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Mon Apr 26, 2021, 03:38 PM

Republicans' strategy now relies entirely on stoking the eternal 'victimhood' of their voters

The myth of the elusive “white working class” Trump voter continues to haunt Democratic dreams of holding on to its slim House and Senate majorities. But a closer analysis suggests that what unified millions of Americans to support Trump, and what continues to constitute the biggest threat to Democrats has little to do with economic disparity or any “bread and butter” issues. Rather, it has more to do with the deliberate, calculated efforts by Trump—and now by all Republican elected legislators—to maintain and stoke a perpetual sense of “victimhood” among their constituents.

Trump’s supposed appeal to “white working class” Americans has been interpreted as a phenomenon unique to Trump himself, as if his arrival on the political scene suddenly galvanized entire swaths of a previously dormant voter demographic. The reality, though, is considerably more nuanced, as reported in The Washington Post in 2017: “If being working class means being in the bottom half of the income distribution, the vast majority of Trump supporters during the primaries were not working class.” The great majority of those who supported Trump during the 2016 primaries—the truest measure of a “Trump voter”—earned livings well above the national median income level.

Nor was lack of a college education peculiar to Trump supporters. Although 70% of his votes came from people without a college degree, there was nothing unique about that in terms of Republican voters overall, as The Post’s Nicholas Carnes and Noam Lupu noted.

[D]uring the primaries, about 70 percent of all Republicans didn’t have college degrees, close to the national average (71 percent according to the 2013 Census). Far from being a magnet for the less educated, Trump seemed to have about as many people without college degrees in his camp as we would expect any successful Republican candidate to have.


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