There is no typical Trump voter


There has been quite a cottage industry of political commentators trying to figure out how a dangerous buffoon like Donald Trump could get enough votes to be elected president. The popular version is that he was propelled into office by low-information, rural and working class angry voters. But this article says that that stereotype is false and that there really is no typical Trump voter.

[A]ccording to what is arguably the next-best measure of class, household income, Trump supporters didn’t look overwhelmingly “working class” during the primaries. To the contrary, many polls showed that Trump supporters were mostly affluent Republicans.

Far from being a magnet for the less educated, Trump seemed to have about as many people without college degrees in his camp as we would expect any successful Republican candidate to have.

Among people who said they voted for Trump in the general election, 35 percent had household incomes under $50,000 per year (the figure was also 35 percent among non-Hispanic whites), almost exactly the percentage in NBC’s March 2016 survey. Trump’s voters weren’t overwhelmingly poor. In the general election, like the primary, about two thirds of Trump supporters came from the better-off half of the economy.

Observers have often used the education gap to conjure images of poor people flocking to Trump, but the truth is, many of the people without college degrees who voted for Trump were from middle- and high-income households. That’s the basic problem with using education to measure the working class.

In short, the narrative that attributes Trump’s victory to a “coalition of mostly blue-collar white and working-class voters” just doesn’t square with the 2016 election data.

What this suggests is that Trump’s core message of xenophobia, misogyny, and racism had broader appeal than popularly thought.

Comments

  1. Jessie Harban says

    What this suggests is that Trump’s core message of xenophobia, misogyny, and racism had broader appeal than popularly thought.

    Not necessarily. Remember, in a two party system, a candidate can only ever be evaluated in reference to their opponent; they can “win” by not shooting themselves in the foot as hard as their opponent does.

    Trump’s message of xenophobia, misogyny, racism, and the fascist’s empty promise that economic prosperity will result from the above three stood against Clinton’s message of… nothing. Or rather, nothing meaningful; she made promises, but her own lengthy career proved just how empty they were.

    Exit polls revealed that a considerable majority of Trump voters aren’t actually Trump supporters; they hated Trump, but the two party system gave them two intolerable options so they held their noses and picked the lesser evil. Claiming that they prove Trump’s message is popular is exactly the opposite of the lesson we need to learn— in actuality, the best way to beat Republicans is to run liberal candidates who can actually articulate a progressive message, not slavers who kowtow to Wall Street and demand we vote for them because they’re the “lesser evil.”

  2. invivoMark says

    Far from being a magnet for the less educated, Trump seemed to have about as many people without college degrees in his camp as we would expect any successful Republican candidate to have.

    So… Trump was a magnet for the less educated [just like your standard Republican candidate], and the typical Trump voter is uneducated and ignorant? I feel like this author undercut their own argument with stunning efficiency here.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    The typical Trump voter is misinformed, bigoted, and resentful.

    I know because I’ve met him.

  4. hyphenman says

    I’ve always looked at conservative voters as neither good nor bad, intelligent nor crazy/stupid, but rather as narrowly self interested; as opposed to my view of progressive voters as broadly self interested.

    To steal a Marxist-Leninist meme:conservatives want to narrow the power base thus focusing more power in their cohort while progressives want to broaden the power base thus spreading more power across their cohort.

    Cheers,

    Jeff Hess
    Have Coffee Will Write

  5. KG says

    Exit polls revealed that a considerable majority of Trump voters aren’t actually Trump supporters – Jessie Harban@1

    Do you have a reference for that? All the exit polls I’ve seen, such as this and this indicate that Trump voters were on average richer, whiter, maler, older, more Christian, less LGBT than Clinton voters, and that the great majority of them agreed with Trump about his key issues, notably the wall, foreign trade, Obamacare, and the expulsion of undocumented immigrants.

    I think your claim that most Trump voters were not Trump supporters is complete crap, but I’m certainly prepared to revise that view if you can provide good evidnece for it.

  6. KG says

    Sorry about the link closure failure @5. To be clear, I agree with Jessie Harban’s points about the emptiness of Clinton’s campaign and the need for the Democrats to adopt policies and candidates considerably to her (or Obama’s) left – but that’s primarily to appeal to the huge numbers who didn’t bother to vote at all, secondarily to those who voted for Trump, are indeed bigots, but also have genuine economic grievances. We’ve just seen Labour in the UK deny the Tories an overall majority and greatly increase its vote-share by just such a move – contrary to practically all expectation, including its own, and despite the right-wing press monstering its leader in a way Faux News would be proud of. There was also an interesting mirror-image of the US Presidential campaign in that Theresa May’s core message was simply “I’m not Jeremy Corbyn”, just as Clinton’s was “I’m not Trump”. Clinton and May both achieved a slight plurality over their main rival in the popular vote, but failed in their main objective (although May is clinging to power, relying on the bigots and bampots of the DUP, and the fact that no alternative leader currently wants to grab the poisoned chalice from her – what she wanted and expected was a landslide).

    [I corrected the link-Mano]

  7. polishsalami says

    Media elites on six-figure salaries don’t like they idea that it’s people like them who created Trump.

  8. deepak shetty says

    they hated Trump, but the two party system gave them two intolerable options so they held their noses and picked the lesser evil.

    In which universe did people look at Candidate Trump and Candidate Clinton and conclude that Trump is the lesser of the two evils? Anyone who had spent any time could say that Trump openly stated he was going to damage stuff (Like the environment , healthcare, ban muslims) and in other places it was clear he was lying (I will fix the tax code because I know all the loopholes!). Youll also notice that Trump supporters are still quite happy with the job he is doing – there isn’t much of a fuck , I didnt really think he was going to gut the environment.

    Its like the Southern baptist evangelicals – We totally condemn racism and zenophobia and all things that go against the teachings of Jesus! But we still will vote for Trump! because abortions! or emails! or benghazi! or something!. People can say what they want but their actions are much more revealing.

  9. Timothy says

    Perhaps Trump is reflecting the mean views of many Americans. There is some evidence that Americans are nastier than they say they are:

    https://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/6/13/15768622/facebook-social-media-seth-stephens-davidowitz-everybody-lies

    From an interview of Mr. Davidowitz contained in this article:

    “People tell Google things that they don’t tell to possibly anybody else, things they might not tell to family members, friends, anonymous surveys, doctors. People feel very comfortable confessing things to Google. In general, Google tells us that people are different than they present themselves. One way they’re different, I have to say, is that they’re nastier and meaner than they often present themselves.”

  10. KG says

    So, no exit poll (or other) evidence from Jessie Harban that “most Trump voters aren’t actually Trump supporters”. When you refer to “exit polls” showing something, Jessie, you ought to link to those polls – or at worst, explian why you can’t, and how others can check what you say. Otherwise, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that you are lying, or at best, indulging in wishful thinking.

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