Emotional Voting, Racial Animus and Economic Anxiety in the 2016 Presidential Election


  • James J. Fahey University of Florida
  • Tracy L. Johns University of Florida
  • J. Robyn Goodman University of Florida
  • Jon D. Morris University of Florida
  • Michael J. Scicchitano University of Florida




elections, american politics


In the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential election victory, several competing theories were offered purporting to explain Trump’s appeal to American voters. These included arguments that Trump voters were more prone to hold authoritarian tendencies (Choma 2017); that Trump’s mostly “white working class” voters felt left behind in an increasingly globalized economy; or that Trump voters were attracted to the candidate’s racialized and sexist language (Schaffner et. al 2017). This paper utilizes data from AdSAM, an emotional response survey system, to measure the emotive responses of likely voters toward candidates in the 2016 election. The survey also measured emotional responses towards issues including abortion, immigration, the economy, and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The results suggest that the strongest predictors for voting for Trump were negative feelings towards the economy and negative responses to the BLM movement, and emphasizes emotional, rather than cognitive responses as explaining support for Trump.

Author Biographies

James J. Fahey, University of Florida

Graduate Student

Department of Political Science, University of Florida

Tracy L. Johns, University of Florida

Assistant Professor 

Department of Political Science

J. Robyn Goodman, University of Florida

Associate Professor 

Department of Advertising

Jon D. Morris, University of Florida


Department of Advertising

Michael J. Scicchitano, University of Florida

Associate Professor 

Department of Political Science


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