Why did Donald Trump really get elected?
Objectives: Many explanations have been offered of Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency of the United States. Most focus on the candidates and events in or around their campaigns. This paper argues that a much-neglected part of the story lies in long-developing structural and historical trends in the U.S. political economy upon which the Trump campaign capitalized.
Research Design & Methods: The paper provides an historical analysis of the structural changes in American political conomy that contributed to Trump’s rise to power.
Findings: Trump’s rise to power was premised on decades-long changes in the U.S. economy, race relations, ideology, party politics and Obama’s presidency.
Implications/Recommendations: To understand Trump’s rise to power we need to understand the changes in American political and economic life that sowed the seeds for his election.
Contribution/Value Added: Othe r accounts of Trump’s victory focus on short- or medium-term factors. This paper puts them all into longer historical perspective.
Donald Trump; American politics; public governance; presidential election; political economy
Abramowitz, A. (2013). The Polarized Public? New York: Pearson.
Agiesta, J. & Ross, S. (2012). AP poll: Majority harbor prejudice against blacks. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ap-poll-majority-harbor-prejudice-againstblacks (accessed December 2016).
Aistrup, J. (1996). The Southern Strategy Revisited.Lexington: University of Kentucky Press.
Alba, R. (2015). The myth of a white minority. The New York Times, June 11. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/11/opinion/the-myth-of-a-whiteminority.html (accessed June 2017).
Allen, J. & Parnes, A. (2017). Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign. New York: Crown.
Bartels, L. (2016). Unequal Democracy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Binder, S. (2014). Polarized We Govern? Washington DC: Center for Effective Public Management, The Brookings Institution.
Bluestone, B. & Harrison, B. (1988). The Great U-turn: Corporate Restructuring and the Polarizing of America. New York: Basic Books.
Blyth, M. (2013). Austerity. New York: Oxford University Press.
Brock, D., Rabin-Havt, A. & Media Matters (2012). The Fox Effect. New York: Anchor.
Campbell, J. E. (2016). Polarized. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Campbell, J. L. (2018). American Discontent: The Rise of Donald Trump and Decline of the Golden Age. New York: Oxford University Press.
Campbell, J. L. & Pedersen. O. K. (2014). The National Origins of Policy Ideas: Knowledge Regimes in the United States, France, Germany and Denmark. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Campbell, J. L. & Pedersen. O. K. (2001). Conclusion: The second movement in institutional analysis. In J. L. Campbell, O. K. Pedersen (Eds.), The Rise of Neoliberalism and Institutional Analysis (pp. 249–283). Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Cillizza, Ch. (2014). How Citizens United changed politics, in 7 charts. The Washington Post, January 22. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/thefix/wp/2014/01/21/how-citizens-united-changedpolitics-
in-6-charts/?utm_term=.5ee609bb9463 (accessed February 2017).
Clawson, D., Neustadtl A. & Weller, M. (1998). Dollars and Votes. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
CNN (2016). CNN politics: Exit polls. http://www.cnn.com/election/results/exit-polls (accessed February 2017).
Cohen, P. (2008). Conservatives try new tack on campuses. The New York Times, September 22.
Danziger, Sh. & Gottschalk, P. (1995). America Unequal. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Desjardins, L. (2016). The 6 new, significant things Donald Trump said on immigration. PBS News Hour, September 1. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/six-new-significant-things-donald-trumpsaid-
immigration/ (accessed April 2017).
Diamond, J. (2015). Trump: ‘I will be a great unifier’. CNN Politics, October 26. http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/25/politics/donald-trump-democratsrepublicans-bipartisanship-great-unifier/ (accessed March 2017).
Dionne, E. J. (2016). Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism from Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Dionne, E.J., Ornstein N. & Mann, Th. (2017). One Nation After Trump. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Doherty, C. (2016). 5 facts about Trump supporters’ views on immigration. Pew Research Center, August 25.
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/25/5-facts-about-trump-supporters-views-of-immigration/ (accessed March 2017).
