Millions of working-class Americans voted for a man who promised them the world—new factories, more shifts at mines, less foreign competition. But many of the people who support Donald Trump’s brand of economic populism don’t seem particularly convinced it will actually make things better.
Nearly half of Trump’s voters think life in their local communities will get better in the years to come, according to a post-election PRRI/The Atlantic poll. Another five percent think things might get worse. Granted, conditions look even more grim to Hillary Clinton’s supporters, more than half of whom report feeling worried or angry about the outcome of the election. But the fact that Trump’s base reports such pessimism despite victory shows how little some of them expect to benefit from a Republican presidency, as unconventional as this one may be.
“They’re fairly cynical,” said Robert P. Jones, PRRI’s CEO. “Yes, they may be hopeful, but if you ask them what they really expect, they're pretty fatalistic about it, even though they’re voting for all kinds of change.”
Take it from Bernice McCullough, 80, a retiree from Alliance, Ohio. She’s a registered Democrat, and she normally votes within the party. This year, Trump caught her eye—Barack Obama didn’t live up to her expectations, McCullough said, and she was in no mood for Clinton. So she cast her ballot for the Republican. But she did it with very few expectations.