Trump’s Supporters Believe a False Narrative of White Victimhood—and the Data Proves It

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The right sees its political opposition as #triggered snowflakes who need a “safe space.” In the words of Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon, “They’re either a victim of race. They’re victim of their sexual preference. They’re a victim of gender. All about victimhood and the United States is the great oppressor, not the great liberator.”

While Donald Trump and his ilk claim that victimhood is exclusive to the coastal, “politically correct” elite, I find that feelings of victimhood are central to Trump’s appeal. Trump supporters believe that whites and Christians face discrimination while people of color reap the benefits of government largess. Far from being concerned about “facts, not feelings,” Trump supporters and the conservative movement have created a false narrative of victimhood that motivates their supporters.

I examined “feeling thermometer” scores in the 2016 American National Election Studies (ANES) pilot survey (which asks respondents to rank politicians and groups from 0, meaning coldest feelings, to 100, meaning warmest feelings) to explore how they measured feelings for Trump among white respondents, based on their views of discrimination against whites and Christians.

Among whites who believe that white people face no discrimination, the mean feeling thermometer score for Trump was 25 (cold),…


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