Who is Trump's base?

I hear references to “Trump’s base” a lot around here. I’m particularly interested in hearing from those who have used the phrase themselves. Who are you talking about? I think many of you are using a definition that would exclude me but some of you are using a definition that would include me. I have little doubt that some will use this opportunity to say vile things and call names. I can’t stop you, but I’ll do my best to ignore you and focus on the more substantive answers.

For starters, perhaps you could just give me a number: how many of your fellow countrymen do you include in your personal definition of “Trump’s base”? Just go ahead and round it off to the nearest million for us.

White people who score high on authoritarianism. There are obviously non-whites who score high on authoritarianism, but they know they are the out-groups and would be persecuted in any true authoritarian system. So they don’t vote for Trump much. Blacks who score high on authoritarianism aren’t going to vote for Trump for obvious reasons for example.

I’d guess about 30 million voters are white authoritarians as a rough number.

  1. Low information voters who don’t know much about how things like politics, economics, and foreign relations really work. They’re easily swayed by a demagogue who promises them easy answers and don’t understand that the answers they’re being given are lies. Some of these people have legitimate problems but they don’t understand Trump won’t solve any of their problems.

  2. Bigots who think Trump will allow them a greater range to advocate and practice their bigotry.

  3. Wealthy people who think Trump will enact policies that will favor wealthy people. Or at least will allow other Republicans to enact such policies.

  4. Foreigners and probably some Americans who would like to see a dysfunctional American government.

I won’t try to estimate numbers but I feel the largest share is in the first group. Which is ironic because they’re the part of Trump’s base which has the least reason to support him.

“Base” is the right word. In the sense of moral character.

  1. The overwhelming majority of Republicans–Trump has an 85%-90% approval rating from Republicans.
  2. A majority of the white working class (this group is traditionally Democratic).


A portion are Trump’s base because he pisses off the people who are to blame;
A portion are Trump’s base because they like the concept of MAGA;
Some are Trump over Clinton as preferred candidate;
Some are anybody but Clinton;
Some pushed the wrong button in the polling booth.

The question is how many will swing away from Trump, how many will swing to Trump and how many who didn’t vote in 2016 are now energised to vote for Trump.

If you look at the data, it’s pretty interesting.

White, male, not college educated, older (over 45) is one large bucket. Interestingly, they tend to be solidly middle class. Trump got lower support with voters with income under $50,000 than he did with voters who make more than $50,000. Their big concerns are immigration and terrorism. Many fear a return of recession. If I were to pick a unifying theme for these voters, it would be fear. They also fear the erosion of their rights by the advancement of the rights of others. This group will say that Democrats have talked too much about identity politics, but what they mean is that they feel left behind, pushed aside, and as if they are losing while or because other people are gaining.

A smaller bucket would be higher income bracket pragmatics who are hoping to get fiscal benefits from a Republican administration.

In terms of numbers, there are 2 different ways to reach that. Trump seems to be holding at 90% of Republicans (24% of US voters identify as Republican). 24% * 250,000,000 US voters = 60,000,000

Second method is via his approval rating. 538 puts him at 42% approval with US adults (not voters, or likely voters, but adults). His disapproval rating is 52%.

If we take 250,000,000 estimated voters, and apply the 42%, his base is ~105,000,000.

I’m comfortable with the lower number, given his performance in the 2016 election. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s lower.

IMO, only the first two groups you list are really his “base” – they’re the people who are likely to stick with Trump (and even enthusiastically support him) come hell or high water. I think that’s really what the idea of a political base means – it’s not everyone who winds up voting for you, but rather, the “true believers” who form your rock-solid support. and from which you build out into non-base voters to get enough votes to win an election.

The others you list probably weren’t as fervent supporters of Trump in 2016, but he was their preferred choice over Clinton. Whether they vote for him (or not) in 2020 will depend on what their other options are.

