- Tesler and many other academics use a set of polling questions to determine the intensity of what they call “racial resentment.” Whites who score high in racial resentment have consistently voted in higher percentages for Republican presidential candidates.
“From 1988 to 2012 average white resentment scores were very stable, but in 2016 something quite notable happened,” Tesler explained by email. Referring to data from American National Election Studies, Tesler pointed out that
White resentment was significantly lower in 2016 than had ever been recorded in the ANES. It’s not just the ANES or resentment, either. Across several surveys and attitudes, the country has grown significantly more liberal on several questions related to race, immigration, Islam and gender since Trump’s campaign.
The shift to the left was not, however, across the board. It was driven by one group: Democrats and voters who lean toward the Democratic Party.
“This growing tolerance is largely confined to Democrats and Democratic leaning Independents,” Tesler wrote, adding that
Democrats have grown more tolerant as a backlash against Trumpism. It also means that while the country is growing more tolerant, they’re also more polarized over race and ethnicity.