The Impact of Immigration on the 2016 Presidential Election

Christopher Maggio

The election of Donald Trump raised many questions about the impact of immigration on American politics. This article asks whether Trump’s appeals to nativism were particularly effective in places undergoing rapid growth in foreign-born, Hispanic, and/or Asian populations. I use techniques accounting for selection into treatment to examine the relationship between demographic changes at the county level and voting patterns in the 2016 presidential election. Analyzing individual-level survey data and controlling for voting patterns in 2012, I find that voters living in counties with a rapid percentage point increase in the Hispanic population since 2000 were more likely to vote for Trump in the general and primary elections. I find similar results when analyzing county-level election results, but these effects do not replicate when analyzing only the swing states. This provides reason to be cautious about claims that immigration “won” Trump the election.

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 Presented in Session 189. Flash Session: New and Pressing Immigration Issues