Trump’s Right-Wing Rainbow Coalition
Though mainstream observers were shocked that Donald Trump increased his support among many ethnic minority groups in the 2020 election, this should not have come as a surprise. The common thread linking the Trump base has little to do with demographics, and much more to do with a personality type.
BOSTON – Although Donald Trump will pack his bags and leave the White House on January 20, he has presided over an authoritarian awakening among a large swath of the American population – one that will persist long after he is gone. As president, Trump not only deployed racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and Islamophobic rhetoric, but actually baked it into his policies. Nonetheless, more than 74 million Americans voted for him in 2020.
Even more strikingly, exit polls suggest that Trump actually gained support from all of the demographic groups that he had maligned, insulted, and harmed, garnering more black, Hispanic, and Muslim votes than he did in 2016. Asian-Americans also pivoted to Trump, voting for him by a larger margin than they did for him in 2016. And Trump won around 55% of white women in 2020. In two consecutive elections, the majority of white women chose a blatant misogynist over a female presidential or vice-presidential candidate.
Writing in the Washington Post just after this year’s election, Fareed Zakaria argued that there is no common ground among ethnic and religious minority groups, the implication being that their members found Trump appealing for different reasons. But this is the wrong way to frame the issue. Trump created his rainbow coalition, and his supporters are more blindly loyal than President-elect Joe Biden’s. The right question, then, is what united minority Trump supporters, both among themselves and with his white supporters.