Trump’s Race-Baiting Is Hurting Him More Than Helping Him

I’ve been arguing for a while that Donald Trump’s strategy of appealing to the racism of his base isn’t likely to work. It only barely worked in 2016, and things are different now that he’s been spewing his filth into our homes for more than two years. Basically, his race baiting might attract a few more votes from his white working-class base, but it’s going to lose him more votes among whites and others who are disgusted by his demagoguery.

Like all of us, I love it when some research comes along to confirm my point of view, and yesterday a couple of Cornell professors who work at the Roper Center did just that. Peter Enns and Jonathon Schuldt present a couple of charts that I’ve combined into one. They polled about 1,400 people in battleground states last July and asked a series of questions about racial resentment along with some questions about support for Trump. Here are the results:

Their basic point is simple:

Those who strongly approve of Trump — represented by the red bars in the graph below — mostly indicate higher levels of racial resentment. This can be seen in the height of the bars clustered toward the right side of the scale.

Hoever, among those who strongly disapprove of Trump in these [swing] states — the blue bars — even more likely voters indicate strongly benevolent attitudes on race and immigration, as indicated by the height of the bars clustered near zero. These are the voters who are likely to be offended by Trump’s racist remarks, perhaps becoming more motivated to turn out on the Democratic side as a result.

Among independents, they say that about 60 percent have racial views on the “benevolent” side of the scale. These people are also likely to be turned off by Trump’s racial rhetoric, while only 40 percent are likely to appreciate it.

Now, this is fairly thin stuff, and I’d take it as suggestive only. That said, it is suggestive that Trump has worn out his race-baiting schtick with a good 50-60 percent of the population. If that’s really the case, then every time he unleashes a tirade about rats and shitholes and sending them back, all he’s doing is costing himself votes. As long as Democrats don’t take the bait and go crazy, Trump is digging himself a hole he can’t get out of.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate