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Wed Feb 21, 2018, 05:24 PM

Trump's Opponents Are Not a Rich Liberal Elite

By Jonathan Chait

February 21, 2018
3:48 pm

Amy Chua launches off the well-known fact that the economic elite despises Donald Trump to propose a fascinating new hypothesis about the crisis in American politics. The United States has “a market-dominant minority — a minority group, perceived by the rest of the population as outsiders, who control vastly disproportionate amounts of a nation’s wealth,” she argues. Like Indonesia’s ethnic Chinese minority, which accounts for 2–4 percent of the population but controls 70 percent of the country’s wealth, the oil-rich Sunni minority in Iraq, or other comparable groups, America’s market-dominant minority stands culturally apart from the majority yet dominates its resources.

Unfortunately, the well-known fact that supplies the foundation for this highly interesting theory is not actually true. American politics is polarized, but not by income. Trump performed the worst among the voters reporting the lowest incomes, while winning the votes of those earning more than a quarter-million dollars a year. The effect of wealth upon partisanship is difficult to tease out precisely. Race and education both have stronger effects on partisanship, and both are correlated with income, in opposite ways (white people tend to be richer and more Republican, and highly educated people tend to be richer and more Democratic).

Education, per se, is an important polarizing force dividing white voters over Trump. (Nonwhite voters tend to oppose him regardless of education level.) Isolating the effect of education shows that it moves voters away from Trump regardless of income. But this reveals that wealth pushes the other way, making voters like Trump more.

This is important because Chua is not offering up another theory of cultural division, which is familiar. She is describing the cultural elite as a market-dominant minority. But the way we measure market domination is in dollars, and Trump’s opponents are not dominating it.


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Reply Trump's Opponents Are Not a Rich Liberal Elite (Original post)
DonViejo Feb 2018 OP
Qutzupalotl Feb 2018 #1

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