A very common view of the political spectrum is the traditional Left vs. Right representation. On the far left are the Communists, on the far right are the Nazis, and all the other parties are somewhere in between.
This seems simple enough, in particular in a two-parties democracy like the US. Of course, both the Republican and the Democrat party would actually represent a cloud on this line, not a single point, and this is why the primaries can display diverse opinions within the same party. On a simple chart like this one, both Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz were on the left side of their respective primary winners.
Between, politically speaking "between Trump and Hillary", you'd then expect the left wing of the Republicans to pick Hillary, and some of them did. But this simple left/right view does not explain why so few Bernie supporters voted for Hillary, as the Democrat nominee was closer from them than the Republican.
I then started looking for other representations, allowing for more explanations. Most other representations only cross that existing left/right spectrum against an "anarchist versus authoritarian" view, like this one.
In this two-dimension view, Cruz and Clinton would remain close enough (neither anarchist nor authoritarian), but authoritarian Trump and anarchist Sanders would be even further to each other, only calling for a strong Bernie vote in favor of Hillary. This is not what happened, though.
While I was stuck with the traditional views, I was also watching the upcoming French election, only to see similar trends. In all presidential elections since WWII, we had a traditional left/right opposition, and the votes of the first round losers were "logically" reported on the closest remaining candidate. But the polls this year were then seeing six frontrunners, not only two! More interestingly, two of these frontrunners were facing each other in the Socialist primary, each one representing one side of his party in this left/right view. Still, the polls conducted on both scenarios did not reflect the expected vote shifts. An elimination of former PM Manuel Valls in the primary would mostly benefit former Republican PM François Fillon and not former Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron. This was absolutely incredible, and somehow reflected the puzzling outcome of the US election.
It then was explained by this interview, claiming that electors in each group tended to radicalized along two major questions:
- Globalization. Globalization is not seen as "everybody wins" anymore. Wall Street, big companies, and a few people benefit from it while unskilled workers and small businesses cannot compete with developing countries salaries. In this scheme, "Wall Street candidates" like Clinton are opposed to "People candidates" like Trump or Sanders.
- Minorities. Not restricted to "the place of Black and Hispanic minorities in the society", but also dealing with immigration policies and "sanctuary cities", LGBT rights and "bathroom bills". This is where the old left/right scheme is still visible: progressists like Sanders and Clinton can oppose conservators Trump and Cruz.
While crossing these two views, you obtain 4 different politic groups, each of them in one corner of the graph, showing the radicalization of the electors in each of the group: