Intelligencer’s Eric Levitz gives a summary of Bartels’ findings. Making ideological distinctions in the population is notoriously difficult, given the complexity of each individual’s positions; Bartels filtered through YouGov poll respondents to isolate “ethnic antagonism” as specific voter disposition, as opposed to partisanship, economic conservatism, cultural conservatism, or other factors. This was scored according to responses to questions such as “discrimination against whites is as big a problem today as discrimination against Blacks and other minorities,” questions that measure white voter anxiety towards other American groups.
After filtering out those ideological distinctions, Bartels found that “ethnic antagonism” is a better predictor of anti-democratic beliefs than any other category. It’s not economic anxiety or culture war battles that are causing Republicans to increasingly declare that “force” may be necessary to upend the results of elections. It’s racism.
Bartels even found that the other ideological dispositions, such as economic conservatism, were negatively associated with those authoritarian beliefs. Nope! It’s just the racism.
Now, at this point it may seem obvious that Republican devotion to Trump is based on racism, and not fears about any other sodding thing in existence. Trump has managed to kill off nearly 200,000 people through incompetence, drive us into a recession-bordering-on-depression, and has managed to handle even the rote “inspirational” parts of the job with all the charisma of a rotting fish. Just as he did during the 2016 campaign, he instead is making a racial, racist case for keeping power based on stoking fears toward anti-police-brutality protesters, racially repackaging the pandemic as “the China virus,” and similar new bleatings.
Trump knows his appeal is based on racism. Trump’s campaign is operating under the assumption that his appeal is based on his racism. Republican lawmakers supporting Trump are standing behind his adventures in racism, and adding their own versions. And we’ve now got yet another study showing that racism, violent racism, is the impetus behind Republican anti-democratic beliefs.
It seems the only people left in America uncertain about whether Republican and conservative rhetoric aimed at discrediting elections and thwarting the normal rule of law is racially motivated are the nation’s political pundits and headline writers. Everyone else is pretty clear on where we stand.
In past years, those anti-democratic and authoritarian sentiments manifested themselves through racial gerrymandering and voter suppression efforts. Trump’s Republican allies have cut straight to the point, however, with suggestions that a November election that does not return Trump to power might not have legitimacy at all. The suggestions are being opportunistically amplified by foreign anti-democratic groups; they are almost certain, now, to cause post-election violence and terrorism.
You know, from racists. Trump’s most devoted—and dangerous—base.