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Transatlantic Populism in 2016: Brexit and Trump

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In 2016, the Western world was shocked by the victory of the "Leave" campaign in the referendum on European Union membership in Great Britain and by the victory of Donald Trump in the United States' presidential election. These two electoral

In 2016, the Western world was shocked by the victory of the "Leave" campaign in the referendum on European Union membership in Great Britain and by the victory of Donald Trump in the United States' presidential election. These two electoral successes have been called "populist" campaigns in their respective countries. In this paper, I ask whether the widespread populist sentiment in the United States and Great Britain qualifies as "populist" and should be regarded as part of the same movement. I then explore whether Trump and Leave voters are motivated by a common issue or set of issues. Initially, I frame my argument by defining populism and showing how both campaigns meet the definition. Next, I compare the Leave campaign with the Trump campaign and explore the similarities and differences in the demographics and opinions of their supporters. I determine that while the Trump and Leave campaigns certainly have differences, they should ultimately be treated as two branches of the same movement. Finally, I conclude that both campaigns are more motivated by versions of cultural resentment than economic anxiety.

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2018-05