Polling News

2016 White Working-Class Voters

August 11, 2016

Donald Trump believes his path to the White House depends on winning white working-class voters, specifically those in northeast states like Maine and Pennsylvania and in Midwest states like Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan.  Conventional wisdom suggests white voters alone will not be enough for victory, given the country’s changing demographics, but a case can be made that Trump could make gains among whites, given the strong discontent felt by white working-class voters in both parties.  Just how much better would he have to do with this bloc to win, especially if he falls short of Mitt Romney’s totals with Hispanics and college-educated white voters?

The New York Times Upshot blog ran the numbers.  To win enough states Barack Obama carried in 2012, Trump would have to outperform Romney’s percentages with white working-class voters in all but one state (NC) by an average of 6 points.  To make up for states where he might receive 5-points less than Mr. Romney’s totals with Hispanics and college-educated whites, Trump will need to beat the 2012 GOP share of white working-class voters by 1 point in NC; 6 points in OH; 8 points in IA, NC, FL, and PA; 10 points in WI; 11 points in VA; 12 points in MI and MN; 14 points in CO and NV; and 15 points in OR and ME.  His margin among whites will need to range from 56% in IA to 72% in VA.  

This will not be easy.  In Maine, for example, Mr. Trump is today winning 46% of the non-college educated voters to Hillary Clinton’s 35%, but losing the state 42%-35%.  In Michigan, he is ahead 40%-38% with non-college educated voter, but losing the state 40%-30%.  It will be tough for Trump to gain 10+ points with white working-class voters over the next three months in key states.

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