The 2016 election has often been referred to as one of the most unorthodox elections in United States history. Both major candidates had their own unusual qualities about them. Hillary Clinton was the first woman to receive a major party’s nomination. Donald Trump ran with no political experience, using a rhetoric that was foreign to the established political world. And yet, Donald Trump did the unthinkable and was elected to the highest office in the nation. He triggered a voice that many felt was silenced in recent years. By laughing in the face of political correctness, and speaking about what many felt too ashamed to say out loud, he created a whole new political climate. His wars on immigration, socialism, and the media became fighting points for all of his supporters. Cries of “Build that Wall” and “Make America Great Again” flooded the internet, Trump’s rallies, and the streets of the US. Trump became a force which has never been seen before.
Within the established political sphere, each party was known to align itself with certain traditional ideas. One major policy point the GOP fights for is smaller government, and less government intervention. Fiscal federalism is the term used to describe the levels of centralized power, and what power should be allocated to which level of the government. This thesis seeks to investigate whether the voting population is actually voting for these policies, or if something else is a driving factor. Using county-level data, specifically per capita net federal assistance as the measure for fiscal federalism, together with several control variable, regressions were run to understand how voting in the 2016 election measured up with these beliefs. Hypothetically, counties that voted Republican, should value small government. Under that assumption, they should be taking the least federal assistance, and paying the most in taxes. However, our results show that the higher Republican vote share a county had, the larger their per capita net federal assistance. Democratic vote share had a negative relationship with per capita debt, also surprising considering the Democratic party advocates for more social welfare programming. Finally, Trump-specific voting held a negative relationship as well, implying that at least part of the Trump support base does actually fall in line with these small government beliefs.