Trump’s Base: Broadly Speaking, Who Are They?

Posted in: Politics

Editor’s Note:  This two-part series has been expanded to three-parts.

As noted in my prior column much has been made of then-candidate and now-President Donald Trump’s core supporters—his so-called base. When referring to Trump’s base, reference is to more than merely those who voted for Trump, but those who appear to support him through thick and thin, i.e., those who, in his words, would still vote for him even if he shot someone on 5th Avenue.

As best I can determine from the available material, and noted in the prior column, the Trump base has shrunk down to about 24 percent of those who voted for him or have spoken approvingly of him to pollsters. As professional Republican pollster Kristen Anderson reported: “It is around one in four [of people polled] who like his tweeting, like the insults,” which seems something of an index to Trump’s mind and actions. This core group appears to be the base on which Trump’s approval ratings are based, as well, and those numbers have been historically low from the outset of his presidency, and they have been trending downward. According to the Gallup weekly polls, Trump’s job approval started at around 45 percent, but during his first year in office, it was mostly below 40 percent. As a poll-watcher, I also noticed the most recent Washington Post-ABC News polls show that only 11 percent of all Americans think his tweeting is helpful, with only 21 percent of Republicans approve of his tweeting (more evidence of his shrinking base).

Trump’s base obviously resides within the collection of voters who supported him at the polls in November 2016. According to a Boston Globe (Nov. 9, 2016) exit poll demographics of the 2016 presidential vote reveal the following (which I have abbreviated for this column):

Voter Breakdown Clinton Trump
Men 48% 41% 53%
Women 52% 54% 42%
White 70 37 58
Black 12 88 8
Hispanic 11 65 29
Asian 4 65 29
Other 3 57 37
18–29 19 54 37
30–44 25 50 42
45–64 40 44 53
65+ 16 45 52
Annual Income
< $50,000 36 52 41
> $50,000 64 47 49
Education by Race
White/College Grad 37 45 49
White/Not College Grad 34 28 67
Nonwhite/College Grad 13 71 23
Nonwhite/Not College Grad 16 75 20
Most Important Issues
Economy 52 52 42
Foreign Policy 13 60 34
Immigration 13 33 64
Terrorism 18 39 57
Democrat 37 89 9
Republican 33 7 90
Independent 31 42 48

Before the 2016 general election, much of the polling of potential Trump voters focused on low-earning and little-educated, white, working-class men, suggesting they were his core supporters. But that early polling has proved less than accurate based on the information in the general election exit polling. For example, when the exit poll numbers are further broken down, they show that voters with income over $50,000 (also reported as $50 to $100,000) with Trump winning this bracket 50 percent to Clinton’s 46 percent and he also won the over $100,000 bracket 48 percent to Clinton’s 47 percent. While only 27 percent of the 2016 voters considered their financial situation worse on Election Day 2016 than 2012, Trump overwhelming carried those voters’ 78 percent to Clinton’s 19 percent. In short, it does not appear that financial distress, fear of the future, or immigrants taking their jobs is a common factor uniting Trump’s base.

I am not going to explain all the interesting facts that can be gleaned from my chart. I am not a chart spoiler. But it should be noted the 2016 exit poll demographics do suggest that given his 12-point margin over Clinton with men, his base is predominately male. (This may explain his current refusal to show any empathy whatsoever with the women abused by his White House staff—not to mention his disparaging over a dozen women who have accused him sexual improprieties.) News people have been interviewing Trump voters all over the country, and most prominently in West Virginia and Ohio, more specifically areas that had previously voted for Obama that voted overwhelmingly for Trump. While these group sessions are interesting, I find they tell us little about Trump’s base.Fortunately, however, academics have now had the 2016 election data for over a year, and their studies can tell us not just who within the demographic set forth in the chart above are Trump’s base, but WHY they are Trumpian to the end. With these prior article as a preface, I can turn to the findings of these studies, which can now be better understood. (Indeed, I am waiting for one of the major studies to come hot off the press to bring my overview of Trump base to a close, by explaining why people support this most untraditional, norm shattering, president.)

Posted in: Politics

Tags: Politics

22 responses to “Trump’s Base: Broadly Speaking, Who Are They?”

  1. Citizen Patriot says:

    Your graph left out the illegal votes. No doubt they all went to crooked Hillary.

