The triumph of Trumpism

Donald Trump’s ascent to the White House was cleared and paved by an ignored underclass with the support of more recently socially-demoted segments of US society. John Komlos maps the path.

Donald Trump won the election in 2016 arguably because a handful of voters in three Rust Belt states switched their votes from Democratic to Republican. Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin have not voted for a Republican president since 1988 and they all backed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. A change of a miniscule 39,000 votes from Trump to Clinton in these states would have clinched the victory for her (Table 1).

Economic dislocations played a crucial role in these states to induce their citizens to vote for an anti-establishment candidate. The sources of the dislocation were the development of a dual economy characterised at one end by low and stagnating wages, increasing debt, downward social mobility, declining relative incomes, and the hopelessness accompanying them, while at the other end of the income distribution the economy was booming. The less-skilled segment of the population in these Rust Belt states was devastated

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