Philip Klinkner, the James S. Sherman Professor of Government, was asked by the Los Angeles Times to write an essay that expanded upon his previous research on voter attitudes and their effect on the election and President Trump’s popularity. “Yes, Trump's hard-line immigration stance helped him win the election — but it could be his undoing” appeared on the publication’s site on April 17.
In this latest essay, Klinkner examined Trump’s opposition to immigration which was central to his political strategy and the role it played in the election’s outcome. “Data from the recently released American National Election Study has finally provided an answer: Immigration was central to the election, and hostility toward immigrants animated Trump voters,” he wrote.
Reviewing the data, Klinkner showed that, “Overall, immigration represented one of the biggest divides between Trump and Clinton voters.” They were divided on building a wall, Syrian refugees and the importance of speaking English.
Klinkner noted an important difference however between Trump voters to the population at large. He wrote, “public opinion is even more dovish. Only 32% said they want to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Most (56%) oppose decreasing immigration levels. Only 21% said they think that immigration is bad for the economy.”
In conclusion, he wrote, “Widespread protests against Trump’s executive order barring individuals from several Muslim countries, congressional skepticism about the effectiveness and cost of Trump’s proposed wall, and increased awareness of the negative effect that his policies are having on U.S. businesses, schools and families suggest a growing backlash. Should that backlash develop and sustain itself, the immigration views that helped Trump in 2016 might prove to be his undoing.”