It’s the status, peasant

A basic trope about the reasons for Trump’s appeal to voters is the economic anxiety factor. Niraj Chokshi at the Times points to a study that cites status anxiety.

White, Christian and male voters, the study suggests, turned to Mr. Trump because they felt their status was at risk.

“It’s much more of a symbolic threat that people feel,’’ said Diana C. Mutz, the author of the study and a political science and communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where she directs the Institute for the Study of Citizens and Politics. “It’s not a threat to their own economic well-being; it’s a threat to their group’s dominance in our country over all.”

The study is not the first to cast doubt on the prevailing economic anxiety theory. Last year, a Public Religion Research Institute survey of more than 3,000 people also found that Mr. Trump’s appeal could better be explained by a fear of cultural displacement.

If that’s true it at least helps explain how people at the bottom of the ladder manage to see Trump as their dude. Economically that makes zero sense, but culturally it does make some. Trump is neither poor nor working class but by god he is racist.

Her survey also assessed “social dominance orientation,” a common psychological measure of a person’s belief in hierarchy as necessary and inherent to a society. People who exhibited a growing belief in such group dominance were also more likely to move toward Mr. Trump, Dr. Mutz found, reflecting their hope that the status quo be protected.

“It used to be a pretty good deal to be a white, Christian male in America, but things have changed and I think they do feel threatened,” Dr. Mutz said.

What does it matter which kind of anxiety — cultural or economic — explains Mr. Trump’s appeal?

If wrong, the prevailing economic theory lends unfounded virtue to his victory, crediting it to the disaffected masses, Dr. Mutz argues. More important, she said, it would teach the wrong lesson to elected officials, who often look to voting patterns in enacting new policy.

Like deporting people and defunding Planned Parenthood.

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