Data for Partisanship and Generalized Trust in Response to the 2016 Election

Published: 28 March 2020| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/69rk58gd29.1
Nicholas Spina


This paper investigates the claim that the election of Donald Trump in 2016 prompted a decline in trust among Democrats and an increase in trust among Republicans. I test these hypotheses with four-wave panel data from Pew Research's American Trends Panel project, collected before and after the election. The evidence points to a relationship between Trump’s victory and a collapse of social trust among electoral losers with strong partisan attachments. From 2014 to 2018, the sharpest declines in trust occurred among Democrats in the pre- to post-electoral period (2016-2017). Pre-election Democrats were also the least likely to become and remain trusting of others following the election. No other partisan group experienced changes of trust in response to the election, including those who only weakly identify as Democrats. However, there is also evidence that the effect was temporary. By 2018, generalized trust among Democrats rebounded. The implication of these findings is that the 2016 election had a negative effect on America’s already depleted supply of social trust.


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Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania


Public Opinion, United State Election, Interpersonal Trust