What they are thinking

On the eve of primary season, I posted an article title “What are they thinking?” about partisans supporting the dozens of candidates.  I have continued those conversations, and the answers are surprisingly similar to what they were ten months ago.

This analysis stems an unscientific case selection, but observations from ongoing, in-depth informal conversations.

Below, I discuss the three candidates polling over 5% in national surveys.  This is an extremely abbreviated analysis.

Hillary Clinton


  • Fear of a white nationalist taking over the country.  Clinton voters are most primarily concerned by the perceived threat of Donald Trump presents to the political status quo.  This fear is reinforced by the recent neopopulist Brexit vote, which has significantly damaged the British economy.  Clinton voters genuinely belive that Trump will suspend civil rights garnered throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first century.
  • Pride in supporting one of the more qualified candidates in recent memory.  A large contingent of Clinton voters are proud to support Clinton based on her experience in the Senate and as Secretary of State.  Her experience – both positive and negative – are highlights to these partisans’ beliefs.
  • Anger towards an economic system that has injured poorer people of color.  A smaller contingent of Clinton supporters are the more progressive wing of the Democratic party — those most likely to support Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  They see Clinton as the only viable option to support their aims.  Further, Clinton’s recent adoption of parts of Sanders’ platform (raising the minimum wage) has ameliorated some of the Sanders supporters’ dissent.

Donald Trump

  • Fear of continued corruption and/or “evil” running the country.  Nearly all Trump voters genuinely believe that either Clinton is a corrupted career politician or a force of evil in a metaphysical battle for the nation’s soul.  For those who prioritize religion, this observation is an immediate deal-breaker – to the extent that Trump looks good on paper.
  • Fear of an “other” group (Islam, Hispanics, etc) overrunning traditional values.  These “traditional values” can often be boiled down into a charismatic Protestant Christian message, with a preference towards white suburbia.  Hearkening back to a time when America “was great” is not always an intentional articulation of racism, although some elements would identify with white supremacy.  Anyone who interacts with Islam is not to be trusted in this model.
  • Anger towards an economic system that has injured poorer white people.  Three main things take the blame for the economic system: foreign trade (that ship jobs overseas), immigrants (who take jobs from American workers), and those on welfare (who benefit from government taxes taken from American workers).  Trump voters genuinely believe that white Americans are swindled by foreigners, the unemployed can not find work due to immigrants and the employed lose income because of the poor — who in nearly every stereotype is a minority.

Gary Johnson

  • Protest vote against Clinton and Trump.  Johnson is the highest on the ballot protest vote for people disgusted with both Clinton and Trump.  Many of these folks have departed their protest vote in recent days – shifting to whomever they planned to vote for originally.  Some Bernie Bros continue to hold out, not realizing that Johnson has nearly the exact opposite beliefs as Sanders.
  • Ideologically driven beliefs based on theory.  Some folks actually like libertarian policies, and would like to live in a world with a minimized government.
  • Potheads.  Johnson also wins the support of those who want to legalize recreational marijuana.


Written by Sam

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