Fear of Immigrants Led Blue Collar Whites to Support Trump: PRRI Report

(Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar)Supporters celebrate as they hold placards at Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary election night rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, February 9, 2016. 2016.

Opposition to cultural change in America, not economic troubles, was the dominant reason working class whites voted for Donald Trump, according to a recent study.

The left-leaning Public Religion Research Institute and the publication The Atlantic released a survey analysis Tuesday examining white working class voters' reasons for leading Trump to victory.

PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones, PRRI Research Director Daniel Cox, and Research Analyst Rachel Lienesch authored the report, which concluded that fears of "immigrants and cultural displacement" were more powerful factors in getting working class whites to vote Trump than "economic concerns."

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REUTERS/Carlo AllegriU.S. President Donald Trump appears on stage at a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on April 29, 2017.

"White working-class voters who say they often feel like a stranger in their own land and who believe the U.S. needs protecting against foreign influence were 3.5 times more likely to favor Trump than those who did not share these concerns," noted the authors.

"White working-class voters who favored deporting immigrants living in the country illegally were 3.3 times more likely to express a preference for Trump than those who did not."

By contrast, the authors found that those who were "in fair or poor financial shape actually predicted support for Hillary Clinton among white working-class Americans, rather than support for Donald Trump."

"Those who reported being in fair or poor financial shape were 1.7 times more likely to support Clinton, compared to those who were in better financial shape," the authors added. 

Although opposition to cultural change was a major factor, the authors noted that matters pertaining to race and gender were not major factors.

"It is notable that many attitudes and attributes identified as possible explanations for Trump's support among white working-class voters were not significant independent predictors," continued the authors.

"Gender, age, region, and religious affiliation were not significant demographic factors in the model. Views about gender roles and attitudes about race were also not significant."

For their methodology, PRRI and The Atlantic primarily used a large national survey taken last December of white, non-Latino adults aged 25-55 who did not hold a four-year college degree.

Last November, Trump defied numerous polls and pundits by defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.

In explaining his electoral victory, many pointed to the strong support for Trump among working class whites, especially in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Soon after the election, some analysts, like former Clinton administration figure William Galston, argued that Hillary lost for want of outreach to working class whites.

"In 2015, for the first time in decades, an angry disaffected U.S. white working class has found its voice. Xenophobia, nationalism and bigotry are the dominant tones, so it is tempting for the rest of us to turn away in dismay. We should resist that temptation," wrote Galston in a column for the Wall Street Journal last December.

"Cultural liberalism is not enough," added Galston. "Without a plan that offers the hope of a better life for Americans born to fewer advantages, populism, not progressivism, could capture the future."

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