The demographics of Donald Trump’s supporters is a well-rehearsed list: They are disproportionately male, white, older, less educated, not so hot on multiculturalism, and sometimes outright racist. But here’s one characteristic that’s not so commonly observed, yet perhaps equally important: They are also more likely to live in areas where economists expect technology to replace jobs in the near future.
According to an analysis by the economist Jed Kolko, counties with the most “routine” jobs—including manufacturing and clerical work, which are more susceptible to automation and offshoring— were far more likely to vote for Trump. In counties where less than 40 percent of jobs are "routine," Clinton won by more than 30 percentage points. In counties where more than 50 percent of jobs are routine, Trump won by more than 30 points. The concentration of routine jobs predicted Trump support far better than unemployment or income.
Most of these routine-based jobs are held by men. They are farm hands, factory workers, and steelworkers. On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly promised a return to an era of this sort of manly work. He praised Pennsylvania steelworkers and Indiana air conditioning manufacturers. He is on record saying that women shouldn’t work too much, because he expects them to be dutiful cooks and house-cleaners. Indeed, many of his supporters surely expect his presidency to entail a reversion to decades-old norms, where manly work returns to the labor force and women return to the home. Their view fits an international trend. A new paper by the political scientists Ronald Inglehart, at the University of Michigan, and Pippa Norris, at Harvard University, said Trump’s ascent fits within a global “counter-revolutionary retro backlash” especially among older white men who “resent the displacement of familiar traditional norms.”