The Unexpected Breadth of Donald Trump's Appeal

In New Hampshire, he won working class men without college diplomas—and most every other demographic group.

Randall Hill / Reuters

Earlier this year, when Mona Chalabi wanted to describe a Donald Trump voter in The Guardian, she conjured a 45-year-old male named Michael who never attended college, works 9-hour days as an exterminator, and earns $33,000 per year. Trump “is more popular among Americans that are white than those who aren’t, and more popular among Americans with penises than those without,” she wrote. “Often, these white men are also working or middle class and middle-aged.”

The New Hampshire primary didn't contradict that conventional wisdom. The billionaire won among voters who never attended college; the working class; and the middle-aged.

Then again, Trump won almost every other demographic, too.

The exit polls couldn’t be clearer. As Ramesh Ponnuru put it, They raise questions about what we think we know about the Trump phenomenon. Since the Granite State is so white, it didn’t test the candidate’s performance among minorities. But Trump proved an ability to best all his rivals among the following groups:

  • Women. He got 33 percent of their vote. The runner up, John Kasich, got 16 percent.
  • All ages. He won among 18-to-29-year-olds, 30-to-44-year-olds, 45-to-64-year-olds, and 65-and-over, his worst demographic, where he still won 31 percent of the vote.
  • He did better in the city and the suburbs than in rural areas, but won all three locales.
  • He won among voters with college degrees and among those with graduate degrees.
  • He won voters who make under $30,000, voters who make $200,000 or more, and all income ranges in between.
  • He won people who self-describe as “very conservative,” those who are “somewhat conservative,” and those who are “moderate.”
  • He won among evangelicals and non-evangelicals.
  • He won among those who feel that they’re getting ahead financially, those who think they’re holding steady, and those who believe they’re falling behind.
  • He won among those who think that the next generation will have better lives and those who think they’ll have worse lives. (He tied with John Kasich among those who feel that the next generation will have it roughly as good as this one.)
  • In addition to winning among voters who think that immigration policy is the most important issue, he won among the respective groups of voters who named the economy, terrorism, and government spending as most important.
  • He won among people who want to deport illegal immigrants and among those who believe that they should have a chance to apply for legal status.
  • He won among Republicans and independents.
  • He won among the married and unmarried.
  • He won among those who feel that leadership qualities are most important in choosing a president, and those who felt that “the issues” are most important.

Overall, 50 percent of voters declared that they would be satisfied if Donald Trump won the Republican nomination. “Trump has converted an incredibly high percentage of his potential supporters into actual supporters,” Nate Silver observes, “but these results (along with Trump’s mediocre favorability ratings) suggest that he has a lower ceiling on his support than a front-runner normally does.” Still, 50 percent is a higher ceiling than many expected of him in the recent past.

To exit polling data, Byron York adds anecdotes from the field:

At his victory celebration in Manchester Tuesday night, I met a young woman, Alexis Chiparo, who four years ago was an Obama-voting member of Now she is the Merrimack County chair of the Trump campaign.

"We just delivered Concord!" Chiparo told me excitedly. "We were getting a really excellent response from a very interesting swath of voters — veterans, disabled people, elderly people, women, blue-collar workers."

It remains true that Trump appeals to working-class Republican men without a college degree, and to people who want to deport illegal immigrants. But any attempt to understand his appeal that looks no farther than those groups is highly incomplete.

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