Princeton University Library Catalog

Why Did the Purple States Flip? An Analysis of Voting and Economic Conditions in Swing States in the 2016 Presidential Election

Poosson, Sean [Browse]
Senior thesis
Abreu, Dilip J. [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Economics [Browse]
Class year:
Summary note:
Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the 2016 presidential election left many forecasters struggling to figure out where their predictions had gone wrong. Amid their reflection, a narrative emerged suggesting that many moderate constituents voted for the Republican candidate as a response to a downturn in measures of economic wellbeing. For states in which the Republican margin of victory was narrow, this narrative suggests that economic status was an important factor in the voters’ final decision. Using voting results along with income and unemployment data from three swing states, this paper assesses the veracity of these claims from a marginal perspective. The results show that, while economic factors were significant predictors of voter behavior, increases in income and employment were not associated with greater support for Trump. This outcome suggests that while economic conditions were important, external factors were likely more influential on the result of the 2016 election.