The meaning behind the words is “The people who have consciously or unconsciously decided to support Trump come hell or high water”. The reason for the constant mentions is that this group of people are so extremely loyal to Trump even when he repeatedly does and says indefensible things, to the extent that if Trump told them to shoot their own family, some would probably do it.

As Hedley Lamaar would put it: “rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers and Methodists!”

But seriously, I see them as one or more of the following:

1- Low-information and/or low intelligence voters. They watch Fox, they listen to Limbaugh and Savage, they believe all of the crazy Facebook memes that Russia can generate.

2- Bigots. They’ve waited all of their lives for someone who hates the same people that they do, now they have a permission slip to say and do all the filthy things they’ve always wanted to.

3- Fascists. They’ve always wanted someone who would make the country less democratic and hate the idea that undesirables have any say in the nation.

Well, we know it’s not Methodists, since they’re trying to excommunicate Jeff Sessions. :smiley:

In case you haven’t noticed, this strategy isn’t winning.

What strategy? I’m just stating an opinion. But in most special elections since the 2016 apocalypse, Democrats have been running ahead of their recent performance. The Republican strategy of putting infants in concentration camps may not play that well come November.

AKA deplorables.

The common clay …

Without resorting to name calling, the Trump base is people who are losing due to demographic and economic changes and the people who have a ton of money and can take advantage of Republican tax and economic policies.

I think that we can call them bigots, morons, etc. but that’s oversimplification. They are people whose way of life is going extinct and in many cases, they are really being screwed and we know this. We’re seeing wage stagnation and unemployment combined with rising costs among the less-educated demographics. Rising drug abuse, destruction of traditional social supports and a host of real issues that they are experiencing. What they have seen is that consistently since the 70s their lifestyle and economic situation has been under attack by globalization, demographic changes, government policies and the judiciary. Now we can respond, “That’s just how it is.” or “They had it too good for too long.” or “Down with their privilege.” Which are all true statements, but you can’t expect to get their vote with that message. What Trump has promised to do and is actually doing is making everyone else just as uncomfortable as they are. At this point, they have watched their position erode under both Democrats and Republicans and I believe that many fully expect to see it erode under Trump as well. What they get out of Trump is that the groups that have been benefiting from globalization and able to shield themselves from demographic changes-predominantly wealthy, college-educated coastals-are now experiencing just a little bit of what they have been feeling for 40+ years.

**I think this post is in the other Trump thread as well and shouldn’t be there, so Mods can delete it from there if they like. No idea how I ended up in the wrong thread.

You really don’t get it. If the economy sustains itself and he decides to run, we will have 4 more years of Trump thanks to you.

Don’t be a Debbie Downer. We can look forward to the tariffs putting the brakes on the economy and Mueller presenting his findings which, when leaked, will lead to his downfall. So keep the chin up, don’t panic and carry on!

The issue is that income is not really that important. Education is, but even when controlling for income the education gap still exists.

Also when you control for racism, sexism and authoritarianism the education gap among whites disappears. I can’t find the study right now, but education is a proxy for those things.

So I agree with you when you say they feel their way of life is disappearing.

But among whites who earn less than 30k, and among whites who earn over 100k, there is still a large education gap in Trump support.

Also blacks and latinos are facing economic pressure from globalization. But they aren’t turning to Trump and the GOP for help.

My point is that you are right about the demographics having an effect on Trump support, but I don’t know what role economics plays. Blacks and latinos didn’t vote for Trump, and poor college students graduates are less likely to support trump than people with a high school diploma who make 6 figures.

A large segment of his base are people who feel like their voice is not being heard. It is common, for instance, to hear a refrain to the effect of “Minorities get their say, women get their say, LGBT get their say, Muslims get their say, but the media/academia doesn’t speak up on behalf of white straight men, etc. We are told to check our privilege rather than getting our voices heard like everyone else’s.”

Or, “Flyover America - especially the Rust Belt and Appalachia - has been ignored.”