The Zoology of Trump Supporters

In reading the recent spate of analyses of voters who support Donald Trump, I am reminded of a TV show popular when I was a kid, Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, an educational show on animals. We now have a number of Jane Goodalls in the media, regaling us with reports on a bizarre new species, Trumpa Supportis.

I say this tongue-in-cheek, of course, but the analogy is surprisingly strong. The media talking heads have no Trump supporters in their social circles, and thus view Trump supporters as a strange breed, using exactly the same tone, body language and “otherness” wording that one would find on Wild Kingdom. In fact, an analysis I heard today on Marketplace discussed the Trump types — those angry about globalization etc. — going extinct. They didn’t use that word, but it was the same notion.

Last week, I heard another interviewer of a “Jane Goodall” ask how blue collar types could possibly support a rich man like Trump, as if this journalist never heard of FDR or the Kennedys. Apparently, to her Trump voters are such “a different animal” that these historical precedents just didn’t come to mind.

And, as with any other newly-discovered species, statistical studies of the Trumpists are being to come out, such as this new one by Jonathan Rothwell, reported last week in the Washington Post. I have not been a Rothwell fan in the past, due to his biased and technically flawed research on H-1B, but I must say that in skimming through his working paper, he seems to have done a careful, insightful and knowledgeable job, dispelling a lot of myths. Pretty good work for a globalist like Rothwell.


11 thoughts on “The Zoology of Trump Supporters

  1. It is traditional politics for the King to ally with the Commoners against the Aristocracy. Any political analyst who doesn’t know that should immediately bring their college degree to the nearest genius bar for repair.

    You did not mention that Rothwell publishes his paper through Gallup, which has been overall a decent polling organization. Nor that the very title of the paper shows bias, “Explaining Nationalist Political Views: The Case of Donald Trump”. Normally I would not read past that.

    OMG what else. He goes right to the heart of things and claims that statistical analysis shows that support for Hitler came from Germans. This guy is a off and running! Of course he has already violated Godwin’s Law and again, I would not normally read further.

    He then claims that people’s opposition to “trade” (TPP is about anything *but* trade, but he assumes the opposite, shallow and incompetent as he is) is based on some kind of emotional bias and not on simple rational economic interest. He even has a citation for this. Hey, citation does not turn garbage into gold. Sorry Norm, I did stop reading at this point.

    I came up through the social sciences as much as the technical side, and on both sides I know garbage papers when I see them, whether I’m serving as a referee or reading them in print – and yes plenty of garbage makes it to print in more or less respectable journals. Of which Gallup is not even one. Sturgeon’s Law predominates, as Rothwell clearly illustrates.


    • Rothwell’s study is not perfect by any means. I could cite various objections of my own, and maybe should have done so, but my point is that it is much better than what we have been seeing.

      I don’t have a problem with the title, and I think you’ve misread that paragraph on “economic interest” that you cite. I believe that his point is that Trump’s supporters on the trade issue are generally NOT those who have lost jobs to trade, as the media has claimed.


      • >Trump’s supporters on the trade issue are generally NOT those who have lost jobs to trade

        Norm, every American has “lost jobs to trade”, any attempt to attribute a *direct* causation from a specific case of outsourcing to an individual, is simplistic, naïve, and actually an attempt at insult, *direct* losses are fairly uncommon and could never begin to explain Trump’s support to date. You are very familiar with the several flavors such indirectness can have that impacts jobs and incomes.


  2. Well, talk today on Morning Joe, with James Carville and his new book with Trump coming out the butt of the GOP elephant, is saying Turmp never wanted this job all along and will have a pay-for-view $8 a month subscription to his new media-political party network. A big con and he will make more money than ever.

    Morning Joe continued about the new alliance of Trump, Brietbart’s Bannon (Drudge Report poster), Ailes (who would want his own network after being removed from Fox). Interesting that Ailes built Fox in revenge to NBC passing him up years ago, NBC cable has paid for that ever since. Now he’ll do it to Murdock’s sons at Fox. Trump is “in the hen house” now calling Fox everyday as the only cable show he’ll talk to, it’ll become a more revolutionary Fox. It is so clear it is comical.

    They’ll have a bigger voice than ever. After Hillary’s state of the union address, people will be more interested in Trump’s network response than the speech by an opposing party senator.


    • Kevin Shih was Giovanni Peri’s student. I met him briefly and he seemed pretty reasonable, though my attempt to continue our conversation in e-mail didn’t really go anywhere.


    • In your link Shih makes the claim that immigrants are better than the natives (comparative advantage) but does not explain why.

      “…. when high-skilled immigrants with comparative advantages in fields like science and mathematics enter the U.S. labor force. Rather than being laid off, native skilled workers moved to occupations that required more managerial and communication skills.”


      • You’ve misinterpreted the quote. It merely says that the Americans have good communication skills. So, if the immigrants swell the STEM labor market and thus make it more difficult for the Americans to get jobs, it makes sense for them to seek the “talking” jobs.


    • If the intent is to fill the STEM jobs with immigrants, why are we giving American children the idea that they will be able to get STEM jobs in the future? There is an incredible effort to encourage girls to enter the STEM fields. I have a 10 year old granddaughter who says she wants to be an electrical engineer when she grows up. I am trying to point her to people intensive STEM fields that are valuable to the military or government. This supports the comments in the article that native Americans will move into areas requiring communication skills where immigrants are weak.

      This is sad in that I trained as an EE beginning in 1966 and an concerned about my sons and son-in-law who are all EEs or working in electrical materials. One son expects to be unemployable within 5 years even though he has twice in 7 years to have been recognized by his company as one of the 50 top employees (basically top 2%)..The others have even more limited opportunities.

      Liked by 1 person

      • On the topic of encouraging girls to enter the STEM fields, I have recently seen one a horrendously false claim being quoted for this aim. The claim is that “by 2018, there could be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs”. As shown at , the source for this claim appears to be a “Fact Sheet” pointed to by the “Women in STEM” page on the White House web site. That fact sheet gives no source for the claim but the analysis at the above link traces it back to a 2011 paper that projected that 2.4 million stem jobs would be created between 2008 and 2018. Some math wizard seems to have interpreted this to mean that all 2.4 million of these jobs would be unfilled in 2018! The above link shows numerous references to this claim by articles that are encouraging girls to get into STEM. It’s not unreasonable for people to think that they can believe stats that are on the White House web site. But this shows that it is a serious mistake. It would help for anyone who is concerned about this topic to try to bring this false claim to the attention of the White House and see that they take steps to see that claims made on the White House web site are fact-checked. I will do the same.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Regarding the false claims on the White House web site, it is possible to send a comment to the White House at . I did send the following comment:

          I wanted to make you aware of several false claims being made on the White House web site that are being widely quoted by other sources. Two of them are the following claims at :

          > Today there are over half a million unfilled jobs in information technology across all sectors of the economy, which reinforces the notion that computer science has become a basic requisite for 21st century jobs. Economic projections indicate that by 2018, there could be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs.

          > The first claim of over half a million unfilled jobs in information technology is addressed at . The second claim of 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs by 2018 is addressed at . As explained there, this appears to come from a 5-year old projection of the total STEM jobs that would be created from 2008 through 2018, NOT the number the jobs that would be unfilled in 2018.

          > Two other false claims that are repeated in the White House blog are addressed at and . Both of these have been widely repeated in defense of various policies. Because of the high credibility that many people give to statements made on the White House web site, it seems critical that such claims be thoroughly fact-checked so that false claims such as these are not stated as fact. Thank you.

          Any other suggestions are welcome.

          Liked by 1 person

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