Monday, March 14, 2016

Poor, uneducated, angry, rural whites are fueling Donald Trump's presidential campaign

Poor, uneducated, angry white rural residents are one of the biggest driving forces behind Donald Trump's run toward the Republican presidential nomination, Neil Irwin and Josh Katz report for The New York Times. William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, told the Times, “It’s a nonurban, blue-collar and now apparently quite angry population. They’re not people who have moved around a lot, and things have been changing away from them, but they live in areas that feel stagnant in a lot of ways.”

Using election results from The Associated Press, the American Community Survey, Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections and the Equality of Opportunity Project, the Times put together demographics of 10 variables most closely linked to a county's support of Trump. His biggest supporters are whites with no high school diploma. The second biggest supporters are those who self-identify with the Census Bureau as being of American descent. That's followed by people living in mobile homes, those working "old economy" jobs, such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing and trade. Trump has also done well with people born in the U.S., Evangelicals and those with a history of voting for segregationists, such as George Wallace in 1968. (Whites without a high school education by county)
"The places where Trump has done well cut across many of the usual fault lines of American politics—North and South, liberal and conservative, rural and suburban," Irwin and Katz write. "What they have in common is that they have largely missed the generation-long transition of the U.S. away from manufacturing and into a diverse, information-driven economy deeply intertwined with the rest of the world."

"Trump has performed well thus far in Appalachian coal counties and in rural parts of Alabama and Mississippi, which are coping with economic and social dysfunctions like high unemployment rates and heroin addiction," Irwin and Katz write. "And in places where Trump does well, relatively high proportions of workers are in fields that involve working with one’s hands, especially manufacturing. The decline in manufacturing employment is not a story of merely a rough few years for the economy; nationwide factory employment peaked in 1979 and as a proportion of total jobs has been declining almost continually since 1943. Forces including mechanization and trade have put employment prospects in the sector in an ever-worsening position." (Read more)

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