Question: How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: None. The light bulb has to want to change!One of the reasons given why Trump won the election is that racists propelled him to victory. So I was curious about just how many racists there are in the United States and tried a variety of google searches including "how many racists in america." The results are surprisingly unspecific and I'm finding them uninterpretable (so far).
I've been pulled down lots of dead ends in trying to quantify this. For example, I learned that about half of Hispanics in the U.S. (52%) say they have experienced discrimination or have been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity. Sounds really bad, right? But then, 43 percent of Americans told researchers that discrimination against whites has become as large a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minority groups. While those two things aren't necessarily contradictory, it seems that either everybody's discriminating against everybody else, or lotsa folks are making mountains outta molehills.
And then discrimination and racism are different things. As I try to get my daughters into good colleges I find that in the name of racial diversity, some spots are reserved for others of different races. Since I think that's a load of BS and since blue-eyed, blonde, Senator Elizabeth Warren got away with claiming native american ancestry, I've told my daughter to just check the "African-American" box on the applications (I figure we're at least 1 part in a trillion black), but unfortunately, she's uncomfortable doing that (maybe I would be too). But the folks reserving spots aren't necessarily racist, just discriminatory. And unfortunately for me, discriminatory against my family.
And then there are degrees of racism. Is it racist to be attracted for mating purposes to only people of your own race or is it merely discriminatory? I claim that it's mild racism and that indeed, since that applies to me, I'm mildly racist. But statistically, given that most married people in the United States are married to someone of the same race, that would basically mean that nearly everyone is mildly racist. In which case, yes, most people who voted for Trump are (mildly) racist. But so are most of those that voted for Clinton!
I went on to consider people who are clearly extremely racist: those belonging to white supremacy groups. For that, at least, one can get a hard number - people who belong to such a group. Percentage-wise, there aren't all that many:
Levin estimated fewer than 50,000 people are members of white supremacist groups...That's slightly more than one in ten-thousand people and really not enough to have affected the election outcome. That's a lower bound, of course, but it's one of the few hard numbers I could find on the topic.
The last bit of evidence I found intriguing is the number of predominantly white counties that voted for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016. In other words, white folks who, when they had the chance to vote for a black person, did so. I find it hard to interpret that voting pattern as racist against blacks. And it seems that these particular voters were extremely important in putting Trump over the top.
In conclusion, I think it's really hard to find hard evidence that Trump won because of racism. Perhaps he did, especially depending on how you define racism, but I think that, at best, the focus on racism detracts from other factors that are likely more important.