  2. Brett says:

    What, exactly, is the purpose of this article? Also, as for the claim that men support President Trump and that explains his alleged empathy regarding allegations of sexual abuse, the fact that Ms. Clinton vilified known victims of her husband’s sexual exploits shatters that claim.

    • Raven says:

      Define “known victims”. ● Monica Lewinsky? Said herself that she initiated a consensual relationship, and felt betrayed by Linda Tripp’s exposing it. ● Gennifer Flowers? Likewise claimed a consensual relationship, though in her case she publicly exposed it herself (neatly timed during WJC’s first campaign for President). ● Kathleen Willey? Caught giving false testimony to the FBI, and discrepant testimony between the Paula Jones case and the grand jury hearing “on material aspects of the alleged incident”, according to the Independent Counsel, which is why WJC wasn’t prosecuted on her accusation. ● Juanita Broaddrick? WaPo 2/20/99 explains that: “When Jones’s attorneys first subpoenaed her in their sexual harassment lawsuit against the president, Broaddrick swore out an affidavit and testified in a deposition that Clinton did not make unwelcome sexual advances toward her in the late 1970s. … Starr investigated briefly but dropped it…. And the House managers secretly contacted her to say they might summon her as a witness, yet quickly decided that her allegations were not relevant…. ‘From my standpoint, I think it was appropriate behavior on our part,’ [Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.)] said. They never pressed to include the Broaddrick allegation in the [impeachment] trial, he added, because ‘it would have been wrong to throw out something pejorative to the president and not probative….’” ● Paula Jones? Ahhh….

      In 2002, former conservative journalist David Brock published Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, which mentions the Arkansas Project, a secret project to discredit Bill Clinton, bankrolled by right-wing billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. While working for The American Spectator after the 1992 election, Brock was assigned to write a story, later dubbed Troopergate, about four Arkansas state troopers who held a grudge against Bill Clinton. In the book he claims that the troopers made up stories about affairs that could never be corroborated. Brock was given assurances that the troopers would not get paid for telling their stories. (He later discovered he was deceived and that the troopers had been paid by Scaife.) Brock made sure to conceal the identities of the women identified by the troopers, with the exception of one woman named “Paula”. That one name, it turned out, was enough to lead to Paula Jones’s civil lawsuit against Bill Clinton. … So deceit, made-up stories, and Scaife’s funding were what backed the accusations of “affairs”; a determined defamation factory.

    • Zippy1947 says:

      Reports that Hillary Clinton vilified the women victimized by her husband’s exploits have been wildly exaggerated by media. However, like like most women that discover their husbands have been unfaithful, she didn’t rally behind the women and praise them for having the courage to tell their truth.

      • Raven says:

        I’ve upvoted that comment for its first sentence and both links… although I disagree with its second sentence’s “courage to tell the truth”: as I discussed upthread (re ‘known victims’) Lewinsky and Flowers claimed not to have been “victimized” at all, while Willey and Broaddrick were both caught in multiple self-contradictions, and Jones’s story was dragged up by the four state troopers’ stories — which were made up in exchange for money from Richard Mellon Scaife — so how much else was falsified for money to gratify political malice, rather than told out of “courage”?

        In more recent political scandals, see for instance: The Social Media Psy-op That Took Down Al Franken (“White nationalist provocateurs, a pair of fake news sites, and an army of Twitter bots and other cyber tricks…. By November 17, the trending of “Al Franken” was officially also a Russia Intelligence operation….”) (And by the way, just to proactively address our RW trolls’ inevitable whataboutism: “… since the 2016 election, arguably lost due to the right’s superior utilization of darker online strategies, the left is not known to have created or mobilized its own fake cyber army to amplify its viewpoint.”)

  3. NYCView says:

    John Dean, former counsel to the president and convicted fellon. The question ge rhetorically asks, Who is Trump’s base, might well be answered by drawing onJames Carville’s statement: ITS AMERICA FIRST, STUPID. The President’s base consists of millions of American citizens of all genders, and socio-economic and education levels who reject the denigration of our nation’s security, welfare, economy, health, safety and sovereignty being pressed by the greatest scam of our times, known as “progressivism.” Mr. Trump’s base stands for putting the interests of American citizens above the interests of illegal aliens who flaunt our nation’s laws on the backs of the very Americans our elected leaders — including democrats –are duty-bound to serve. Mr. Trump’s base are the millions of American citizens who believe that the benefits of U.S. citizebship are a privilege, not an entitlement. Mr. Trump’s base are the millions of Americans who believe that we, as a candidate vilized coubtry, are a nation founded upon, and existing by virtue of, its laws. And, Mr. Trump’s are the millions of American citizens who put issues critical the welfare of the Unites States above bigus smoke and mirror, and worse, “PC” talk.

