New Report Explores Working-Class Voters' Reactions Post-Election
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new Working America report finds that whether they voted for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, working-class voters across the political spectrum are still as uncertain about their futures and skeptical of government as they were before November. Many are also looking for Donald Trump to stop his antagonistic and hateful rhetoric and work to heal a nation they perceive as incredibly divided.
The unique “front porch focus group” report used qualitative and quantitative data from more than 2,300 face-to-face conversations held immediately after the 2016 election in working-class neighborhoods in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, North Carolina, and Florida, to paint a picture of voters’ reactions to the election and to Trump’s agenda and style.
“When we went to see how voters in working-class communities were processing the election results, we found emotions running high, with voters who feel the economy has passed them by still searching for a clear path forward,” said Working America Executive Director Karen Nussbaum.
“There are emerging fissures in voters’ allegiance to Trump. Two out of 3 people who voted for him disagreed with some aspect of his agenda,” Nussbaum added. “There’s a real opportunity for progressives to engage voters face-to-face and split his base.”
Supplemented with anecdotes from voters, the report findings include:
- Jobs/Economy was a top policy issue for both Trump and Clinton voters. A full 37 percent of Trump voters said they want him to tackle jobs and the economy first, compared to 21 percent of Clinton voters.
- Two-thirds of Trump voters disagree with parts of his agenda or style, with most looking for him to stop using hateful rhetoric and rejecting his most extreme anti-immigrant positions. Sixty-three percent of voters across the spectrum said they see the country as more divided in the wake of the election.
- Trump’s plans to build a wall or deport millions of immigrants are unpopular among people of all backgrounds, but especially among people of color. For these voters, it was the top issue of Trump’s that they rejected, more than his stance on jobs or health care. More than 1 in 4 voters of color felt this way.
- We found areas of agreement between men and women, but there were seeds of difference. Male and female voters agreed on what issues Trump should prioritize, like jobs and the economy. However, women were more likely to disagree with everything and men more likely to agree with everything Trump said.
- Voters were frustrated by candidate choice. Across the five battleground states, voters we spoke with consistently told us they hadn’t liked either candidate and felt forced to choose between “the lesser of two evils.” Ultimately, those who chose Trump hated the political establishment more than they hated him, and didn’t see Clinton as a way to achieve meaningful change.
- There was interest in “strength in numbers” to fight for good jobs. While Trump voters had just helped elect a Republican, 1 in 5 we talked with were still willing to join an organization that self-identifies as part of the union movement. This counterintuitive act signals how open a portion of these voters are to a progressive agenda.
Unlike traditional public opinion polling, which is based on randomly sampled people intended to be representative of a given population, this report targeted working-class neighborhoods in five battleground states, with 63% of the people we spoke with from households making $75,000 or less. Our sample is not intended to be representative of the broader electorate.
Over three weeks, from Nov. 21 through Dec. 9, 2016, Working America canvassers spoke with 2,355 voters in five battleground states—Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania—generally focusing on swing communities in the suburbs and exurbs. Some of the voters our canvassers spoke to had been previously canvassed by Working America organizers during the 2016 election cycle. We asked our canvassers to listen carefully, engage thoughtfully and to reflect on what they heard.
Of the voters we canvassed, 93 percent reported voting in the 2016 election. Of the people who told us who they voted for, 56 percent told us they voted for Clinton, and 37 percent said they voted for Trump. Seven percent of the people we talked with voted for a third-party candidate. The vast majority of people we spoke with were white (83 percent); 10 percent were black and 6 percent were Latinx. Overall, the breakdown between women and men was 54 percent women and 46 percent men. White voters made up 95 percent of Trump’s support in our sample. Five percent of Trump supporters were people of color. Among this segment, 4 percent were Latinx and 1 percent was black.
At 3 million members, Working America mobilizes working people who don’t have the benefit of a union at work to fight for good jobs and a fair economy that works for everyone. We’re committed to uniting working people in urban and suburban communities around a shared economic agenda. For more information, visit www.WorkingAmerica.org