Trump Supporters Are Not Who You Think

Many would think that the typical Trump supporter is someone who has lost out to free trade, is poor and white. It turns out not all of this is true.

I stumbled across a fascinating recent study by Gallup of 100,000 Americans on this subject. The punchline is that Trump supporters share the following traits (in order of predictive power):

  1. Male
  2. Religion is important to them
  3. White
  4. Blue-collar worker (production, construction, transport)
  5. Veteran or has family member who is a veteran
  6. Business owner
  7. Educated only up to high school level
  8. Older
  9. Lower life expectancy/disability
  10. Lives far from Mexican border

Americans least likely to vote for Trump share these traits:

  1. Hispanic or black
  2. Muslim, atheist, Jewish, Mormon
  3. Educated to university level
  4. Gay, lesbian or trans-sexual
  5. White-collar worker
  6. Younger
  7. Active in civic work
  8. Lives in area where manufacturing is largest sector

So contrary to expectations, Trump supporters do not live in areas that have dominant manufacturing sectors, where manufacturing has declined or have been affected by trade competition. Despite all the focus on the Mexican border, Trump support goes up the further AWAY from the border  the person lives. In fact, Trump support increases in racially isolated areas.

On the economic front, the picture is more complex. There is no evidence that Trump supports are less affluent than others, if anything they are more affluent. While it is true that blue-collar workers lean towards Trump, so do business owners. There is some evidence that those with greater reliance on government support and are indebted are more likely to support Trump. Those that have experienced low social or intergenerational mobility (ie children moving to a higher social/economic class than their parents) are also typically Trump supporters.

The picture then is more murky than one would think. It is true that older white blue-collar males are more likely to support Trump. But equally Trump support is not coming from those that live in manufacturing districts, are poor or live close to Mexico. Fascinating. I wonder if pollsters have captured this segment.

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