White, Working-Class Men Are Less Racist Than You Think

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


In my post earlier this morning I made the case that economic anxiety really did play a role in blue-collar support for Donald Trump. However, many of you cleverly noted that I slid in a postscript at the end that basically made a hash of my argument—and everyone else’s. It’s simple: Trump isn’t actually doing unusually well among white, working-class men. And if Trump isn’t doing better among blue collar men in the first place, then there’s really nothing to explain. Not racism, not nationalism, not economic anxiety, not anything. Apropos of that, here’s a Pew table from a few weeks ago:

Compared to Mitt Romney—a garden variety Republican if there ever was one—Trump is:

  • Doing worse among men
  • Doing worse among whites
  • Doing worse among the elderly
  • Doing worse among those with only a high school education
  • Doing worse among those with low incomes

This is not absolutely definitive. The problem is that Trump’s base is typically described as white, working-class men, and most polls just don’t break down support that finely. Still, if Trump is doing worse among whites, worse among men, and worse among the working class, it’s a pretty good bet that, at the very least, he’s not doing any better than Romney among white, working-class men. And if he is, I’ll bet it’s by a minuscule amount.

So here’s the real story: Trump is basically just a Republican candidate for president, appealing to all the usual groups that Republicans appeal to—and this has been true during the entire campaign. Nationally, support for Trump has changed only modestly over the past six months. In fact, if there’s any difference at all, it’s the fact that whites and men and the working class are turned off by his overt appeals to racism and nationalism. The fact that Trump has a small base of very loud white supporters doesn’t change this.

It’s hard to draw firm conclusions from any of this. Maybe white, working-class men do like Trump’s racial appeals, but are turned off for other reasons. (For example, he’s a lunatic.) We’ll never know for sure. But what evidence we have really doesn’t support the idea that the white working class loves Trump in the first place. Given that, any effort to explain it is bound to be wrong.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest