“People are much more frightened than they are bigoted,” making his economic message resonate with “fed up” blue-collar voters, says Trump observer

No actor says “My character does this and says that because he is evil.” How many voters wake up in the morning saying, “I support this candidate because I am evil, stupid, and/or racist”? Nobody votes “against women’s reproductive rights” or “against unborn babies.”

Those are labels provided by the opposition, not the identity claimed by the group members. People vote a certain way because they are voting *for* something.

What is the value that Trump promises to deliver — the thing that most attracts his supporters?

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 3.45.29 PMHere is the most salient supporting fact: when people talk to white, working-class Trump supporters, instead of simply imagining what they might say, they find that what most concerns these people is the economy and their place in it. I am referring to a study just published by Working America, a political-action auxiliary of the AFL-CIO, which interviewed some 1,600 white working-class voters in the suburbs of Cleveland and Pittsburgh in December and January.

Support for Donald Trump, the group found, ran strong among these people, even among self-identified Democrats, but not because they are all pining for a racist in the White House. Their favorite aspect of Trump was his “attitude,” the blunt and forthright way he talks. As far as issues are concerned, “immigration” placed third among the matters such voters care about, far behind their number one concern: “good jobs / the economy.”

“People are much more frightened than they are bigoted,” is how the findings were described to me by Karen Nussbaum, the executive director of Working America. The survey “confirmed what we heard all the time: people are fed up, people are hurting, they are very distressed about the fact that their kids don’t have a future” and that “there still hasn’t been a recovery from the recession, that every family still suffers from it in one way or another.” —Thomas Frank, The Guardian