The Mythology Of Trump's 'Working Class' Support
His voters are better off economically compared with most Americans.
Publisher: Five Thirty Eight
Date Written: 03/05/2016
Year Published: 2016
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20126
It's been extremely common for news accounts to portray Donald Trump's candidacy as a "working-class" rebellion against Republican elites. Narratives like these risk obscuring an important fact about Trump's voters: As compared with most Americans, Trump's voters are better off.
The median income for Clinton and Sanders voters - 61,000USD for each candidate - is generally much closer to the overall median income in each state. But even Democratic turnout tends to skew slightly toward a wealthier electorate, somewhat validating Sanders's claim that "poor people dont vote." I estimate that 27 percent of American households had incomes under 30,000USD last year. By comparison, 20 percent of Clinton voters did, as did 18 percent of Sanders supporters. (Those figures imply Clinton might have a bigger edge on Sanders if more poor people voted, although it would depend on whether they were black, white or Hispanic.) Both Democratic candidates do better than the Republicans in this category, however. Only 12 percent of Trump voters have incomes below 30,000USD; when you also consider that Clinton has more votes than Trump overall, that means about twice as many low-income voters have cast a ballot for Clinton than for Trump so far this year.
This is not to say that Trump voters are happy about the condition of the economy. Substantial majorities of Republicans in every state so far have said they're "very worried" about the condition of the U.S. economy, according to exit polls, and these voters have been more likely to vote for Trump. 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.