The Sunday Magazine

Trump voters aren't who you think they are - Michael's essay

The party faithful knew, or thought they knew, who Trump was and what he stood for on any given day. But who the hell were his supporters? Who were these people who were voting for him in such weighty numbers?
Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to supporters at a campaign rally, May 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Republican billionaire Michael Vlock of Connecticut won't be voting for Donald Trump this Nov. 8th.

Why not? 

"He's an ignorant, amoral, dishonest, manipulative, misogynistic, philandering, hyper-litigious, isolationist, protectionist blowhard."

Less than a year ago, Donald Trump was one of a parade of 17 oddly assorted Republicans who wanted desperately to be the presidential nominee of their party.

One by one, in a series of bruising, belittling primaries and caucuses, they all fell down, one by miserable one, like tin ducks in a shooting gallery.

And like the police captain in Casablanca, we in the media were all shocked, shocked to see what was going on.

Paid up members of the commentariat were caught flat footed wrong by pretentiously predicting the bloviating billionaire would be gone by Christmas.

Instead, pundits, politicians, and prognosticators, found themselves confronted by the horrific fact that 49 per cent of Republicans wanted Trump to be the guy. Nearly 14-million voters.

In fact, compared to most American workers, the Trump people were better off.- Michael Enright

How could they, the losers cried, when the refrain should have been, how could we?

The party faithful knew or thought they knew who Trump was and what he stood for on any given day, but who the hell were his supporters? Who were these people who were voting for him in such weighty numbers?

Like codebreakers during World War Two, party elites and political writers began to pore over data trying to find out what they could about these mysterious Trump supporters.

A bagpipe player wears traditional dress next to Presumptive Republican nominee for US president Donald Trump as he arrives to his Trump Turnberry Resort on June 24, 2016 in Ayr, Scotland. Mr Trump arrived to officially open his golf resort which has undergone an eight month refurbishment as part of an investment thought to be worth in the region of two hundred million pounds. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

This weekend, as Trump re-opened his Scottish golf course, they are being compared to the Little Englanders who voted to take the UK out of the European Union.

A number of early narratives emerged about the character and inclinations of Trump supporters. For example, Trump voters were poorly informed. They were badly educated.

They were poor according to initial reports, Trump was winning more than 50 per cent of voters making less than $58,000 a year.

They had a number of things in common. They blamed immigrants for the state of the economy. They hated the federal government in general and the Obama administration in particular. They believed that as ordinary Americans they had no say in how they were being governed.

In short, this was a working class rebellion in the making and Donald Trump was its tribune.

Supporters of the presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attend a campaign rally on May 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

But then the narrative began to change. Thanks to the heavy lifting of data guru Nate Silver in the New York Times, more and more was being learned about the Trump faithful.

For one thing, they aren't all that poor. Only 12 per cent of Trump voters earned less than $30,000 a year.

In fact, compared to most American workers, the Trump people were better off.

Median household income for a Trump voter is $72,000 a year -- well above the national figure of $56,000 a year.

The suggestion that they were essentially dumber than the average Republican was another myth. Trump supporters are only 9 percentage points less educated.

In other major ways, they differ from non-Trump Republicans. For example, 83 per cent say immigrants are a major burden on the US compared to 61 per cent of non-Trump Republicans.

More than 93 per cent of Trump supporters say blacks in the underclass are to blame for their predicament, compared to 86 per cent of non-Trump Republicans.

They are more pro business, more likely to display the American flag, more apt to think government should promote traditional values and are more likely to be gun owners.

The current iteration of the Trump Republican Party has attracted its fair share of racists, anti-semites, birthers and rabid nationalists.

They may not represent all that Trump stands for, but they are a measure of the anger, divisiveness and general meanness hanging over this political year.

None of it bodes well for the coming campaign. 

Click the button above to hear Michael's essay. 


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