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Data Show Most Trump Voters Were Middle Income, Not ‘Working Class’

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Data Show Most Trump Voters Were Middle Income, Not ‘Working Class’

Trump voters

In the months since Donald Trump’s stunning presidential victory, media outlets have obsessed over his voters—who they are and what their motivations might have been. Many have credited his win to “working-class whites,” a segment of society that has been laid low by opioid addiction and income inequality, in part because it made a compelling narrative.

The data tell a different story. According to an analysis by the Washington Post, Trump’s voting bloc was primarily comprised of middle- and upper-income Americans. An NBC poll of Trump voters from March 2016 showed that only one-third of his supporters had incomes lower than $50,000, while the other two-thirds made more than $50,000.

A similar trend arose in the general election as well. According to the American National Election Study, 35 percent of people who said they voted for Trump had household incomes under $50,000. The other two-thirds of Trump voters “came from the better-off half of the economy.”

According to a new report, despite what Ivanka Trump says, her father's administration isn't doing much for families of people who voted for him. A report from the Center for American Progress says that in swing counties won by Trump in the 2016 election, a family of four with two young children would only take in an additional $5.55 a year under Trump's tax plan if they spend an average of $6,037 per year on child care. The reason for this is that Trump's child care proposal is nothing more than a tax credit based on an assumption that families can afford to pay the full cost out of pocket.

Another component of the “working-class whites” narrative was the lack of a college education among most Trump voters, as 69 percent of his supporters in the general election did not have a college degree. But polling data from NBC also showed that about 70 percent of Republicans had not graduated from a college or university, so that number was not an aberration.

It is also the case that the lack of a college degree is not intrinsically tied to a person’s income—less education does not necessarily equate to being a member of the poor or working class. Only 25 percent of Trump voters were white people without college degrees making below the $50,000 median income. In fact, nearly 60 percent of white Trump voters without college degrees were making over $50,000, placing them in the “top-half of income distribution.” Data also show that one in five Trump voters actually made over $100,000 in household income, again exposing gaping holes in the narrative that the white working-class is mostly responsible for Trump’s win.

Celisa Calacal is a junior writing fellow for AlterNet. She is a senior journalism major and legal studies minor at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. Previously she worked at ThinkProgress and served as an editor for Ithaca College’s student newspaper. Follow her at @celisa_mia.

IMAGE: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears at a campaign rally in Miami, Florida, September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar



  1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth June 6, 2017

    The ability to discern right from wrong, to tell the difference between a raving abnormal narcissist and a normal well-adjusted human being, is not dependent on money earned or class. Nor dependent on formal education.

    What was, and is, sorely lacking is a moral compass, a wisdom honed by a mature experience with lots of exposure to diverse elements of the human family, and the ability to understand what empathy and altruism means on a heartfelt level and how to show it in a spontaneous and natural way—NOT just on an intellectual level.

    Regrettably, so many who profess to be Christian, and were therefore easily seduced by the Trump bluster and his crude personality, lack these qualities and are incapable of making wise and sane decisions—decisions foremost motivated by lofty sentiments and having a focus on their spiritual nature rather than an inordinate preoccupation with their materialist nature.

    A human being is distinguished from members of the animal and vegetable kingdoms by virtue of possessing a spiritual aspect capable of feeling and perceiving spiritual qualities and articulating such. But Trump and his supporters, among others like Putin, etc., are no longer aware of their loftier nature, and have chosen instead to confine themselves to nursing their dark/materialist nature.

    “O My Friend in Word! Ponder a while. Hast thou ever heard that friend and foe should abide in one heart? Cast out then the stranger, that the Friend may enter His home.” (From ‘The Hidden Words’)

    1. Sherrybroberts June 6, 2017

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  2. rednekokie June 6, 2017

    Even so, tRumpelthinskin actually lost the election by nearly 3 million votes, being selected to sit in the oval office by an outdated electoral college, dating from the days way before slavery was abolished, and put into law in order to increase the voting power of slave holders.
    For all it’s high and mightier than thou rhetoric in the US, our elections are primitive, unfair, and costly to the welfare of the general public.
    When (or if) we ever manage to overturn these archaic laws, we will begin to climb back into legality, as far as government goes.

    1. Just A Citizen June 6, 2017


      Trump won the election by the rules in place when he ran. Clinton LOST.

