Supporting the President in a #NotMyPresident Context: Experiences of College-Aged Trump Supporters at a Southern University
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In light of sexual misconduct allegations involving the former president of the United States, this study analyzes the reasons some university students provide for their continued support of Donald Trump. Relying on ten semi-structured qualitative interviews with college students who align with the president, this paper identifies three interrelated stages making up a model of support. First, students identify their conservative worldviews as helping to explain their initial support of Trump. Second, given the numerous accusations leveled against the president in the media, students readily use neutralization tactics to counter these narratives and rationalize their continued support. Finally, they feel vilified at their university and elsewhere for supporting Trump, and they find it necessary to conceal their opinions. Such experiences do not contribute to them questioning their beliefs. On the contrary, they lead to more entrenched and rigid support of the president. By identifying this three-stage process and applying neutralization theory to better understand it, this paper contributes to the existing sociological literature on the persistence of conservatism in the United States today.