Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Vanessa Baird

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Fitzgerald


In this paper I explore voter choice and what influences candidate support. Using the 2016 ANES pre- and post-election survey data I was able to examine the different social and economic variables that contributed to President Donald Trump’s election. The largest predictor of support for President Trump was having values associated with the alt-right movement; thus, sexism, racism, and nationalism were very influential in determining if a White individual would support then-candidate Trump. While current economic pessimism was also a contributing factor, it was the social issues of racism, nationalism, sexism, and anti-LGBTQ sentiment that influenced support the most. In addition, when looking at the 2012 and 2008 ANES pre- and post-election data, and comparing the variables with conservatism, it is clear that racist, sexist, and nationalistic values became correlated with conservatism within the last 10 years and were not introduced by President Trump’s campaign. Finally, the Kinder scale of racism was found to be the most relevant way to measure racism while stereotypical and biological based racism were much less correlated with either support for President Trump or conservatism.