Who were Trump's voters? Explained, in their own words, and in numbers
Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, February 10, 2016 3:58PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 11, 2016 12:12AM EST
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Donald Trump's rallies had a working-class feel in New Hampshire -- with more ball caps, checkered flannel and camouflage-themed gear than some of the more establishment crowds.
Working-class voters were the cornerstone of his victory. But his dominance extended across multiple groups, as attested by the 20-per-cent margin that has bolstered his front-runner status in the Republican race.
Who were the people behind Trump's first primary victory?
Here are some clues -- from exit-poll data gathered by a consortium of U.S. media and from interviews with Trump voters explaining in their own words why they supported him:
- Finances: The strugglers loved him most. Trump was especially dominant among those who said they were falling behind financially. That being said, he won every economic category. He got the support of about 39 per cent of those earning under $50,000 and about 31 per cent among those making more than $100,000.
- Education: He was especially dominant among those without a college degree, finishing ahead by almost 30 percentage points in that group. He did well among those with a degree too, winning by 10 percentage points.
- Globalization: Many of his voters expressed strong opposition to free-trade deals. Campaign volunteer Bridget Trepsas said: "That NAFTA. That changed our country. Everybody's moving out." Retired cop Chip Paquette said: "I think there should be big tariffs on things coming into this country. We're losing jobs."
- Wealth: This repeatedly came up in conversation. Several supporters said Trump is too rich to be bought off by special interests. "(Others) work for the elite oligarchs," said Mary Spalding, a Coast Guard retiree. "He (knows) that crowd and he sees it. I think he's smart enough to deal with the lobbyists and the big-shots." Paquette put it more succinctly: "He don't owe anybody nothing."
- Immigration: "Our immigration problem is bad," said retired nurse Mary Sullivan said. "I tell you: We're really in danger." Among those who want to deport illegal immigrants, Trump finished 43 percentage points ahead of Ohio Gov. John Kasich. He was similarly dominant among voters who identified immigration as their No. 1 issue..
- Muslims: His proposal to halt Muslim travel to the U.S. had clear majority support among Republican voters overall. Paquette said: "I like the idea of him banning the Muslims. It's not because I'm against Muslims, or I'm prejudiced. I like the idea because you don't know who the bad guy is."
- Behaviour: He's outrageous, and people love it. "We are sick and tired of being politically correct. He just says it like it is," said Sullivan. "He doesn't mince any words." Trump won 65 per cent support from people who told pollsters the No. 1 personal quality they were seeking was "telling-it-like-it-is."
- Conservatism: Trump doesn't sell himself as either a small-government hawk, or as a social conservative. Nor did he have to. Many of his voters didn't care. He did as well with self-described moderates as with people who called themselves very or somewhat conservative. He's said he wants to win over former Democrats, as Ronald Reagan did.
- Elites: Disdain for elites and their opinions was big among Trump supporters: Sullivan said: "The Hollywood elites. They've been trying to ban him. I said that's a no-brainer. If they hate him so much, then I'm for him."