Domhoff, G. W. (2014). Is the corporate elite fractured, or is there continuing corporate dominance? Two contrasting views. Class, Race and Corporate Power, 3(1), 1–42.
Edsall, Th. B. (2012). The Age of Austerity: How Scarcity Will Remake American Politics. New York: Doubleday.
Edsall, Th. B. (1984). The New Politics of Inequality. New York: Norton.
Edsall, M. & Edsall, Th. B. (1992). Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights, and Taxes on American Politics. New York: Norton.
Ferguson, Th. & Rogers, J. (1986). Right Turn. New York: Hill and Wang.
Fortune Magazine (2016). Donald Trump says he would dismantle Dodd-Frank Wall Street Regulation. Fortune Magazine, May 18. http://fortune.com/2016/05/18/trump-dodd-frank-wall-street/ (accessed
Frank, Th. (2016). Listen, Liberals. New York: Picador.
Franken, A. (2017). Al Franken, Giant of the Senate. New York: Twelve.
Gallup Polling (2015). Big government still names as biggest threat to U.S. December 22. http://www.gallup.com/poll/187919/big-government-namedbiggest-
threat.aspx (accessed May 2017).
Gallup Polling (2016a). U.S. Congress approval remains low. http://www.gallup.com/poll/190598/congress-approval-remains-low.aspx (accessed February 2017).
Gallup Polling (2016b). Economy continues to rank as top U.S. problem. http://www.gallup.com/poll/191513/economy-continues-rank-top-problem.aspx (accessed April 2017).
Gallup Polling (2017a). Taxes. http://www.gallup.com/poll/1714/taxes.aspx (accessed February 2017).
Gallup Polling (2017b). Presidential approval ratings – Gallup historical statistics and trends. http://www.gallup.com/poll/116677/presidential-approvalratings-gallup-historical-statistics-trends.aspx.
Gervais, B. & Morris, I. (2018). Reactionary Republicanism: How the Tea party in the House Paved the Way for Trump’s Victory. New York: Oxford University Press.
Ghandnoosh, N. (2014). Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies. Washington DC: The Sentencing Project. http://www.sentencingproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Race-and-Punishment.pdf (accessed January 2017).
Ghandnoosh, N. & Rovner, J. (2017). Immigration and Public Safety. Washington DC: The Sentencing Project. http://www.sentencingproject.org/wpcontent/uploads/2017/03/Immigration-and-Public-Safety.pdf (accessed June 2017).
Harrell, E., Langton, L., Couzens, L. & Smiley-Mc-Donald, H. (2014). Household Poverty and Nonfatal Violent Victimization, 2008–2012. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice. https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/hpnvv0812.pdf (accessed January 2017).
Heilbroner, R. & Milberg, W. (1995). The Crisis of Vision in Modern Economic Thought. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hochschild, A. (2016). Strangers in Their Own Land. New York: The New Press.
Johnson, R. (2017). Racially polarized partisanship and the Obama presidency. In E. Ashbee & J. Dumbrell (Eds.), The Obama Presidency and the Politics of Change (pp. 161–180). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Judis, J. (2016). The Populist Explosion. New York: Columbia Global Reports.
Keynes, J. M. (1920). The Economic Consequences of the Peace. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe.
Kurzman, Ch. (2017). Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism, 2016. Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. https://sites.duke.edu/tcths/files/2017/01/Kurzman_Muslim-American_Involvement_in_Violent_Extremism_2016.pdf (accessed January 2017).
Leicht, K. & Fitzgerald, S. (2014). Middle Class Meltdown in America. New York: Routledge.
Leicht, K. & Fitzgerald, S. (2007). Postindustrial Peasants. New York: Worth.
Levitsky, S. & Ziblatt, D. (2018). How Democracies Die. New York: Crown.
Lewandowski, C. & Bossie, D. (2017). Let Trump Be Trump. New York: Center Street.
Lopéz, I. H. (2014). Dog Whistle Politics. New York: Oxford University Press.
Massey, D. (2015). The real Hispanic challenge. Pathways, Spring, 3–7. Stanford: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality.
Massey, D. & Gentsch, K. (2014). Undocumented migration and the wages of Mexican immigrants. International Migration Review, 48(2), 482–499.
MacLean, N. (2017). Democracy in Chains. New York: Viking.
Mann, M. & Ornstein, N. (2012). It’s Even Worse Than It Looks. New York: Basic Books.
Mayer, J. (2016). Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. New York: Doubleday.
McAdam, D. & Kloos, K. (2014). Deeply Divided. New York: Oxford University Press.
Mishel, L., Bivens, J., Gould, E. & Shierholz, H. (2012). The State of Working America, 12th edition. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Mizruchi, M. (2013). The Fracturing of the American Corporate Elite. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Mudge, S. (2011). What’s left of leftism? Neoliberal politics in Western party systems, 1945–2008. Social Science History, 35, 337–380.
Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (2011). Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising. Paris: OECD.
Pew Research Center (2012). Auto bailout now backed, stimulus divisive. Pew Research Center, February 23. http://www.people-press.org/2012/02/23/autobailout-now-backed-stimulus-divisive/ (accessed March 2017).
Pew Research Center (2014). Political polarization in the American public. Pew Research Center U.S. Politics and Policy, June 12. http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/political-polarizationin-the-american-public/ (accessed April 2016).
Pew Research Center (2015a). General opinions about the Federal Government. Pew Research Center, U.S. Politics & Policy, November 23. http://www.people-press.org/2015/11/23/2-general-opinionsabout-
the-federal-government/ (accessed February 2017).
Pew Research Center (2015b). Across racial lines, more say nation needs to make changes to achieve racial equality. Pew Research Center, August 5. http://www.people-press.org/2015/08/05/across-raciallines-
more-say-nation-needs-to-make-changesto-achieve-racial-equality/ (accessed May 2017).
Pew Research Center (2016). On views of race and inequality, blacks and whites are worlds apart. Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends, June 2016. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2016/0627/3-discrimination-and-racial-inequality/ (accessed January 2017).
Potok, M. (2017). The Trump Effect. Intelligence Report, Southern Poverty Law Center, February 15. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligencereport/2017/trump-effect (accessed May 2017).
Rhee, N. (2013). The Retirement Savings Crisis: Is it Worse than We Think? Washington DC: National Institute on Retirement Security. http://www.nirsonline.org/storage/nirs/documents/Retirement%-
20Savings%20Crisis/retirementsavingscrisis_final.pdf (accessed January 2017).
Shear, M. (2013). Politics and vetting leave key U.S. posts long unfulfilled. The New York Times, May 2. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/03/us/politics/top-postsremain-vacant-throughout-obama-administration.html (accessed May 2017).
Stone, R. (2017). The Making of the President 2016. New York: Skyhorse
Talkers (2017). 2016 Talkers Heavy Hundred. http://www.talkers.com/heavy-hundred/ (accessed February 2017).
Teles, S. (2008). The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Temin, P. (2017). The Vanishing Middle Class. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.
Tesler, M. & Sears, D. (2010). Obama’s Race. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (2017). Uniform Crime Reports: Hate Crime Statistics. https://ucr.fbi.gov/ucr-publications#Hate (accessed May 2017).
Vance, J.D. (2016). Hillbilly Elegy. New York: Harper Collins.
Waldman, M. (2016). The Fight to Vote. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Wheeler, R. (2016). The growing specter of vacant judgeships. The Brookings Institution, April 12. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2016/04/12/the-growing-specter-of-vacant-federal-judgeships/ (accessed May 2017).
Williams, J. C. (2016). What so many people don’t get about the U.S. working class. Harvard Business Review, November 10. https://hbr.org/2016/11/ what-so-many-people-dont-get-about-the-u-sworking-class (accessed May 2017).