TRUMP’s POPULIST cries have, throughout his presidency, been for a specific audience: to ‘Make America Great Again’ for some, but not all.
Republican candidates have always had the support of a majority of white men, and it was not just Trump’s politics that ensured their support in 2016. It was also a cultural and emotional appeal through his ‘straight-talking’ that spoke to a victimisation of white people, men and Christians, and ridiculed concepts of ‘white male privilege’.
Pew research showed that 62% of white men voted Trump in 2016, while just 32% voted Clinton.
While media coverage of Trump’s overtly sexist comments and accounts of his misogynistic behaviour lined the campaign trail in 2016, the post-mortem headlines ran exit poll figures showing that 52% of white women had voted for Trump (compared to 43% who supported Hillary Clinton).
Pew research has shown that the figures were actually slightly lower, with 45% of white women voting Clinton and 47% voting Trump. Nonetheless, white America voiced a clear winner back in 2016.
New HOPE not hate polling shows that while the white vote continues to favour Trump, the margins seem much closer for 2020, with Biden trailing eight points behind Trump among white men and just three points behind among white women.
White men and women don’t differ hugely on the key issues at stake for 2020. They are both more driven by concerns around immigration and terrorism – more than other groups – and both split 50:50 in their support for, or opposition to, Black Lives Matter.
They are both split down the middle on seeing Trump as a strong leader making America great again or thinking he is divisive and dangerous, and on whether Trump is racist or not. For both groups 45% think Trump has handled the coronavirus outbreak well, while 55% think he has handled it poorly.
But splits between white men and white women open up more when given a series of trade-offs to consider, with around 10% fewer white women than white men willing to trade their human rights and freedoms for a better financial situation, greater security, or a preservation of the country’s traditions.
White women are far more cautious than white men around how the American economy will recover from Covid-19. White women are more likely to draw the line on violence than white men, while 34% of white men say that violence can be necessary to defend something you strongly believe in, compared to 24% of white women.
These could be key issues that pull the 14% of undecided white women away from Trump.
US politics falls heavily on racial lines, and given Trump’s approach to race relations throughout his presidency, his appeal to Black and Hispanic voters is clearly weaker.
Our polling reflects much coverage of enthusiastic Black turnout in early voting queues, with a clear majority of Black and Hispanic voters are intending to vote Democrat – just 7% of Black women intend to vote for Trump, compared to 63% who will vote Biden.
Across all Black, Hispanic, and voters of other ethnicities, support for Biden far outweighs the Trump vote, and support for Biden is far higher than it was for Clinton in 2016.
Black women are most likely to be vocal about challenging inequality, actively rejecting Trump as racist (80%), and as a divisive and dangerous leader who is damaging America (78%). Just 18% think that the country is going in the right direction, and 86% see systemic racism as a problem for the US.
While just 5% would describe their political views as progressive, and 23% as liberal, a third of Black women (31%) list human rights abuses in their list of most important issues, 80% support the Black Lives Matter movement, and also far more support a rehabilitative justice system over a punitive one.
Yet many black men see race relations differently. The vast majority are critical about the existence of systemic racism in the US (84%) and supportive of the BLM movement (71%), but almost half (46%) of Black men say that white people are discriminated against as much as people of colour.
In the run-up to the 2020 election, systemic racism against Black Americans has been brought to the fore of public debate. And while many Black voters feel that 2020 is an opportunity to vote out a President who has excused white supremacists and frequently hit out at the Black Lives Matter movement as violent and ‘hateful’, not all are enchanted by Biden, and Trump’s leadership continues to appeal to a sizeable minority of black men.
Our polling suggests that Trump has retained his 2016 support from one in five Black men (19%) and one in four Hispanic men (26%).
It is notable that the Trump campaign has made significant efforts to tap into a Black male voter base, many of which say they have felt taken for granted by the Democrats. Black men are also the most likely group of voters to feel strongly that those in power do not care about people like them (40%).
Indeed, there has been a lot of talk of the ‘machismo vote’, of Black and Latino men, drawn to Trump’s self-styled hypermasculinity. His plain-speaking approach, unafraid to offend and unapologetic when he does, speaks to a defence of traditional masculinity, that many see under threat in a world of increasingly progressive social norms.
Indeed, looking at attitudes to feminism, around half of all white, black and Hispanic men are more likely to feel that feminism has held men back in society. Men are also, on the whole, more likely to think that violence is acceptable to defend something that you believe in strongly.
But when asked whether it is better to have a liberal democracy or a strong and decisive leader who does without democratic processes, it is black women who are most likely to opt for the latter, with white and Hispanic men the least likely to want this.
It’s true that Black men are generally less critical of Trump, with 36% saying that Trump is a strong leader who is making America great again. And while four in 10 white men (40%) and Black men (37%) feel the country is going in the right direction, just 18% of black women, 28% of all Hispanics and 30% of white women feel the same way.
But a reading of this as a ‘machismo vote’ seeking out a strongman plays on crude stereotypes of Black and Latino masculinity, which mask the diversity of views among black and Hispanic voters.
Our polling would suggest that softness towards Trump among black men is not so much the ‘strong man’ appeal of Trump, but rather a reflection of how they feel they are doing: 62% of Black men say that things are better for themselves than five years ago, and 47% say things are better for America as a whole, higher than any other group.
A third of Hispanic men (32%) and women (29%) continue to see Trump as a strong leader who is making America great again, but his handling of Covid-19 might well have ensured a Democrat win from Hispanic voters.
Such voters are most concerned of all groups about the impact of Covid-19: 62% of Hispanic men and 64% of Hispanic women consider this among their most important issues, while 73% of all Hispanic respondents believe that Trump has mismanaged the crisis.
Perhaps unsurprising, given that Hispanic and Latino communities have been disproportionally hit by the pandemic, accounting for 24% of all Covid-19 related deaths between May and August 2020.
This election is the first time in history that Hispanics will make up the biggest racial or ethnic minority voting bloc, with around 32 million people able to cast ballots. But with 72% of Hispanic men and women saying that the country is headed in the wrong direction, this bloc – with 10% of men and 15% of women it it still undecided – is unlikely to swing in Trump’s favour.
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