Remember “Soccer Moms?” They were all the rage in 1996, representing the slender slice of the suburban electorate Bill Clinton supposedly needed to win over to keep the presidency. Like the Macarena, the Soccer Mom turns 20 this year, but she doesn’t have the clout she once did. Now popular is the “White Working Class,” a catch-all label for a group of voters whose fears and anxieties have defined the 2016 campaign, or at least dominated media coverage.
But I misspeak. A good election-year Proper Noun Name describes a narrow set of swing voters who will determine the outcome of the race. The White Working Class, on the other hand, is neither narrow nor particularly swing-y. Most analysts say non-Hispanic white voters with a high-school education—and particularly those who are men—deeply favor Donald Trump, and have so for months. That demographic doesn’t favor Democrats; as my colleague Ron Brownstein noted earlier this year, no Democratic candidate besides Bill Clinton has gotten more than 40 percent of their vote in nearly 40 years. And there’s little doubt Trump’s America-First message has won him fans among folks who work with their hands for a living.
But how much space does the White Working Class take up in Trump’s coalition? A quarter of his votes? More than half? This is a bit tougher to figure out. Most polls describe the view of the population—say, that 81 percent of black Americans support Hillary Clinton, or that 12 percent of men want Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson to be president. But that doesn’t tell us what percentage blacks represent within Hillary Clinton’s vote, or if more women support Johnson than men.