By Sadie Robinson
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Who voted for Donald Trump?

This article is over 7 years, 6 months old
Issue 2530
Donald Trump waves to his supporters during his election campaign
Donald Trump waves to his supporters during his election campaign (Pic: Darron Birgenheier/Flickr)

Who voted for Donald Trump to be the next US president? Exit polls suggest that Trump won backing from most groups of white voters, especially those without a college education.

Some conclude that white, working class voters are racist and were won over by Trump’s whipping up of hatred against Mexicans and Muslims.

Of course Trump did run a disgustingly racist campaign. But he got significant numbers of votes from Latinos and others too.

And voting patterns show it’s too simplistic to see this as simply a racist vote.

In several states where voters elected Barack Obama, the first black president of the US, in 2008 and 2012 Trump won this time around.

As the New York Times (NYT) put it, “Industrial towns once full of union voters who for decades offered their votes to Democratic presidential candidates shifted to Trump.”

There is deep anger about stagnant or falling wages, lack of secure jobs and soaring inequality. Because of Clinton’s pro-business policies, some of it was seized by Trump, even though he has no answers for working class people.

In Trumbull, Ohio, where Trump won by six points. Voters there backed Obama by 22 points in 2012.

In Iowa Obama won easily in 2012. This time Trump won easily.

In the electorally important industrial states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Clinton’s vote was down 13 percentage points, 10 points and 9 points, respectively compared to Obama in 2012.

The NYT wrote, “Obama was strong among white working class Northerners.” This doesn’t suggest that these voters can simply be dismissed as racist. It indicates that Clinton’s campaign failed to win their support.

Fewer than a quarter of white men without a college degree backed Clinton, whereas Obama had won a third of their votes.

Nearly 100 percent of black voters aged between 35 and 54 had backed Obama. Just 80 percent voted for Clinton.

In Detroit a city whose population is 83 percent black, Clinton received 48,000 fewer votes than Obama in 2012.

And Obama won 70 percent of the Latino vote, compared to Clinton’s 66 percent.

In contrast, polls suggested that Trump won roughly the same share of Latino voters as Republican candidate Mitt Romney did in 2012.

It showed that a third of Latino men voted for Trump, and 26 percent of Latino women.

Donald Trump ran a vile racist, sexist campaign. But was his victory simply down to racism?
Donald Trump ran a vile racist campaign. But was his victory simply down to racism? (Pic: Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons)


White men were most likely to back Trump—63 percent to Clinton’s 31 percent. White women were also more likely to vote for Trump, with 52 percent saying they backed him.

Edison Research’s national election poll, sampling 24,537 voters, found that the only white group to back Clinton was college-educated women.

Trump’s campaign wasn’t simply about racism and immigration. He hypocritically positioned himself as an “outsider” standing up for ordinary people against an out of touch elite.

Billionaire Trump claimed such people would no longer be “forgotten”. He pledged to create jobs, provide affordable health care and improve housing. Meanwhile Clinton, was a clear establishment candidate.

The Edison poll found that the poorest people (many of them black of Latino) were still more likely to vote Democrat, while Republican votes rose with income.

Some 52 percent of people earning under $50,000 dollars voted Democrat and 41 percent voted Republican.

Those earning more than $50,000 backed Trump by 49 percent and Clinton by 47 percent.

When asked if the next generation of Americans would have a better life than those today, some 59 percent of Democrat voters said yes. Yet 63 percent of Republican voters said no.

Ordinary people have suffered eight years of cuts and attacks under an Obama Democrat government. They have watched promises that their lives would get better being broken.

Obama’s supporters made great claims for his healthcare reform.

But a fortnight before the election it was revealed that Obamacare health premiums were set to rise by an average of 25 percent in 2017. This factor may have shifted a crucial number of voters.

Trump has managed to pull some of the anger in US society behind his right wing campaign. It is a serious worry that someone who has been overtly racist and sexist can win such a high vote.

The result doesn’t show a huge shift to the Republicans. Republican candidate Mitt Romney won 47.2 percent of the popular vote in 2012.

Trump had taken 47.5 percent by Wednesday evening—and Clinton looks likely to have won a small majority of the overall vote.

We should always remember that nearly half of eligible voters did not vote at all.

The NYT argued that Trump’s victory was “a powerful rejection of the establishment”. It’s clear that many people are sick of a system that fails them.

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