Understanding the Mindset of Trump Voters

Ever since I read Darryl Davis’ book Klan-Destine Relationships (about a black man that began seeking out members of the KKK to understand why they hate), I’ve been convinced that the key to eliminating hate is open conversation. People on all sides need to break out of their protective bubbles and actually engage with someone that has had a vastly different experience in life instead of being completely dismissive. I would love to speak to a Trump supporter, but living in this bubble in the Northeast I can’t say that I know of any (or at least any that are open about supporting him). Luckily, someone did the work for me.

Yesterday the Times published Conversations on Race With White Trump Voters and it’s eye-opening, to say the least. The purpose of the article was as follows:

Here at Race/Related, though, we decided to narrow the focus – to reach out to white Trump supporters around the country to ask them to respond to the worries voiced by people of color as they look toward Inauguration Day.

The big lesson that the media and others have taken away from the election’s depressingly surprising results is that we (we being democrats, liberals, city folk, etc) underestimated how much Trump’s message actually resonated in rural areas. I can’t argue with that as it’s something I’m guilty of myself. On the flip side however, I’ll say that Trump supporters (referring to those that aren’t openly racist and sexist) have severely underestimated the impact that his election will have on people of color. I want to highlight a few direct quotes from Trump supporters and compare their understanding of our problems with Trump to what’s actually happening (all emphasis in quotes mine).


Charles Walker:

I believe some of it needs to be investigated. It may be that some people are infiltrating the Black Lives Matter group. Not all of them are bad people. There are people who calmly and peacefully have their protests, people who do good for people and do good for America. As long as you’re not the kind doing the wrong thing, I think everything will be ok.

The first red flag I see there is in the last line…who determines what is the right vs. the wrong thing? You can believe you’re fully in the right, you can do everything peacefully, but if someone in power disagrees with your method or message or any other aspect, then there’s no guarantee that “everything will be ok.”

I’ve heard about stop and frisk and if it helps lower crime and stops people shooting in the streets, what’s a few hurt feelings? That’s my opinion. It’s better than seeing people die.

12 years of data from New York City suggest stop-and-frisk wasn’t that effective

A federal judge ruled on Monday that the stop-and-frisk tactics of the New York Police Department violated the constitutional rights of minorities in the city

An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 5 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics.


Michael Tepedino

I work with people of all races and all colors. I would just say that there’s no need to fear the presidency of Donald Trump.


Black people who say they’re afraid of a Trump presidency, I think their fears are unfounded. I don’t have any reason to think Donald Trump is going to treat anyone differently because they’re black.

There have been reports that Trump is considering David Clarke to lead the Department of Homeland Security. If you aren’t familiar with Clarke, here are some key notes. He is overwhelmingly opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement, to the point of absurdity:

Remember above where I talked about how “the right thing” is subjective? It starts with things like referring to a protest as a riot (while using a picture from a protest against police shootings in 2011 and trying to pass it off as election-related?)…

…and then once you’ve established that these protests are riots, handling them accordingly:

Not to mention the fact that earlier this year an inmate died of thirst in Clarke’s jail:

According to inmates at the jail, they heard Thomas begging for water in the days leading up to his death. The water in Thomas’s cell had been cut off for six days. Guards told the inmates it was because of Thomas’s “erratic behavior”—he had been flooding a previous cell that he occupied.

Regardless of how you feel about the BLM movement, the Justice Department has found that discrimination exists in police departments in Baltimore and Ferguson. So despite any arguments you may see and hear stating otherwise, there is evidence that people of color are disproportionately targeted by the police. And i’m not even going to get into Trump’s own history of discrimination. But back to Michael.

It’s the campaign people, the fearmongers who are trying to instill fear in those people, saying if you vote for the Republicans, he’s going to give tax breaks to the white rich man.

But I think Trump is smarter than that. If he’s alienating half of the country, that is going to make life hard for him. He doesn’t want that. It will be advantageous to him to have a United States of America, not a divided states of America.

How Trump’s tax plan may impact your returns

If Trump were to get everything he has proposed from a Republican-controlled Congress, a taxpayer who makes between $48,000 to $83,000 a year would save about $1,000 under his plan, said Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

People in the top 0.01%, making $3.7 million or more in a year, would receive $1 million in annual tax savings.

