Understanding Mongo: He Simply Has To Bring Up Race To Get His Supporters Fired Up For Him

All it takes to reduce support for housing assistance among Donald Trump supporters is exposure to an image of a black man.

That’s the takeaway from a new study by researchers Matthew Luttig, Christopher Federico, and Howard Lavine, set to be published in Research & Politics. In a randomized survey experiment, the trio of researchers exposed respondents to images of either a white or black man. They found that when exposed to the image of a black man, white Trump supporters CUwWsIzVEAAMv1Jwere less likely to back a federal mortgage aid program. Favorability toward Trump was a key measure for how strong this effect was.

The study is just the latest to show that racial attitudes are a powerful predictor for support for Trump. Previous studies have found that racial resentment was a much stronger indicator of support for Trump than views about the economy. And other research has shown that priming people to think about race can make them more conservative on a host of issues.

This latest study is notable, though, because all it uses is an image of a black man to produce its results. That suggests that Trump has a powerful incentive to get people to keep thinking about race: If his most ardent supporters just need a slight racial cue to come around to his conservative policy views, then Trump simply has to bring up race to get his supporters fired up for him.

German Lopez

Trump voters are very complex. They are conservatives who believe big government is getting out of hand. They want lower taxes for the middle class. They believe in comprehensive immigration reform. They want an economic policy that reflects the average . . .  

Nah, I’m just bullshitting. They just don’t like black people.

According to Vox, they could be triggered by a photograph of a black person. Although I don’t like the word “snowflake,” when a Trump voter sees a black person, they could change all their political values. Now, I’m not saying they are racist, but . . .  

OK, I’m saying they are racist.

More specifically, a new study (pdf) by political scientists at Colgate and the University of Minnesota proves they have racist tendencies. That’s not just a popular opinion; it is a statistical fact.

When researchers simply asked subjects how they felt about a not-so-complex housing-assistance issue, they were split on their support. But there was a ecce54ffd72eb0a84bf9ad2a718a6bb7---presidential-election-donald-trumpsubtle twist to the study: When the information about the issue was accompanied by a picture of a white person, Trump voters were much more likely to support it than when they were cued by an image of a black person. It revealed something we knew all along:

Trump voters aren’t conservatives. They aren’t necessarily Republicans. They’re just racists.

The study revealed that when Trump voters were exposed to the “black cue,” it not only made them less supportive of the issue. It made them angry. Yes, a picture of a black man—not an actual black man, but a picture of a black man—made them mad.

The study controlled for socioeconomic status and education and found no statistical difference between white and black Hillary Clinton supporters when they were exposed to racial cues. The study did not include data about black Trump supporters because Omarosa and Ben Carson were kinda busy.


Even though there are some who say, “Just because they voted for Trump and hate seeing black people doesn’t mean they’re racist” (did I mention that it was a picture? A picture, son!), numerous polls and studies have shown this before. There’s the 2016 poll showing that when white people were told that America’s white population would soon be eclipsed by nonwhites, they became more likely to support Donald Trump.

Then there was the study that linked whites’ perception of our need to get “tough on crime” to racial resentment. And that other research that linked the government’s need to fix structural inequality to racial resentment. Don’t forget the Pew Research Center’s data showing that most Republicans oppose Black Lives Matter.

So when you see someone driving on the freeway on-ramp with a “Make America Great Again” bumper sticker on their car, feel free not to let them merge into traffic, because they might be triggered by a picture of you (wait—let me make sure I included the part about a picture . . . OK, I did).

Michael Harriot

2 Responses to “Understanding Mongo: He Simply Has To Bring Up Race To Get His Supporters Fired Up For Him”

  1. 1 sally September 19, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Sad! Believe me! Sad!

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