Editor’s Note: This pretty much confirms my theory of Trump’s base. The Pew Research Center has tracked this group of voters in the Center as the “Disaffected” and “Embittered” and “Hard-Pressed Skeptics” for thirty years now. They were relabeled “Market Skeptic Republicans” in 2017. In this Voter Study Group survey, this familiar group are called the “American Preservationists.” They were the group responsible for this map of the 2016 electorate. Read the whole article to understand the Right.
The Right are the Free Marketeers and Staunch Conservatives.
The American Preservationists who stormed the GOP in 2016 are a Center group. This group is the reason why Trump won both the nomination and presidency in 2016.
“American Preservationists (20 percent) These Trump voters lean economically progressive, believe the economic and political systems are rigged, have nativist immigration views, and a nativist and ethnocultural conception of American identity.
Although American Preservationists are less loyal Republicans than other Trump voter groups, and nearly half had positive views of Clinton in 2012, American Preservationists comprise the core Trump constituency that propelled him to victory in the early Republican primaries.
American Preservationists have low levels of formal education and the lowest incomes of the Trump groups — and non-Trump voters as well. Despite being the most likely group to say that religion is “very important” to them, they are the least likely to attend church regularly. They are the most likely group to be on Medicaid, to report a permanent disability that prevents them from working, and to regularly smoke cigarettes. Despite watching the most TV, they are the least politically informed of the Trump groups.
American Preservationists appear more likely to desire being around people like themselves, who have similar backgrounds and cultural experiences. They are far more likely to have a strong sense of their own racial identity and to say their Christian identity is very important to them. They take the most restrictionist approach to immigration — staunchly opposing not just illegal but legal immigration as well, and intensely supporting a temporary Muslim travel ban. They feel the greatest amount of angst over race relations: they believe that anti-white discrimination is as pervasive as other forms of discrimination, and they have cooler feelings (as measured on a feeling thermometer scale) toward minorities.(2) They agree in overwhelming numbers that real Americans need to have been born in America or have lived here most of their lives and be Christian.
American Preservationists are trade skeptics and look more like Democrats on domestic economic issues, particularly on the nation’s wealth distribution, concern over old-age entitlement programs, and animus toward Wall Street. They feel powerless against moneyed interested and the politically connected and tend to distrust other people. They also share liberals’ views on the environment, believing that global warming is a serious threat and human activity is primarily to blame.
American Preservationists (20 percent)
American Preservationists lean economically progressive and embrace a nativist conception of American identity, take nativist stances on immigration, and believe the system is biased against them.
They are a core Trump constituency with 87 percent saying their vote was for Trump and 77 percent that they have “very favorable” views of him. In the early Republican primaries, 83 percent of their votes went to Trump, more than any other cluster. They like Trump with far greater intensity than they do other Republican leaders. Only 15 percent have “very favorable” views of Ted Cruz, 17 percent for House Speaker Paul Ryan, and 12 percent for Mitt Romney. Even still, majorities have at least “somewhat” favorable views of these men.
American Preservationists comprised the core of Trump’s early primary voters, and they helped catapult him to the nomination. Among those who participated in the primary, a full 82 percent voted for Trump, a share 20 to 40 points higher than among other groups (see Appendix B).
These supporters (along with the Anti-Elites) are more Democratic-friendly voters with a majority (53 percent) who say they vote for both Democrats and Republicans in elections, in contrast to the Staunch Conservatives and Free Marketeers who vote for Republicans. In 2012, 42 percent of American Preservationists had a favorable view of Clinton, but that swiftly shrank to 5 percent by 2016.
These voters are more fiscally liberal than their Free Marketeer and Staunch Conservative counterparts with 75 percent supporting higher taxes on higher income families (see Figure 4). They are also the most concerned about Social Security and Medicare of the groups (see Figure 5), and are relatively more concerned about government ensuring people have health insurance, providing family and medical leave and investing in infrastructure. Nevertheless, 8 in 10 support repealing the health care law.
It is also worth noting they are the only group in which a majority (55 percent) accesses health insurance through the government — they are nearly twice as likely to do so than any other group. This cannot simply be explained by differences in age, as they are not disproportionately older than other groups. Among those under 65 years old, American Preservationists are two to seven times more likely than other groups to have government provided health insurance (44 percent).
This group is also the most skeptical of free trade with only a little over a third favoring increasing trade and a plurality (47 percent) believing that trade increases the prices of products — twice the share of the other groups.
American Preservationists feel a lack of personal agency and have a sense that we are living in a dog-eat-dog world. They are the most likely group to believe the economic and political systems are rigged against them. Eighty-eight percent (88 percent) believe the economic system is biased in favor of the wealthiest Americans, 60 percent believe wealth is unfairly distributed, and 63 percent have cold feelings toward Wall Street. Furthermore, two-thirds of American Preservationists believe people like them have no say in government and they are twice as likely as other groups to think elections do not change things.
They, along with the Anti-Elites, are also most likely to believe that women miss out on good jobs because of discrimination (59 percent). This group is also the most likely to believe that most people look out just for themselves rather than try to help others (62 percent) and will try to take advantage if they get the chance (66 percent).
This is the core nativist group in the Trump coalition. At first glance they are similar to the Staunch Conservatives with 8 in 10 saying immigration is “very important” and roughly three-fourths opposing a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants. They are, however, the most likely group (74 percent) to say that we should make it “much harder” for immigrants to legally immigrate to the U.S. (see Figure 6). Furthermore, they are the only group in which a majority (52 percent) have very cold feelings toward immigrants overall. More than 8 in 10 also “strongly favor” the temporary ban on Muslim immigration and two-thirds have very cold feelings toward Muslims (see Figure 7).
On matters of race, this group feels cooler toward Latinos than other groups. Less than half (46 percent) report warm feelings toward them, compared to 58 percent who hold similar feelings about Asians and 52 percent who have warm feelings toward African-Americans. Overall, American Preservationists are about 10 to 20 points less likely than other Trump and non-Trump groups to have warm feelings toward minority groups. A slim majority (54 percent) “strongly” believe discrimination against whites has become “as big of a problem” as discrimination against minorities. In addition, less than half agree that “increased opportunities for African-Americans have significantly improved the quality of life in the United States.”
This group has a strong sense of racial identity. Fully 67 percent say that their race is extremely or very important to their identity — 30 to 50 points higher than any other Trump voter group (see Figure 8). To put this in context, only 17 percent of Free Marketeers feel their race is important to their identity. The American Preservationists were also the most likely to believe their fate was linked with their racial group (73 percent).
American Preservationists embrace a nativist and ethnocultural conception of American identity. They are 20 to 50 points more likely than other groups to believe that to be truly American it is “very important” to have been born in America (69 percent), to have lived in America for most of one’s life (67 percent), and to be Christian (59 percent). A plurality (47 percent) also say it is very or somewhat important to be of European descent to be truly American — dramatically higher than the 2 percent of Free Marketeers, 14 percent of Anti- Elites, 25 percent of Staunch Conservatives, and 1 percent of the Disengaged who agree (see Figure 9).
A desire for societal order and obedience is also important to American Preservationists. They are the only group to say it is more important to teach your child obedience (58 percent) than self-reliance (37 percent) (see Figure 10). They are also one of the most likely groups to say the death penalty is not used often enough (74 percent) — 20 to 30 points higher than the Free Marketeers and Anti-Elites.
Despite their desire for obedience from community members, they do not see themselves as traditional. A majority (57 percent) said they would not describe themselves as such, religious liberty issues were only a moderate priority, and only 33 percent described themselves as pro-life.
What may surprise readers is this group’s view on climate change and political compromise: they believe in both. They are one of the most likely groups to believe that global warming is happening (58 percent), that it is serious (61 percent), and caused by human activity (a 40 percent plurality). Furthermore, 53 percent want their member of Congress to be “compromise oriented” to get things done and make deals.
This group has several personal characteristics that make them stand out. They are about twice as likely as other groups to be smokers, with 42 percent who smoke every day. They are also less likely to be a gun owner or a member of the NRA.
They also watch the most TV, with 42 percent who report watching more than four hours a day. Although more in this group report watching Fox News than other cable and broadcast channels, they are less likely overall than other groups to do so. In fact, much of their TV watching is not devoted to the news. They report paying less attention to the news than other groups — they are about 20 to 30 points less likely than the Staunch Conservatives and Free Marketeers to say they know “a lot” about politics (22 percent) and follow it “most of the time” (52 percent). By extension, they have less political knowledge than other groups — for instance, they are about half as likely as the Free Marketeers and Staunch Conservatives to know that John Roberts is a “judge” (42 percent).
This is a less Republican group with only 40 percent identifying as such in 2012 and 23 percent identifying as Democrats. They are also less likely than other groups to self-identify as libertarian (6 percent), and half as likely to have been involved with the Tea Party movement (19 percent). American Preservationists and the Anti-Elites are the most likely groups to have experienced partisan shifts (+13 points) toward the Republican Party between 2012 and 2016.
Demographically, the group is less likely to have graduated from college — only 15 percent have done so. Instead, 61 percent have high school diplomas or less (20 percent say they did not finish high school). They are half as likely as other groups to be employed full time and are the most likely group to be underemployed (35 percent) with 19 percent reporting being unable to work due to a disability. They are also lower income and the most likely group to have incomes below $50,000 a year (56 percent). These differences cannot simply be explained by differences in age. They were not particularly older or younger than other groups, being about as likely as the Staunch Conservatives to be over age 55 (56 percent).
This group is more likely than others to self-identify as a “born again” Christian (45 percent), and most likely to say that religion is “very important” to them (58 percent). But surprisingly, they are also the most likely group to “never” or “seldom” attend church (52 percent). Religion appears to be more a part of their identity rather than their daily life.”