      Why is the EC outdated? It has functioned essentially as it was perceived. Despite using a general election to allocate EC seats, it works to assure elections are not dominated by a couple high population areas. Which is where you have to admit that without the California vote Trump probably wins the popular vote as well.

      Now since you apparently failed American History, the EC has NOTHING to do with slavery. And it most certainly did not give increased power to the slave states. You are thinking about the census allocation of 3/5 of each slave counting as one person for purpose of allocating House seats and thus EC delegates.. And this provision was included to WEAKEN the slave states power, not increase it.

      You whine about the cost of our elections. Would you make them FREE? If so how, or even how would you reduce the cost. I know, maybe we should have to pay for our ballot to cover the cost.

      1. rednekokie June 6, 2017

        I did not “whine” about the monetary cost of our elections.
        Perhaps you need a course in remedial reading.
        My remarks about election “cost” was concerning the cost to the welfare of the general public. Our elections are not fair – our elections are manipulated – by gerrymandering, etc., – our elections are subject to the whims of a particular legislature in a particular state —
        In other words, our elections do not represent the total public in general.
        In all probability, this is because less than half of the electorate actually vote.
        Perhaps a few laws mandating voting by all registered voters would be in order.
        Now get off your high horse. Trump missed a majority by nearly 3 million votes.

        1. Just A Citizen June 6, 2017


          No election involving millions of people is going to represent the people. Unless gerrymandering is done to consolidate people of similar interests.

          Your rantings sound like that of someone who has simply swallowed all the propaganda. You do realize that both parties do gerrymandering don’t you?

          And what does the popular vote have to do with the POTUS election? Nothing, except within each State. Your 3 million difference is completely accounted for in ONE STATE. It means nothing to me or to Mr. Turmp. It would not matter to you either if Trump had won the popular vote but lost the EC, because then YOUR candidate would have won.

  3. idamag June 6, 2017

    We have a generation who has not suffered a whole lot. In the past a person actually belonged to a family and had duties within that family. They went from family to community and had duties within that community. They have become more or less pampered pets who have been exposed to massive doses of consumerism. They have replaced electronic social media with face to face communication. It might take some privation to change them.

  4. Just A Citizen June 6, 2017

    So per the author, income determines whether you are “working” or not. Strange.

    And over 50,000 per year is in fact in the upper half. Not mentioning that about 45000 is the break point. So based on the numbers what we see is essentially a bell curve with about equal numbers in the white, non college and poorer groups and those making over 100 K per year.

    What seems to be missed in this weak attempt at class distinctions is that the election result and this data show that making over the median income is not a good gauge of “how well off” people actually are.

    1. JPHALL June 6, 2017

      Wrong! It merely points out that people will believe what they want to believe.

      1. Just A Citizen June 7, 2017

        Excuse me but did he not say they were “middle class” and NOT “working people”?

        Given that statement who are the “working class”?

  5. 1standlastword June 6, 2017

    I interpret this data to confirm Trump was “purely-and-in-fact” a “protest vote” against the establishment since these middle-middle and upper- middle class Americans (college educated) were been able acquire and sustain wealth while under establishment policy.

    I assume the burden of living under liberal and conservative establishment policies energized the support for a pure outsider who had an effective way projecting the voter’s disdain towards out of touch politicians devoted to their donor class.

    Trump shamed the establishment republicans on the debate stage to the enjoyment of all who endeavored to watch. They he shocked us all with a victory that certainly was sordid but effective to undermine the democratic establishment candidate.

    Trump didn’t have to have any credibility with the people who voted for him. It was enough for them to have him stick a fork in the eye of the establishment and now he’s working on sticking a fork in America…and that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone!

    1. Just A Citizen June 6, 2017

      And it helped his opponent was Hillary Clinton. The voters were in a foul mood, no doubt.

      But when there is no good choice, the electorate will sometimes do just as you said. Use the chance to poke a stick in the establishment’s eye.

    2. Almost everyone that voted for him was white. Hillary Clinton won every single non-white demographic, whether you break it down by ethnicity, age, income, or education. There’s a pretty straight-forward conclusion to be drawn here.

  6. dpaano June 6, 2017

    Who cares where or what they are…..they made a very foolish decision to vote for someone totally unqualified and unfit for the job of running this country. They are the ones who are going to suffer the most with his budget and his healthcare plan! Unfortunately, so will many of us who did NOT vote for him!


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