The conventional line about this year’s primary season is that Donald Trump has capitalized on the growing anxiety and seething anger of white, male, working-class voters whose economic situation has been increasingly threatened by globalization, deindustrialization, and the rise of the knowledge economy. But the reality is that this current runs far deeper than “Trumpism.” It increasingly defines the three other remaining GOP candidates, and in some ways the Republican Party as a whole.
That’s the big takeaway of my analysis of the geography of this year’s Republican primaries, which I conducted with a team of political, demographic, and economic researchers. Our research examines the key economic and demographic characteristics of the counties that voted for each of the three remaining GOP candidates—Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich—as well as Marco Rubio, who exited the race last month. David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report generously shared his detailed dataset of Republican primary votes by county. Todd Gabe of the University of Maine matched Wasserman’s primary voting data to data on the economics and demographics of counties, and ran the correlation analysis. And my Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) colleague Greg Spencer mapped the data and performed an additional analysis.