ONTD Political

Blame Trump’s Victory on College-Educated Whites, Not the Working Class

1:49 pm - 11/18/2016
Reporters seeking to understand his voters should head to the suburbs.


The autopsies of Hillary Clinton’s loss in last week’s election keep pouring in, and the cause of death is nearly unanimous: The white, rural, working class voter did it.

Townhall’s Matt Vespa called it “the revenge of the white working class,” Politico the “Revenge of the rural voter.” Clinton, according to CNN contributor and historian Stephanie Coontz, “was simply unable to present herself as a forceful defender of everyone who has been left behind by the march of globalization, professionalization and the emergence of a new just-in-time, winner-take-all economy.” And Cracked’s David Wong, in an article with nearly ten million views, explains why rural voters came out so strongly for Trump: “To those ignored, suffering people, Donald Trump is a brick chucked through the window of the elites. ‘Are you assholes listening now?’”

It’s true that the white working class was instrumental in delivering Trump the White House. In the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Clinton underperformed Barack Obama among white working class voters, and this cost her the electoral college. Had about 100,000 of these voters across the three states voted for her instead of Trump, she would be president–elect now, instead of sitting on a possible two-million vote Pyrrhic popular vote victory.

The failure to engage the white working class has been described as a grave tactical error, and that may well be true, given the slim margin of victory in swing states. But the media’s obsessive focus on this voting bloc would leave you to believe that Trump’s voters largely live in areas hit by the decline in manufacturing, are suffering from economic anxiety, and turned out last Tuesday to voice their disdain for smug urban elitists. But this narrative paints a misleading picture of the typical Trump voter, and by doing so, lets off the hook an entire class of voters who are at least as responsible for Trump’s victory: middle-class and wealthy suburban whites, who also came out in droves for Trump and who make up a larger part of his coalition.

The average Trump voter is not poorly educated or unemployed, nor does he live in a rural area. Back in May, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver punctured the myth of the “working class” being Trump’s voter base: In exit polls of 23 states from the primaries, all showed a higher median income for Trump supporters than the national average, usually around $70,000. Exit polls last week, while not definitive, reveal that both college-educated white men and college educated white women voted for Trump by much higher than expected margins.

While it is true that many rural voters who backed Obama in 2008 and 2012 voted for Trump this year, these voters hardly comprise the majority of Trump’s 60 million votes, as rural voters made up only 17 percent of this year’s electorate. Most rural voters generally vote Republican anyway. Clinton’s decision not to target these voters may seem foolhardy in hindsight, but these voters have not been a key Democratic demographic for many decades. Moreover, as a longtime member of the Washington establishment, Clinton was always going to be a hard sell to these voters in a change election.

The voters Clinton really lost—the ones she was targeting and relying on for victory—were college-educated whites. Most polling suggested she would win these voters, but she didn’t, according to exit polls: White men went 63 percent for Trump versus 31 percent for Clinton, and white women went 53-43 percent. Among college-educated whites, only 39 percent of men and 51 percent of women voted for Clinton.

Clinton’s strategy made sense. Trump’s negatives among this group, which normally leans Republican (Romney won them by six points), were pretty high in polling. What’s more, these people hadn’t suffered under Obama; they’d thrived. The kind of change Trump was espousing wasn’t supposed to connect with this group. A massive Gallup study in August revealed that the typical Trump supporter has “not been disproportionately affected by foreign trade or immigration. The results suggest that his supporters, on average, do not have lower incomes than other Americans, nor are they more likely to be unemployed.”

Perhaps, then, these Trump voters are the most deplorable of them all. They’re not suffering or desperate, and have no concrete reason to hate the status quo or to feel like they are in decline. They understand that Trump is manifestly unprepared to be president, have heard his many lies and insults, yet voted for him anyway. And without them, Trump wouldn’t have won. The media ought to focus on their motivations, too—and reporters won’t even have to fly to Youngstown to find them.

Source: https://newrepublic.com/article/138754/blame-trumps-victory-college-educated-whites-not-working-class
teacoat 19th-Nov-2016 06:54 am (UTC)
Once again, it was no single thing that lost her the election. There's a laundry list of things we could blame and if any combination of them went the other way things would be different right now.

Honestly, the Democrats should be pouring resources into research on how to get people out to vote every 2 years. If Democrats were as dedicated of voters as Republicans are, the entire past 20 years would have been completely different. You can work on your targeted messaging all you want but it will be meaningless if people hear it and just say "Yeah, that's nice, but I'd rather stay in bed on election day."
moonshaz 19th-Nov-2016 07:22 am (UTC)

I agree with all of this.


Incidentally, I'm a college educated white woman who lives in the suburbs of a large city and voted for Hillary. I have a high school dropout sister who lives in a small city in a rural part of the state and voted for Drumpf. Basically, we both fit the stereotypes for those who voted for our respective candidates to a t. Not that it proves anything, but I find it interesting in light of what this article is saying.

mhfromnh 19th-Nov-2016 05:17 pm (UTC)
don't you dare say we aren't as dedicated. I was there thru GOTV, and I saw first-hand how dedicated we are. we lost power at 11am as nearly 1000 volunteers were arriving, which our Republican-led town council knew was going to happen, and still we got every single canvas pack out, every door knocked. we ended up turning our state blue, and we're sending an all-woman, all-Democrat delegation to Congress. we turned out the highest ever voter-turnout, plus the highest Democratic votes and tightest margins, our town has ever seen. all this despite Al Baldasaro parking outside trying to intimidate us, despite Republicans following our canvassers in trucks.
lightframes 19th-Nov-2016 06:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

GOTV weekend was pretty awesome. I think I might have been overconfident because I live in a blue county, though, so of course we got a lot of positive feedback. Next time I might volunteer in a red county somewhere else to see if that makes a difference.

