Inter-Group Resentments and Populist Mobilization in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Kerem MORGUL, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
The past two decades have witnessed a powerful surge of populist politics around the world, which has drawn increasing scholarly attention in recent years. The prevailing narrative in these accounts is one of populist political actors cashing in on a reservoir of overlooked grievances and demands that spring from large-scale social, economic, and cultural changes. These works provide useful insights into the emergence and growth of populist politics. However, they also have several shortcomings. First, they tend to homogenize populist constituencies by focusing on a particular demographic group (e.g., the white working class or white rural voters) as the social base of populism, thereby neglecting how distinct social groups may find populist projects appealing for distinct reasons. Second, scholars often invoke emotional mechanisms such as fear, anger, and resentment to explain how macro-level social changes lead to populist political attitudes and behaviors at the micro-level. To date, however, little systematic research has been undertaken to empirically examine the role of emotions in populist mobilization. Given the centrality of emotions to populist mobilization, this is an important limitation. Finally, although it is commonly acknowledged that the populist mantle can be claimed by political actors of all stripes, nearly all accounts of the recent rise of populism focus on either left- or right-wing populism but not on both, and therefore, cannot explain how the same socioeconomic and cultural processes may simultaneously bolster different and contending forms of populism. In this paper, I aim to overcome these limitations by exploring the intergroup emotions that were mobilized by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Drawing data from the 2016 American National Election Studies and using an intersectional analysis, I intend to shed light on the different types of social resentments that underlie left- and right-wing populist mobilization.