The problem with this narrative is that subsequent research has demonstrated that the “economic anxiety” explanation for Trump does not survive empirical scrutiny. Since 2016, political scientists have sought to explain Trump’s rise. Again and again, they have concluded that economic hardship was not strongly associated with support for Trump. Attitudes toward issues such as immigration, differences between religious identities, differences between men and women, the “marriage gap,” and support for or opposition to so-called political correctness were much stronger predictors of support for Trump than objective economic standing. The fact that some of Trump’s support came from former Obama voters has been treated as evidence that race could not have been a motivating factor. Yet recent research has shown this to be false…

There are other problems with the claim that economic populism explains Trump’s victory and represents the most viable path to future Republican victories: Trump did not govern like a populist, yet Americans mostly approved of his handling of the economy. A major tax cut primarily benefiting wealthier Americans was his signature domestic-policy achievement when the Republican Party controlled both chambers of Congress. Furthermore, the claim that the Republicans are now the party of the working class is undercut by actual voting patterns; Joe Biden won among voters earning less than $50,000 a year by a wide margin. Trump won by a similar margin among those earning more than $100,000 a year.