Smitten in the Mitten: Examining Trump Support in Michigan

Student Author(s)

Thomas Conerty

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Jeffrey Polet

Document Type


Event Date



The rapid ascension of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, coupled with its sustained potency, has confounded political scientists from its inception. A campaign doomed for failure has thus far captured a plurality of support and seems destined to capture the Republican nomination barring a contested nominating convention. Many variables exist that might explain this surprising success, especially economic metrics: wealth, class, and education have all been thoroughly explored as explanatory variables for Trump’s primary wins. However, less examined are the social variables that might influence voter behavior, especially as it tends toward Trump. This paper breaks down Donald Trump’s primary election success in Michigan on a county-by-county basis, examining the relationship between white mortality rates, white suicide rates, church attendance, and divorce rates. While virtually no correlation exists between church attendance or divorce rates, a strong correlation appeared between white mortality rates, especially among males, white suicide rate, and a county’s support for Donald Trump. This correlation perhaps indicates a crisis wherein white Michiganders perceive a decline in their culture and thus seek a strongman leader promising to “restore” America through stringent immigration and deportation policies and stays on Muslim immigration into the United States.

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