Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


The use of economic populist rhetoric seems to be a growing trend in America. Current literature situates a positive relationship between economic insecurity and support of populism, however the strength between the two is debated. Furthermore, much is focused on individual or country level economic insecurities as it relates to populist support, but little is focused on economic insecurities at levels in between the individual and countries. Even less is written on how often populists employ economic populist messaging, as it relates to the economic insecurities in which they are speaking. In order to determine if a relationship between the two exists, this paper will look at U.S. state-level economic data and compare it to speeches made by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election campaign. I expect to find a positive relationship between U.S. state-level economic insecurity and the amount of populist’s speech dedicated to economic populist messages. This is an important topic to study as it relates to the structure of elections and the desire for populists to tailor their messages in order to gain voter support and political power.