The 2016 U.S. presidential election was a watershed event that signaled decreasing political moderation and increasing partisan polarization, authoritarianism, and ethno-nationalism. Iowa, located at the center of the American Heartland, swung to the political right more than any other state. Multivariate regression analysis of county-level data is used to determine the relative contribution of factors reputed to have caused voters to support Trump: rurality, economic distress, and social identity. We find that rurality and social identity, but not economic distress, were significantly correlated with Iowa’s swing to Trump. Polarization along these social divisions must be addressed if the Heartland is to return to political moderation.
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