Trump and the working class

Laura Clawson at The Daily Kos cites a study by sociologists Jake Rosenfeld and Patrick Denice that looks at the extent to which union households voted for Trump in November. As she writes “it’s complicated.”

On the one hand, “In 2016 the partisan split among union households was smaller than at any time since Ronald Reagan’s re-election in 1984.” But there’s a but, and it centers on third-party candidates:

Trump did outdo Mitt Romney’s performance among union household voters – but by only 3 points. Much more significantly, between 2012 and 2016 the share of the union household vote going to the Democrat in the race shrank from 58% to 51%, with the share of union household members saying that they voted for neither the Democrat nor the Republican in the race tripling, from 2% to 6%.

The bad news is that it looks like union households are looking for someone to fight for them and increasingly don’t see the Democrats as doing that. Many of us believe strongly that Trump is conman who cares not at all for those with a union card, but unionists are searching for answers. Giving third-party candidates a chance could be one manifestation of that as well.

In my kinder moments I see Trumpism as, in many cases, a cry from those who never get a hearing, as if they are saying  “pay attention to us or we’ll put a crazy man in charge.” I’ve seen the data that shows Trump’s base not necessarily among the poorest Anericans,  but I still think some of the most powerless Americans have sent us all a powerful message we ought not ignore.

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