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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Silver: Trump’s Working-Class Support Overstated

Nate Silver offers some interesting data and analysis of Donald Trump’ “base” in his latest post, “The Mythology Of Trump’s ‘Working Class’ Support: His voters are better off economically compared with most Americans,” at FiveThirtyEight.com. An excerpt:

…The definition of “working class” and similar terms is fuzzy, and narratives like these risk obscuring an important and perhaps counterintuitive fact about Trump’s voters: As compared with most Americans, Trump’s voters are better off. The median household income of a Trump voter so far in the primaries is about $72,000, based on estimates derived from exit polls and Census Bureau data. That’s lower than the $91,000 median for Kasich voters. But it’s well above the national median household income of about $56,000. It’s also higher than the median income for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters, which is around $61,000 for both.

Silver explains his methodology, which draws on exit polls, and adds that “Trump voters’ median income exceeded the overall statewide median in all 23 states, sometimes narrowly (as in New Hampshire or Missouri) but sometimes substantially. In Florida, for instance, the median household income for Trump voters was about $70,000, compared with $48,000 for the state as a whole.” Further, says Silver,

…There’s no sign of a particularly heavy turnout among “working-class” or lower-income Republicans. On average in states where exit polls were conducted both this year and in the Republican campaign four years ago, 29 percent of GOP voters have had household incomes below $50,000 this year, compared with 31 percent in 2012.

When you factor in race, to focus on white working-class voters, says Silver, “The median household income for non-Hispanic whites is about $62,000, still a fair bit lower than the $72,000 median for Trump voters.” In addition, “although about 44 percent of Trump supporters have college degrees, according to exit polls — lower than the 50 percent for Cruz supporters or 64 percent for Kasich supporters — that’s still higher than the 33 percent of non-Hispanic white adults, or the 29 percent of American adults overall, who have at least a bachelor’s degree.”
Trump voters do display a hgh level of discontent about the economy, concludes Silver. “But that anxiety doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal economic circumstances, which for many Trump voters, at least in a relative sense, are reasonably good.”
Clearly, plenty of white working-class voters are still quite leery of Trump, though many agree with his views on trade. There is a solid argument that Democrats can get a larger share of this demographic group with well-targeted policies and outreach.

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