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Study on Voter Anger Provides Insight into 2016 Election Results

Last week, the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) hosted a forum focused on voter anger at the government and how that related to the 2016 Presidential Election. Steven Kull, senior research scholar and director of the Program for Public Consultation hosted the forum.

“We are focused in what I would describe as a long-term effort to figure out how to make democracy work,” said Dean Robert Orr in his introduction to the forum. “Steven Kull is not only an excellent pollster, but an excellent analyst.”

To begin the forum, Kull detailed what went into the study, which was conducted during in July 2016. “The study I’m going to talk about is one we did in July,” he said. “The in-depth study will provide some insight into what happened at the election.”

The results of the national survey of registered voters showed high levels of dissatisfaction with the government. “Surprisingly, we did not find people in the rust belts were angrier than everyone else,” Kull said. “We did find Republicans were angrier … Trump supporters were higher on the angry side.”

The study also showed that men were angrier than women and whites were angrier than blacks and hispanics. Kull added, “Government was seen as ignoring the people. The sense that the government is run by big interests looking out for themselves has gained traction.”

After reading quotes from several of Donald Trump’s campaign speeches, Kull described how his words may have resonated with the voters who were identifying as being angry with the government. The recurring theme in Trump’s words was that elected officials were ignoring the views of the people. “The majority of people think that the views of the American people should influence the decisions of elected officials,” he said. “Trump emphasized putting the people back in charge.”

Kull added that although voters were angry with government and wanted change, “I don’t think there’s any question that a large number of Americans didn’t agree with Trump’s policy positions.”

Following Kull’s presentation, he was joined by I.M. ‘Mac’ Destler, Saul Stern Professor of Civic Engagement, for a brief question and answer session with the audience.

You can watch the video from the event on the School of Public Policy YouTube account.