Economic Anxiety and the Limits of Data Journalism | The Baseline Scenario: "The other problem with the Rothwell paper, which I discuss at length here, is multicollinearity. It is true that Rothwell found that income was a positive and significant predictor of Trump support, at least in the full sample. But his “controls” included employment status, “works in blue collar occupation,” union member, highest degree, share of college graduates in the region, and median income in the region, all of which are correlated with household income. For example, if blue-collar workers make less money and are more likely to support Trump, that effect could be attached to the blue-collar variable (which it was) and not to the income variable (which it wasn’t). Multicollinearity doesn’t bias your results, but it makes them much more fragile.
The general problem with arguments of the form Trump-supporters-are-actually-rich is this: compared to what? If you want to answer the question of how well Trump is doing with working-class voters, you need a baseline. You can’t expect him to poll evenly with Clinton among any group of poor people: as Matthews acknowledges, “Lower-income whites are always likelier to support Democrats than other whites.” So saying that Trump supporters are richer than Clinton supporters, or that some group of poor people favors Clinton, doesn’t prove much. And as we’ve seen, Trump voters are not rich compared to other Republican primary voters.
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