Rust Belt rebellions: Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump, and the Democratic defectors of 1980 and 2016
AffiliationSchool of Historical and Philosophical Studies
Document TypeHonours thesis
Access StatusOnly available to University of Melbourne staff and students, login required
© 2020 Timothy Sartori
This thesis offers a comparative analysis of the electoral campaigns of Ronald Reagan in the 1980 Presidential Election, and Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election. Specifically, it addresses the attempts made by both campaigns to win over traditionally-Democratic, blue-collar voters in the 'Rust Belt' states of the American Northeast and Midwest. In seeking to understand what factors upset historical trends, and caused Democratic voters in these industrial states to abandon their party in such large numbers and embrace the opposing candidate, it asks three key questions of each campaign: Was this an intentional strategy? What was the substance of the candidate's appeal to this constituency? What factors allowed it to resonate as intended?
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