Campaigning on “Political Correctness”: Revisiting the 2016 Election of Donald Trump

Frank J. Gonzalez, David C. Wilson, Darren W. Davis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The belief that there is too much political correctness (PC) in society is pervasive but seems to have been leveraged particularly well by the political right, and specifically, by Donald Trump as he ran for the United States’ highest office in 2016. We assess the nature of public concern over PC (PC concern) to understand how it has been used to influence political attitudes and behavior in the 2016 presidential election. We argue that PC concern was central to the 2016 Trump campaign, transmitted to the public primarily through Trump’s “Make America Great Again” (“MAGA”) slogan. Data from a state-level survey reveal that PC concern strongly predicted support for Trump above and beyond other issue attitudes. Moreover, PC concern was highest among Whites and individuals on the political right. Randomly varying the target of PC had no impact on this result, suggesting PC concern reflects concerns about minority groups broadly rather than concerns about any one particular group. Further, results of a list experiment show respondents saw PC as a core feature of the MAGA slogan, and this held across participants and targets of PC. This finding suggests that PC concern has political consequences and was effective in the 2016 presidential election.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPolitical Communication, Culture, and Society
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781000930092
ISBN (Print)9781032459509
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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