Donald Trump really did it. He will be the Republican candidate for president of the United States. Eleven million people have voted for him thus far in primary elections. Many more will do so on Nov. 8, 2016 when people cast their ballots in the general election. Is it only elderly, poor, uneducated, angry white people who vote for “The Donald?” The latest surveys are full of surprises.
Who are these people who ensured that a real estate mogul with little control over his impulses, a racist and sexist, a candidate with no political experience is now in a position to become president? Who are these Trump voters?
Male, old, poor, uneducated and angry. And white. That’s the answer that has been making the rounds for several months now. It’s mainly the answer that most of those who regard the Trump phenomenon with incomprehension and disgust find most practical because it matches the prejudices that many of them, Europeans included, have against white working-class Americans. And it would be a good insurance policy against a Trump presidency because demographically there aren’t enough old, white men to defeat Hillary Clinton.
But are these descriptions really accurate? More and more studies and polls focus on Trump and his supporters in statistics-obsessed America. Here is what they concluded:
Are Trump Voters Predominantly Male?
Trump has an enormous problem with women. They mainly don’t like him. According to a recent survey, 70 percent of women have a negative image of Trump compared to only 23 percent who see him positively. Practically all similar surveys come to the same conclusion.
But his followers aren’t all males. A CNN survey found that only 50 percent of male Republicans supported him in the primaries as opposed to 44 percent of females. Exit polls later produced similar results.
Are They White?
In a word, yes. Overwhelmingly. Hardly any blacks voted at all in the Republican primaries. Even in Mississippi, the state with the highest percentage of black voters — 37.3 percent of the overall population — only 6 percent of those who cast ballots were black.
Are They Elderly?
Republican voters as well as party members are older, when compared to Democrats. And they continue getting older. That goes for Donald Trump supporters as well, and in ever increasing numbers. Looking only at Republican voters, most of those over 45 years of age are Trump fans.
Are They Poorly Educated?
Nate Silver, America’s best known statistics expert, examined exit poll results and found that 44 percent of Trump supporters had earned a bachelor’s degree whereas only 29 percent of the general population had done so, and a third of all whites.
One should note, however, that Republican voters do not represent a cross-section of American society. They include far fewer minority members than do Democratic or non-voters and it is precisely minorities like Hispanics and African-Americans who must still battle against disadvantages in the U.S. education system.
Trump Voters Have Above-Average Incomes.
If just Republican voters are compared with one another, Trump supporters don’t do so well. Fifty percent of recent dropout Ted Cruz’s fans had a college degree, as did 64 percent of John Kasich supporters. Trump’s supporters, then, are better educated than the average American but more poorly educated than the average Republican.
The following relationship is also interesting: Among voters older than 25, each one percent increase in college graduates represents a 0.65 percent decrease in votes for Trump. That means that the probability a voter will choose Trump rises disproportionately, the lower his or her education level.
Are They Poor?
Nate Silver also put together some interesting numbers concerning the financial status of Trump’s followers: They have an average annual income above $72,000 – significantly above the national average of $56,000. Followers of Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders average somewhat higher than the national average at about $61,000.
Republican voters on average are significantly wealthier than their Democratic counterparts. In addition, wealthy citizens tend to vote more regularly than the less wealthy. Americans earning less than $30,000 annually – low earners – are more likely to vote for Clinton or Sanders than for a Republican candidate.
Looking exclusively at the Republicans, it’s clear that Trump’s supporters are to be found among the less wealthy. John Kasich’s supporters rank highest in this category with $91,000 annually, well above the highest upper middle class national average.
Are They Angry?
Trump supporters, as shown by the data, are in a better position than the average American when it comes to income and education. In spite of that, they still see themselves as misunderstood and marginalized.
So the Rand Corporation asked American voters whether or not they agreed with this statement: “People like me have no influence on what the government is doing.”
The result is overpoweringly clear. The probability that those agreeing with the statement also supported Trump was 86.5 percent higher than with any other candidate.
The perception of helplessness is accordingly a better indicator of whether someone is a Trump supporter than factors such as age, race, education, income or their personal feelings about Muslims or immigrants.
And the feeling of being helpless gives rise to anger and rejection.
There are strong indications in the data showing that Trump supporters are significantly more intolerant and racist than voters supporting other candidates. According to a New York Times online survey, every fifth Trump supporter was not certain whether it was a mistake to free the slaves after the Civil War (the survey was later criticized for its methodology).
And What of the Angry Poor and Poorly Educated Old White Male Trump Voter?
He still exists, but there’s a lot more to it. Trump has broad support among the Republican electorate. The typical Trump voter is more likely to be middle class than working class with an above average income and an above average education. And they tend to be white. In brief, they belong to America’s privileged class. They have it a lot better than millions of other people. And still they are angry. Despite that, they are afraid things will get a lot worse.
Pessimism is the cement that holds Trump supporters together. Hardly any of them still believes in the American Dream. “Late-stage capitalism is creating a righteous, revolutionary anger,” wrote publicist Andrew Sullivan.
The figures show that it’s not the losers Trump is attracting to his following, but rather those who are afraid they will soon become losers.
And their number is potentially infinite.