“He is proposing tax cuts for the very people he ran against in his campaign,” Gleckman said.


Julia McGath:

I’m concerned about all the entitlements. That’s the big deal for me. I’ve worked all my life, and with God’s help I’ve not taken any handouts. But there are so many people who live off that their whole life.

I would say (people of color are fearful now) because they’re not going to get their entitlements. They’re probably afraid they’re going to lose their green card, or whatever they have going to get a free load with.


(source for all charts)

If people are living right and not breaking the law and doing what they should be doing, there shouldn’t be any reason to worry. Honestly, if they just prayed more, they wouldn’t have to be worried.

I never heard about stop and frisk. I can’t imagine them stopping and frisking people for no reason at all. The cops have plenty to do without doing that. That sounds like harassment to me.

There’s that vague reference to living right and doing what you should be doing. Also, Julia should have a chat with Charles about stop and frisk.

Andrew Jones

He wants to be the president for everybody. We’re all Americans. We need to stop isolating ourselves and voting in blocks based on ethnicity. We need to become Americans and live the American dream. We all have the opportunity; we just need to take it.

But if they’re Muslim and they’re coming from Syria, we don’t want them here. If they’re Muslim and coming from Paris and they don’t have a clean record, we don’t want them here.

That speaks for itself.

I think it’s completely appropriate to have a registry for people who are here on visas. I don’t think he was talking about a registry for Muslim citizens. That would be against the Constitution.

From 2015:

NEWTON, Iowa — Donald Trump “would certainly implement” a database system tracking Muslims in the United States, the Republican front-runner told NBC News on Thursday night.

“I would certainly implement that. Absolutely,” Trump said in Newton, Iowa, in between campaign town halls.

“There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases,” he added. “We should have a lot of systems.”

When asked whether Muslims would be legally obligated to sign into the database, Trump responded, “They have to be — they have to be.”

I mean…

He says outrageous things sometimes. But if you take out the bombast and look at the substance of what he’s saying, he’s never wrong. He’s always right.

(A fact checker looked into 158 things Donald Trump said. 78 percent were false.)

It would be totally appropriate for the attorney general to look into Black Lives Matter. It’s against the law to incite riot and if you listen to their rhetoric, that’s what they’re doing. And if it is deemed constitutional, I would support stop and frisk. The police need that tool.

Lastly, I wanna end this with Charles’ closing.

I personally think they’re overthinking the things he was saying. I think, you know, things will work out for the best. Everybody will eventually come together and make things work.

It’s America. We’re all here for each other.

At least we’re supposed to be, right?

I admire the tepid optimism. Like I mentioned in my last post, here’s where the disconnect happen. The worst-case scenario is far worse for a person of color (among others obviously) than for a white Trump supporter. And while I sympathize with the genuine concerns of Trump supporters (jobs, poverty, etc), stating that the government underestimated the things you go through doesn’t hold as much weight when your reasons for electing this man underestimate and/or disregard the things that others go through. At best it’s hypocritical and lacking in empathy. At worst?

What accounts for the widespread support for Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential race? This experiment demonstrates that the changing racial demographics of America contribute to Trump’s success as a presidential candidate among White Americans whose race/ethnicity is central to their identity. Reminding White Americans high in ethnic identification that non-White racial groups will outnumber Whites in the United States by 2042 caused them to become more concerned about the declining status and influence of White Americans as a group (i.e., experience group status threat), and caused them to report increased support for Trump and anti-immigrant policies, as well as greater opposition to political correctness. Increased group status threat mediated the effects of the racial shift condition on candidate support, anti-immigrant policy support, and opposition to political correctness. Among Whites low in ethnic identification, in contrast, the racial shift condition had no effect on group status threat or support for anti-immigrant policies, but did cause decreased positivity toward Trump and decreased opposition to political correctness. Group status threat did not mediate these effects. Reminders of the changing racial demographics had comparable effects for Democrats and Republicans. Results illustrate the importance of changing racial demographics and White ethnic identification in voter preferences and how social psychological theory can illuminate voter preferences.


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One Response to Understanding the Mindset of Trump Voters

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