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.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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