Breaking down Trump’s success

The Wall Street Journal released an interactive story on how Donald Trump went from being a candidate that many thought would be a flash in the pan to being the front-runner in Republican primaries. The real estate mogul earned both supporters and a strong contingent of vocal opponents with his brazen attitude and brash statements that upset both the GOP establishment as well as many progressives.

Photo from The Wall Street Journal

The interactive piece breaks down the demographics and values of the different groups of voters in the GOP primaries: Social Conservatives (Carson, Cruz), Trump supporters, and Establishment supporters (Bush, Rubio).

The article’s first demographic is income, where trump supports earn less than both the social conservative and establishment supporters.

Going along with the income, Trump supporters are less likely to have a college degree, 38% compared to 55% for establishment voters and 46% for social conservatives.

Trump gained ground not from tackling traditional conservative talking points, but by tapping into the fear people have of America falling behind. Of his supporters, 55% believe that free trade is bad for the US (41% for social conservatives, 24% for establishment voters), 81% believing that immigration hurts the US (60% for social conservatives, 45% for establishment voters) and perhaps most telling of Trumps personality, 60% of his supporters believe that “it is more important to stand up for one’s convictions than to seek common ground.”

Unlike the social conservatives, the Trump crowd is less likely to “attend church or another place of worship weekly,” 38% compared to 56%, or to have a strong pro-life perspective 65% to 48%, and issue closely tied to religion. However, his group of voters more strongly supports gun rights than either social conservatives or establishment voters, 73% are strong supporters of gun rights, compared to just 66% in the same category for the social conservatives.

Concisely, Trump has been able to garner support by tapping into nonreligious conservative voters whose main concern is an unstable economic future.


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