Hatfield School of Government. Division of Political Science
Kim M. Williams
Date of Award
Master of Arts (M.A.) in Political Science
1 online resource (ix, 97 pages)
Despite analysts' predictions and assertions prior to the 2016 presidential election, the Hispanic vote did not prove decisive. Donald Trump's victory elucidates a new electoral calculus, one that will be ruled simultaneously by changing demographics and the backlash against such change. While Hispanic voters largely supported Hillary Clinton, structural and individual impediments hinder their access to the voting booth and their turnout on election day. This thesis explores the reasons why the Hispanic electorate did not prove decisive in the 2016 presidential election. It further illuminates the changing Electoral College map, in which the Midwest and the Rustbelt are determined by an older white electorate and the South and Southwest are determined by an influx of minorities and immigrants, namely the Hispanic electorate.
The 2016 presidential election illustrates the demographic changes and subsequent backlash that will persist over the next decade. A growing Hispanic population and electorate will eventually alter the political calculus of national and state elections, but turnout among white voters will continue to prove decisive in the near future. White backlash and transactional voting (e.g. economic, religious) clearly clinched Trump's success in crucial swing states, ultimately securing his Electoral College win. A review of polling prior to the 2016 election, as well as case studies of economic transactional and Hispanic Trump voters, demonstrates the breakdown across party and state lines that ensured Trump's Electoral College victory, despite a large and expanding Hispanic electorate. While it will continue to grow exponentially, it is unlikely that the Hispanic electorate will prove decisive as soon as the 2020 presidential election, but it will inevitably determine national and state elections within the next decade.
Brocker-Knapp, Skyler Lillian, "The 2016 Presidential Election: Demographic Transformation and Racial Backlash" (2017). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3827.