Michael Hout: Was Trump a Meteor or a Volcano? Racial Resentment and Immigration Built Up as Strong Predictors of Whites' Votes from the 2000 Election to the 2012 Election


Monday, February 27, 2017, 12:00pm to 1:45pm


Harvard Kennedy School: Allison Dining Room

Michael HoutProfessor of Sociology, New York University.

The election of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States shocked many voters and most professional observers, but there were data to indicate the latent potential of such an outcome.

Quantitative data presented here reveal that racial resentment and opposition to immigration were strong and rising predictors of whites' votes in the 2008 and 2012 elections; our qualitative data shows that both factors were strong correlates of Tea Party activism. Obama's victories hid from view how politicized racial resentment and anti-immigrant feelings had become.

The distribution of attitudes and opinions did not change much over the last twenty years, but voters came to connect their views of race and immigration to their voting choices more in recent elections than they had prior to 2004. Our data also reveal a partisan cleavage on the environment and ``hard work'' that, though less of a theme in the 2016 campaign than in 2012, were also among the emerging predictors in recent elections. 

About the speaker

Michael Hout is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Advanced Social Science Research (CASSR) at New York University. His research interests include inequality, social change, demography; and quantitative methods.

Hout uses demographic methods to study social change in inequality, religion, and politics. He is co-principal investigator on the General Social Survey (GSS), a long-running NSF project. His current work uses the GSS to study changing occupational hierarchies and social mobility since 1972.

He chairs a National Academy of Sciences standing committee, the American Opportunity Study, an inquiry into long-term trends in social mobility based on census records linked across generations. With Kim Voss and Kristin George, he has studied college dropout and completion between 1982 and 2004.

Hout's books include Century of Difference (with Claude Fischer, 2006), winner of the Otis Dudley Duncan award for outstanding scholarship in social demography; The Truth about Conservative Christians (with Andrew Greeley, 2006), Inequality by Design (with five Berkeley colleagues, 1996), Following in Father's Footsteps: Social Mobility in Ireland (1989), and Mobility Tables (1983).

Hout was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 1997, the National Academy of Sciences in 2003, and the American Philosophical Society in 2006.

Before coming to NYU in 2013, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1985 to 2013, and the University of Arizona from 1976 to 1984.

Learn more about Hout's work


See also: Spring 2017