The utterly unsurprising analysis, published in the Washington Post on Thursday, also revealed that Republican candidates facing a Democrat drew more support in areas of the country with higher levels of fragile masculinity in 2018 House races.
NYU Psychology professor Eric Knowles and doctoral student Sarah DiMuccio say that male Trump supporters are much more insecure with their own masculinity than you’d think, and that Trump’s authoritarian, cartoonishly-machismo rhetoric makes them feel more powerful.
The researchers used Google Trends and sampled 300 men to determine that Trump appears to attract male supporters seeking to reaffirm their manliness.
“The political process provides a way that fragile men can reaffirm their masculinity,” write Knowles and DiMuccio. “By supporting tough politicians and policies, men can reassure others (and themselves) of their own manliness.”
They found an especially strong correlation between counties that voted overwhelmingly for Trump and Google searches for topics such as “how to get girls,” “penis size,” “erectile dysfunction,” “penis enlargement,” “Viagra,” “hair loss,” and “testosterone.”
Perhaps more interesting is the lack of a correlation between fragile masculinity and voting in 2008 and 2012. The researchers found that “that the correlation of fragile masculinity and voting in presidential elections was distinctively stronger in 2016” than when John McCain and Mitt Romney were Republican presidential candidates. This same lack of a correlation held up in the 390+ House races that featured a Republican versus a Democrat for those years, suggesting “that fragile masculinity has now become a stronger predictor of voting behavior.”
Though the pair makes sure to note that “the research reported here is correlational,” meaning that they cannot say for a fact that men who harbor their definition of “fragile masculinity” voted for Trump on account of that fragility, they do “think the correlations we’ve identified are important” because of the unarguable “connection between masculinity concerns and political beliefs.”
(“He referred to my hands,” Trump famously quoted Marco Rubio during a 2016 presidential debate,”‘if they’re small, something else must be small.’ I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.”)
“Trump’s re-engineering of the GOP as a party inextricably tied to many Americans’ identity concerns — whether based on race, religion or gender — will ensure that fragile masculinity remains a force in politics,” concluded Knowles and DiMuccio.
Um. You needed research for this??? https://t.co/S18JV8K2SN
— Sophia A. Nelson (@IAmSophiaNelson) November 30, 2018
— EBlackwell (@lldipity) November 29, 2018
— Miss Lelaina If You’re Trumpy (@misslelaina) November 30, 2018
— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) November 29, 2018
Fascinating: "fragile masculinity doesn’t reduce support for female candidates but rather increases support for Republican candidates of any gender." https://t.co/V0wZwgzr51
— Lisa Wade (@lisawade) November 30, 2018
Washington Post breaks the internet with the “Fragile masculinity hypothesis"
Looking at regions by what they search for: erectile dysfunction, hair loss, penis enlargement, penis size, steroids, testosterone + Viagra; Then overlaid with voting patterns.https://t.co/ZkBm5D6dQU pic.twitter.com/1Bo4k4oE56
— Barry Ritholtz (@ritholtz) November 29, 2018