Center for Vision and Values-How can we explain the surprising electoral success of Donald Trump, especially in light of his lack of political experience, limited knowledge of and specificity about policy issues, and crude and insulting rhetoric? Who supports him and why do they find the business tycoon to be so attractive?
Analysts have identified four major features of Trump supporters. First, few of them have graduated from college. This is an important statistic because it likely speaks to their economic frustrations. Consider that only 68 percent of men without a bachelor’s degree had a full-time job in 2013. Moreover, the wages of these men, adjusted for inflation, have declined significantly since 1990. The shift of many manufacturing jobs to other countries and the low salaries of service jobs in the United States have reduced the employment opportunities and income of men and women who have not completed a college degree. Consequently, many of these people are disgruntled and ripe for change—and many are supporting Trump.
Second, Trump’s supporters are individuals who complain that they have little political voice. In polls, high percentages of those who agree with the statement “people like me don’t have any say about what the government does” prefer Trump. People’s conviction that they lack power and influence predicts Trump support much better than any other factor including amount of education, income, age, race, or attitudes toward Muslims or illegal immigrants.