Seeking to chip away at the perception among working-class white voters that Mr. Trump is the economic populist in the race, Mrs. Clinton said the Republican nominee merely paid “lip service” to being on the side of average Americans.As Ed Kilgore noted a week ago, it's a fallacy that Romney lacked white working-class support:
... unlike Mitt Romney, whom President Obama effectively portrayed as a cold corporate titan in the 2012 race, Mr. Trump enjoys some of his strongest support among working-class white voters who believe he cares about people like them.
Mitt Romney won non-college-educated white voters by an estimated 62-36 in 2012.Until recently, as Kilgore notes, Trump was doing better than that -- though not much better:
As the New York Times’ Nate Cohn noted on July 25, Trump was winning white working-class voters at better than a two-to-one clip in some surveys (66-29 in a July CNN poll, 65-29 in a July ABC/Washington Post poll).But recently Trump has been lagging Romney:
A new NBC/Wall Street Journal survey showed his lead among non-college-educated white voters drooping to 49-36. Similarly, McClatchy/Marist pegs it at 46-31. These are not world-beating numbers.Shouldn't Chozick and Rappeport know about these polls? Shouldn't they know that even at his peak Trump was doing only a bit better than Romney with non-college whites? Why are they perpetuating a myth?
And why do we believe the myth, anyway? Zaid Jilani has an answer:
Much of the analysis of Trump’s support was based on the fact that he did very well indeed among a particular group of white working-class voters early on: those who planned to vote in the GOP primary....And note this:
But one third of white working-class voters planning to vote in a GOP primary is not that many people. Just 14 percent of eligible adults took part in the presidential caucuses and primaries, 9 percent of the total American population. White working-class Trump voters were a small subset of that number, not really enough to make much of a difference.
Within that GOP primary, ... the income differences between backers of the major candidates was not large over the course of the contest. A FiveThirtyEight analysis of exit poll data from primaries that took place through May 3 found that the median income of Trump voters was $71,000 -- just $1,000 shy of the figure for voters backing Ted Cruz, Trump’s only serious rival for the nomination throughout the contest.But the political establishment has a permanent crush on working-class whites, particularly the males, so the legend will continue to be printed.