    • Raven says:

      You say “flaunt our nation’s laws” as though that were worse than “flout our nation’s laws” — which is what Mr. Trump and his associates have been doing, e.g.:
      • the Emoluments Clause (in Article I, Section 9, Clause 8, anti-foreign-bribery), which Donald Trump has been flouting daily since his Inauguration;
      • the Freedom of Religion Clause (in the First Amendment), which Trump’s proposed, then several-times-attempted, “Muslim ban” blatantly flouted, and was smacked down for that very reason;
      • the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort both flouted, “retroactively” registering to reflect the fact that they’d been working as foreign agents while not registered as such;….

      And you say “the denigration of our nation’s security, welfare, economy, health, safety and sovereignty” — but it is Mr. Trump and his supporters who have been attacking and denigrating our nation’s security/intelligence services, precisely because these have accurately reported Russia’s attacks on our election systems, and Mr. Trump hates any shadow on his authority; to the contrary, Mr. Trump refuses to enforce the sanctions already enacted against Putin’s Russia to penalize those attacks (so much for security or sovereignty!);
      • economy? a #TaxScam bill that gives permanent tax cuts to the rich and major corporations but only temporary tax cuts to anyone else; and after all Mr. Trump’s thumping on the Dow stats, we’ve seen the biggest single-day drop in the Dow ever, his own chosen metric;
      • welfare and health? slashing away healthcare coverage;
      • safety? ask the students in Parkland FL, or the 18 other schools shot up so far this year, thanks in part to Mr. Trump’s signing that law that entitled mentally ill people to buy AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. (Yeah, tell me “It’s not about guns!” They couldn’t have done that much harm with knives.)

  4. I’m reading a book by David Goodhart – “The Road to Somewhere – The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics.” While the book mostly focuses on England, he states that he believes that his research also indicates that problems he’s exploring re: Great Britain, have parallels in these United States. Based on being a grassroots political activist for the better part of twenty years, I’m inclined to agree that my anecdotal observations seem to be similar to his scholarly observations. I’m wondering if Mr. Dean has heard of the book / research and has any thoughts.

  5. getting over statins says:

    we won ! and still winning ..

  6. Yes, I often wonder what happened to the Nixon crew. Haldeman, Erlichman, Mitchell and Dean. There was a song about this former counsel to the president in 1973. Not sure this article was an argument, more opinion and speculation. I also often wonder about all those polls that said Hillary was a shoe-in. Gallup and Wa-Po polls seemed to be missing something in 2016. Lies, damn lies and Statistics. With the right p values and samples, one can prove just about anything. I’m not one of the ‘die-hard’ Trumpers, but am both skeptical and cynical about polling charts. The polls were proven wrong during the last election. Be wary, further links and analysis might (yes, I’m speculating) be necessary to convince me of this theory.

    Trump’s base and who are they? ‘They’ are very elusive, not unlike the Donald. Other polls say his popularity is on the rise. We shall see.

  7. shanen says:

    Interesting and thought provoking article, but I think you should describe them as the “deep base” of Trump’s support. They really do exist, in contrast to the mythical deep state that Bannon dreamed up. So far I don’t feel like this data is really getting to the heart of their fanaticism.

    Another significant question to me is what could change their mind. At this point I think that cognitive dissonance is kicking in and many of them are now locked into the cycle of resisting reality because it proves how wrong they were, creating yet more cognitive dissonance that can only be evaded with a more vigorous rejection of reality.

    Oh yeah. About those fresh trolls in these comments. I wish that Justia and Disqus used EPR (Earned Public Reputation) to let them render themselves invisible. I simply don’t have time to waste with the herds of sock puppets. The less time I have left, the more important to spend that time well. Even the click to block the troll is more time than it’s worth. (More details about such suggestions available upon polite request.)