The Divide

Like a bunch of folks, I’ve been watching the rhetoric of the fallout of this election. People trying to get a handle on what everything means are as interesting as anything else about it. Folks are wandering around, scratching their heads about how we’re more divided than ever—which I think isn’t right…I think we are just as divided as we’ve always been, probably less in reality, but our divisions are becoming highlighted because the social and economic ramifications of the world are getting pretty harsh in certain circles.

Regardless, folks are tied up in the argument of whether this thing that’s happened is about racism or jobs or foreign policy or emails or what.

Against this backdrop comes a Pew poll that defines the divide in light of a question about what people saw as real problems they wanted tackled.

Here’s the chart:

It’s a fascinating chart—a listing of issues, and how strongly people who backed Clinton feel about whether they are real problems vs. how strongly people who backed Trump feel about that same question. The bottom line read on this makes as much sense to me as anything: this election was about immigration first, and guns and security second.

At a 28-point gap (and capped at Clinton supporter’s 53%), “Racisim” was a lower-grade issue between the camps, but that’s an interesting question when you ask yourself how people define the category and how that category interacts with the other categories. The ability to parse illegal immigration and racism is interesting in itself. The swing of the strength of these two categories between the two populations (Trump vs. Clinton supporters) may speak volumes in pragmatics of how the two groups define the issue and see the world. For people like me, it seems logical to tie the idea of concern over illegal immigration to some element of racism, especially when discussing its ramification on jobs and base economics. Not the overt definition of racism as evidenced by various hate groups, but at least some degree of “us vs. them” as related to the economics associated with the inherently racial component of illegal immigration to begin with.

I suppose this is, in itself, a microcosm of the conversation our society is having today.

What is rasicm? How is it different to a Trump supporter vs. a Clinton supporter. Will that gap in those definitions ever change? If so, what will it take to make it happen?

The widest divides are:

Things Trump supporters cared about more than Clinton’s:

  • Illegal Immigration: 59 point gap (-32 points in “racism”)
  • Terrorism: 32 point gap (-42 points in Gun Violence)

Things Clinton supporters cared about more than Trump’s:

  • Climate Change: 52 point gap
  • Gun Violence: 42 point gap (-32 points in terrorism)
  • The Income Gap: 39 point gap
  • Racism: 32 point gap (-59 points in immigration)

No other gaps were more than 20 points.

In other words, Trump people voted to stop immigration, did not think racism was a major problem today, wanted to stop terrorism (while not considering gun violence a problem that needed be addressed), and really could care less about climate change. To highlight another point, Trump supporters really did not seem to consider the income gap as being nearly the problem Clinton’s supporters did.

Clinton people are deeply concerned with climate change, gun violence, and the income divide. They consider racism to be a bigger problem than illegal immigration, and are not intensely concerned about terrorism.

There’s your divide.

There also appears to be a gap in the idea of education, specifically the affordability of college. Trump people care about college affordability 28 points less than Clinton supporters—which is interesting. If they were worried about their children getting ahead economically, I would have expected that concern to be much higher.

Other interesting items: jobs, crime, and job opportunity were not areas where gap in concern is high, though what gap there is have Trump supporters being more concerned about them than Clinton’s.

Anyway…there you have it.

Per this, the Trump win was about:

  • Anti Illegal-immigration (which some, including me, see as tied to racism)
  • Anti-Climate Change (elitist economic issue?)
  • Concern for Terrorism
  • Guns
  • A differing concern on the income gap

My original ideas about this was that Trump’s win was about immigration and jobs, but this information makes me see it a bit differently. It makes me downgrade the jobs part of the equation. This data says it’s anti-Immigration, anti elite economic issues, and concern for self-defense (gimmie my guns so I can protect my family against the terrorists?) are the things that define the Trump voter’s concerns. Since he won, that means those things are what the election was about.

This picture says that things like concerns for jobs and the fundamental workings of the economy were generally important, but were not the issues that divided the population.

That’s interesting.

If true, I think it’s important to think about.

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  1. Wanting the rule of law, as in following the laws of the US in immigrating to the US has nothing at all to do with racism, except in the minds of those that see no problem with breaking the law.

    Are the rules tough? YEP. I know this personally because my first wife was from Southeast Asia. But if we could follow the law anyone can. I know host of people that jumped through those hoops, some from Europe and some from Asia, and to a person all feel that open borders is an insult to the time money and effort it took to get here legally. This is NOT about any race.

    BTW the same applies going in the other direction. My cousin lives lives in the land of the Norse as he says. The visa requirements and renewing it are maddeningly complicated. A renewal requires he travels back here, and wait up to 6 months, unlike here where one can show cause, (work, schooling, marriage) be renewed without leaving town.

    Do some research on how Mexico treats those comping over their southern boarder. Brutal

    Ron, you know me. You know I am anti-ILLEAGAL immigration, and you know, I am NOT a racist. And every Trump supporter that is anti-illegal that I know, is not racist.

  2. Thanks, Gregg.

    Illegal immigration is an interesting subject, and always will be. As, to me, is the question “What is racism?” At some point there is an entanglement, and to dismiss it is as fraught with danger as is the idea of saying they are tied with 100% correlation/causation. We get very tied up in the aura of not wanting to be called out as racists. I get that totally. But I still think the struggle is aligned with the question of what people view as racism. Is it possible to have a multicultural family, and still be racist? My answer is, yes. I know I personally am constantly looking at my own thoughts and seeing where the roots of them are. I personally chastise myself sometimes for the initial commentary that runs through my brain.

    Realize, though, that this chart doesn’t define terms. All it suggests is how much of a problem each group thinks that an item is. I think it’s safe to say that most everyone agrees that they would prefer to not have people doing things that are against the law. However, there is a clear split on how big of a problem the two sets of people think that topis is.

    Using the data here, 21% of Trump voters feel racism is a real problem (79% therefor do not), but 79% say that illegal immigration is. It makes me wonder how that splits. Are they essentially mirror images? Did essentially every Trump voter who selected Illegal Immigration as a major problem say racism was not? Are they homogeneous?

    Likewise, 53% of Clinton supporters say racism is a problem, but only 21% consider illegal immigration a major issue. That’s an interesting split. How are they defining the issues? Do the two groups look at the problem in the same way?

    Like I said, this data makes me question my original assumption that this had to do with jobs. This data says the jobs question was lukewarm…or, if it was real, then illegal immigration was viewed as a root cause/solution. Dunno. At the end of the day, though, I’ll stick with my main set of questions…and that set of questions starts with “what is racism?”

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