January 11, 2019
Places such as Monroe that have seen their sons and daughters die overseas at higher rates voted disproportionately for Trump, according to a 2017 study by researchers from Boston University and the University of Minnesota. Even when the authors accounted for other factors that could tilt the scales in Trump’s favor – lower college graduation rates, income level, racial diversity – they found Trump did better than previous Republicans candidates in communities that have shouldered a heavier burden for the war.
Doug Kriner, one of the authors of the study, sees the connection as part of Trump’s appeal to the forgotten men and women of America. Much of the country pays scant attention to the wars, while only a small slice of Americans go to fight. The research found those Americans responded to the politician who promised they would no longer be overlooked, Kriner wrote.
Kriner, now a professor at Cornell University, saw a warning for Trump in his research: Trump risks turning off voters who embraced his pledge to avoid “stupid wars” and being viewed as “another politician who overlooks the invisible inequality of military sacrifice.”
“For most of the first three years, Trump barked loudly at times, but was quite restrained militarily,” Kriner wrote in an email interview this past week. “But now his saber-rattling has crossed over into a dangerous escalation that risks a wider conflagration. I don’t think voters in these constituencies where Trump made inroads are necessarily anti-war. But he might not seem like a breath of fresh air anymore, but rather more of the same.”
After voting twice for Obama, Monroe County swung hard toward Trump, selecting him by a margin of more than 20 percentage points. His victory here was critical to claiming Michigan and the White House.
Sgt. Michael Ingram’s mother hasn’t voted in years. Politicians kept promising to bring home American troops and no one ever did, Patricia Kitts said.
Patricia Kitts discusses the 2010 death of her son, Sgt. Michael Ingram Jr., in Kandahar, Afghanistan,
on Wednesday in Monroe. (Photo: Claire Galofaro, AP)
“When my son passed away, everything went out of me,” she said. “I felt like why vote for somebody that keeps saying they’re going to do something and nothing ever changes?”
She’s going to vote this time, she said. It will be for whichever candidate convinces her that the ending wars will be the priority.
“Bring our babies back,” she said. “And if you promise to bring our troops home, you better bring them home.”