanish, that’s a pretty visible change."

White voters in their childhood communities see the changes in the increasingly diverse society, and they may not like it. Jones said that Christians and white working class people who are losing their status in American society are more averse to minorities and immigrants.

"For example, two core groups of Trump supporters—white working class Americans and white evangelical Protestants—are more likely than other Americans to express concerns about encountering immigrants who speak little or no English," Jones explained. "Strong majorities of these groups believe that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minority groups."

Jones also pointed out that Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again" is perfectly suited to capture this group of voters. Some Americans who miss the 1950s could also miss the dominance of white Christians in that time period.

"Most notably, these groups exhibit a strong sense of nostalgia for the 1950s, and agree that American culture and way of live has changed for the worse since the 1950s, " Jones told ATTN:.

This contrasts sharply with the minorities' optimistic view about the future of the country. Both Latinos and black Americans have polled higher for optimism and life satisfaction than white Americans, even when minorities are making less money.

ATTN: previously reported on Trump's "Make America Great Again" rhetoric targeting white people who feel that they are losing their place in society.

University of California, Los Angeles political science professor Joshua Foa Dienstag told ATTN: back in August that Trump uses language that signals his allegiance to working class white voters.

"'Build a wall' is shorthand for 'no more immigrants,' and 'renegotiate NAFTA' is shorthand for 'I'll protect your jobs,'" said Dienstag. "Then all the various racist noises are ways to signal 'I'm on your side.'"

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