Robots Determined the Outcome of the 2016 Election. Or Maybe Not.

Brookings: “…the map makes clear that while industrial robots are by no means everywhere, they are clustered heavily in a short list of Midwestern and Southern manufacturing states, especially the upper Midwest… It is telling that the robot incidence in red states that voted for President Trump in November is more than twice that in the blue states that voted for Hillary Clinton… This is not to say robots determined the outcome of the 2016 election. However, the red-state robot concentration does suggest that to the extent industrial automation brings difficult labor market transitions and anxiety, it will visit those difficulties most heavily on a particular swath of red-leaning America—specifically, the most robot-exposed locations in the industrial Midwest. To be sure, the disruption that will come with the continued adoption of broader “office” technologies like artificial intelligence will likely be felt on a wider national scale. But for its part, the robot portion of the automation fear is, and should continue to be, more confined.

In that sense, robots appear to be playing a special role in the specific unease of at least one region.”

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Question: Since industrial robots have been present in large quantities in Michigan and other states with heavy industries for quite some time, why have the same people who tolerated them for such a long time (and as a result, according to the Brookings paper logic, voted for the Democrats’ presidential candidate), all of a sudden became “anxious” about robots (and as a result, voted for the Republicans’ presidential candidate)?