(And I like your icon.)
mhfromnh 19th-Nov-2016 06:52 pm (UTC)
my town is heavily Republican. I was there for the reading of results after the poll closed, and the town went totally red. but our ranks are growing and we will be a force to be reckoned with.
teacoat 19th-Nov-2016 07:18 pm (UTC)
There is no question that we have had some very dedicated volunteers, but there is also no question that the Republican base turns out with a much greater consistency to every election - including midterms and off-year local elections - than the Democratic base does. I don't even see what the point of trying to argue otherwise is. What possible harm could there be in researching how to improve Democratic turnout?
mhfromnh 19th-Nov-2016 07:33 pm (UTC)
pretty much what we have to do is expand our operation beyond just the general election and just the swing states. we need to apply these methods (which seriously do get results, read Victory Lab) to midterms and local elections, and in the red states too.
roseembolism 19th-Nov-2016 07:38 pm (UTC)
Great! Can you do that two years from now in the Senate elections? Honestly, I'm not being sarcastic here.

Edited at 2016-11-19 07:39 pm (UTC)
mhfromnh 19th-Nov-2016 07:59 pm (UTC)
hell, I'm jumping right back in for town council elections in March.
lightframes 19th-Nov-2016 05:46 pm (UTC)
As long as that mobilization includes fighting against voter suppression and felony disenfranchisement. I know this is not what you mean but I'm tired of low Democratic turnout being reduced to "we don't care enough" when it's a mix of several factors, including Republicans actively trying to stop us from voting.
shadwing 19th-Nov-2016 09:02 pm (UTC)
This has ALWAYS been a problem with the Dems, the Republicans are statistically more prone to vote along the party line even if its against their best interests. The Dems? Nope they don't vote in lockstep like the Repubs do, remember the ACA? At first pass where if every Dem voted on it the act would have passed or came darn close? IIRC a handful of Dems voted AGAINST IT because they had problems with it. Fair enough but what they wanted fixed would have doomed the whole thing.

So the Dems are not one unified party, they are like...allot of little parties all working on their own stuff and more often than not are willing to let the party hang and burn (see the draining of Dem votes to 3rd parties this election) then hold their noses or bend a bit to prevent something worse.
amw 19th-Nov-2016 07:10 am (UTC)
This tea.
lethalwings 19th-Nov-2016 09:33 am (UTC)


Seriously, though. I'm inclined to agree with @teacoat - and I think we need to strike while the iron is hot, not continue with the same 'whodunnit' rhetoric until inauguration. I hope people continue to organize and mobilize now while this is still fresh, so that nobody gets complacent or comfortable with the idea that this outcome is normal/acceptable.
mhfromnh 19th-Nov-2016 05:23 pm (UTC)
I'm gonna say this: if you are a Democrat in a heavily Republican town, so am I, and there are more of us than you'd think. get out there, connect with your local Democrats, and give those Republicans hell. knock on every door you can, for every election comes along. don't be afraid to put that sign in your yard. be proud to be a Democrat.
maynardsong 19th-Nov-2016 05:30 pm (UTC)
Yup, this is why I'm not here for all the indulgent (condescending, IMO, and if I were a working class white man, I'd find it MORE insulting than the liberals who call that demographic racist) thinkpieces on how liberals need to ~understand the working class white male rage or whatever. So many Trump voters made bank and WEREN'T working class. Educated suburban white LADIES...ugh what the fuck? I knew white women are racist but I thought their self-preservation instinct would win out over their racism. No amount of race or class privilege spares you guys from misogyny, all you Beckies out there! And Hillary herself was a white lady. How did you not see her representing YOU? One of my white friends expressed this sentiment - Hillary represented HER as a woke white lady.
roseembolism 19th-Nov-2016 07:47 pm (UTC)
There's a certain attitude I've seen from some SWLs that women, LGBTQ and PoC who complain about mistreatment are just complainers. THEY work hard, but don't complain and work fine in the system.They have little empathy for people in different situations.

They're going to be really surprised when the Republicans take their reproductive freedoms away.
moonshaz 19th-Nov-2016 07:50 pm (UTC)
I'm with your white friend, and I'm mystified as to why more white women didn't see things the way you are describing.

Also, the more I've learned about how many white folks of varying education and income levels voted for the orange THING, the more mortified I have become. I don't know wtf is wrong with white people, but something is definitely very wrong.
(no subject) - Anonymous
headcaseheidi 21st-Nov-2016 02:18 am (UTC)
perfect comment
halfshellvenus 30th-Nov-2016 09:21 pm (UTC)
I think a lot of us just didn't believe that other white women COULD vote for Trump, other than rural, evangelicals, elderly, or the deluded. Apparently, the DGAF quotient was huge. :(

WTF is wrong with those people?
ineverycolor 20th-Nov-2016 03:23 am (UTC)

I'm really getting tired of people dissecting why she lost the election when there's just as much evidence to foul play such as the statistical anomalies to the voter results in these swing states, the hacking that happened to so many us websites the week before the election etc.

chukachukachoo 20th-Nov-2016 06:28 am (UTC)
I'm trying so hard not to get into anything that looks like a conspiracy theory... but yeah, HRC is about to get 2 million more votes than him and he just happened to get the few thousand in all the states he needed to win? this whole election has been fishy to me though.
shadwing 20th-Nov-2016 07:00 pm (UTC)
At least in MI, there were something like 100K ballots where the caster left the president portion BLANK. In a state where Hillary lost by something like a few 1000 votes.

conuly 21st-Nov-2016 03:42 am (UTC)
Not just statistical anomalies in swing states, we know that every state that flipped in this election was subject to a concentrated voter suppression effort by the GOP.
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