Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

PEW Explains Who is Voting for Trump and Why

“In a new survey by the Pew Research Council, half of the registered voters surveyed (51%) said they think the future for the next generation will be worse, while just 24% said life will be better for the next generation. The survey indicated this pessimistic sentiment is spread across racial and economic lines.”

– Optimism Is a Casualty in Campaign 2016, Wall Street Journal

30 years of wage stagnation followed by one wealth-eviscerating asset bubble after another has drained the optimism from the collective American psyche.  Most people now think things are going to get worse for themselves and their children.  This pervasive pessimism shows up in other surveys as well,  like this recent Gallup poll in which the sample-group was asked, “In general, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time?”

You’d think that would be a slam-dunk for President Obama who never misses a chance to boast about his great economic recovery. But the fact is, 71 percent of the people said they were dissatisfied with the way things are going. Only 27 percent said they’re satisfied. That’s not just a knock on Obama, it’s also a powerful statement about the abysmal condition economy. The vast majority of people are clearly frustrated that they can’t get ahead because the economy isn’t improving. At the same time, they can’t help but notice that more and more of the nation’s wealth is being shifted to the people who least need it, the 1 percent elites at the top.

The point we’re trying to make is that Donald Trump’s meteoric rise in the GOP can be traced back to the failed economic policies of prior administrations. He’s the political beneficiary of  3 decades of stagnant wages, falling incomes, declining living standards,  and a cataclysmic financial crisis that wiped out trillions of dollars in home equity leaving behind a battered middle class and sluggish economy that doesn’t grow, doesn’t generate opportunities for upward mobility, and only produces low-paying, deadend, service-sector jobs that barley pay the rent. In other words, if the economy wasn’t in such dire straits, Trump probably would not be the GOP frontrunner. Here’s a summary of what’s really going on by Mechele Dickerson:

“The American Dream that has existed in this country for over 50 years is on life support. For some Americans, it may already be dead….One-fifth of all employed Americans must find ways to supplement their income just to pay bills and buy groceries. Fourteen percent are spending more on their credit cards to pay for their monthly living expenses, and 17 percent of workers have been forced to sacrifice their retirement security….

Federal Reserve data show that 31 percent of people who have not yet retired and 19 percent of 55-64-year-old adults who are nearing retirement age have no postwork savings or private pension..

Americans who have worked hard and played by the rules now fear that they will never be financially successful. They have lost faith in the American Dream. They are disillusioned, and they are showing signs of despair…” (Is the American Dream Dead, PBS)

This is the environment in which Trump has emerged as the unlikely frontrunner of the Republican Party. Trump has been able to capitalize on anti-establishment sentiment just by being himself. His supporters, many of who are blue collar conservatives from small cities and towns across the country, love the fact that Trump is not self censoring and that he says what he thinks whether others find it offensive or not. They see his patrician condescension, his outspoken xenophobia and his blustery showmanship as a refreshing antidote to the other GOP candidates who are invariably scripted, wooden, and fake.

It’s unlikely that Trump would have been as successful as he has been if the economy was in better shape. But, as the surveys indicate, people are desperately unhappy and want change now which is why they’ve turned to a glitzy billionaire casino magnate whose one redeeming grace appears to be that he is an outsider who promises to shake things up once he gets to Washington. We’ll see.

But let’s cut to the chase: Who are these Trump supporters and why are they backing him?

The PEW Research Center’s latest survey titled: “Campaign Exposes Fissures Over Issues, Values and How Life Has Changed in the U.S” sheds some light on these and other questions. Here are a few excerpts from the piece:

“Among GOP voters, fully 75% of those who support Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination say life for people like them has gotten worse…”(a much higher percentage than for any other candidate)…..

“GOP voters who support Trump also stand out for their pessimism about the nation’s economy and their own financial situations: 48% rate current economic conditions in the U.S. as “poor” – no more than about a third of any other candidate’s supporters say the same. And 50% of Trump supporters are not satisfied with their financial situations, the highest among any candidate’s supported.”

“Within the GOP, anger at government is heavily concentrated among Trump supporters – 50% say they are angry at government, compared with 30% of Cruz backers and just 18% of those who support Kasich….”

“Among Republicans, a majority of those who back Trump (61%) view the system as unfair…among Trump supporters, just 27% say trade agreements are beneficial for the U.S, while 67% say they are bad thing…”

“Half of Trump supporters (50%) say they are angry at the federal government, compared with 30% of Cruz supporters and 18% of Kasich supporters. Even smaller shares of Sanders (13%) and Clinton supporters (6%) express anger at government. Anger at government – and politics – is much more pronounced among Trump backers than among supporters of any other presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat…”  (Campaign Exposes Fissures Over Issues, Values and How Life Has Changed in the U.S, PEW Research Center)

Let’s summarize: A higher percentage of Trump supporters think they are getting screwed-over by an unfair system. They think “free trade” only benefits the rich, they think the government is unresponsive to their needs,  they think the system is rigged, they think the economy stinks and they’re really, really mad.

So, is it fair to say that the Trump campaign is mainly fueled by middle-and-lower income, raging white males who feel like the system threw them overboard years ago and left them with no way to improve conditions for themselves and their families?

It certainly looks that way from the results of the survey, but I could be wrong.

More articles by:

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
Brian Saady
How the “Cocaine Mitch” Saga Deflected the Spotlight on Corruption
David Swanson
Tim Kaine’s War Scam Hits a Speed Bump
Norah Vawter
Pipeline Outrage is a Human Issue, Not a Political Issue
Mel Gurtov
Who’s to Blame If the US-North Korea Summit Isn’t Held?
Patrick Bobilin
When Outrage is Capital
Jessicah Pierre
The Moral Revolution America Needs
Binoy Kampmark
Big Dead Place: Remembering Antarctica
John Carroll Md
What Does It Mean to be a Physician Advocate in Haiti?
George Ochenski
Saving Sage Grouse: Another Collaborative Failure
Sam Husseini
To the US Government, Israel is, Again, Totally Off The Hook
Brian Wakamo
Sick of Shady Banks? Get a Loan from the Post Office!
Colin Todhunter
Dangerous Liaison: Industrial Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again
George Capaccio
Bloody Monday, Every Day of the Week
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Swing Status, Be Gone
Samantha Krop
Questioning Our Declaration on Human Rights
Morna McDermott
Classrooms, Not Computers: Stop Educating for Profit
Patrick Walker
Today’s Poor People’s Campaign: Too Important Not to Criticize
Julia Stein
Wrestling With Zionism
Clark T. Scott
The Exceptional President
Barry Barnett
The Family of Nations Needs to Stand Up to the US  
Robert Koehler
Two Prongs of a Pitchfork
Bruce Raynor
In an Age of Fake News, Journalists Should be Activists for Truth
Max Parry
The U.S. Won’t Say ‘Genocide’ But Cares About Armenian Democracy?
William Gudal
The History of Israel on One Page
Robert Jensen
Neither cis nor TERF
Louis Proyect
Faith or Action in a World Hurtling Toward Oblivion?
David Yearsley
The Ubiquitous Mr. Desplat
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail