The first president in American history to run on an anti-establishment platform, Donald Trump has been able to tap into an intense and largely white, working-class base that is far less likely to support a major party nominee in 2020.
He’s also drawn on populist sentiment in his campaign and his message that he has taken on the establishment and its establishment-friendly policies.
“I’m going to make it clear that the establishment is just the enemy of the American people,” Trump said during his presidential campaign.
“We are going to take on the corrupt establishment.”
That message resonated with a white working- and middle-class majority that was energized by Trump’s victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and who are fed up with the establishment’s policies.
In November, Trump beat Clinton by almost 14 percentage points among voters who said they were most likely to vote in 2020, according to the latest polls.
He also won the white working class by 10 percentage points over Clinton among voters with college degrees, a group that is disproportionately white.
“The white working and middle class is a very important voting bloc,” said Andrew J. Dionne, a professor at American University who has studied Trump’s appeal to that group.
Trump has used that message to appeal to his base, particularly among women, a voting bloc he won with at least 52% of their support in the presidential election.
In an interview, Trump told ABC News that his support among women was about equal to Clinton’s.
“If you look at what they’re saying, they’re very upset with the Clintons, they think she should be impeached,” Trump told host George Stephanopoulos.
“You have people that say, ‘I love my president, I think he’s a great president,’ ” he said.
“They think the Clintons are corrupt, and they’re angry.”
“We’ve got to fix our country,” Trump added.
“But I think we’re going to have to make America great again.”
Trump’s message has been effective among white, college-educated voters, but not among people who are not college-graduated.
Trump’s base is also not a huge bloc among voters without a college degree, according in a recent Pew Research Center poll.
According to the survey, 54% of white working age voters without college degrees are now in favor of Trump’s agenda compared to 36% who favor Clinton’s agenda.
The gap is larger among whites who are older, though that gap has narrowed since November.
A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed Trump’s approval rating among younger voters was a little higher than Clinton’s among voters under 30, and higher than his overall approval among the electorate overall.
While Trump is also drawing support from non-college educated voters, his campaign has emphasized his focus on education.
Trump campaigned on an aggressive plan to increase the number of college-ready students in the United States, but the policies have fallen flat, according a CNN/ORC poll released last month.
The campaign also has struggled to explain its plans to tackle the opioid crisis and to provide additional health care to more people who struggle to afford insurance, according, to a survey of the Trump campaign released in April.
“Trump is trying to make the case that his plan is going to help working people,” said Tad Devine, a senior adviser to the Trump presidential campaign who is white.
In one of the campaign’s first official ads, Trump’s campaign aired a clip of Trump calling for the expansion of the federal government to handle a problem like “the opioid crisis,” the survey found.
The Trump campaign also touted a report from the conservative Washington Examiner that estimated the number at 2.6 million people in the U.S. who need care.
Trump, for his part, said his campaign is focusing on “getting these young people back to work.”
He also said he will make it easier for Americans to apply for college loans, which would help pay for college, and also expand Pell Grants to help low-income students pay for school.
“When people come out of college, they are able to get jobs,” Trump, a billionaire real estate developer and reality TV star, said during a June speech.
“And the middle class of America, the people that we’re trying to help, are able now to get a college education.”
“This is the first time in the history of our country that millions of people have had a chance to have a college diploma, and it’s a big deal,” Trump continued.
“It’s not going to be the last time.
This is going, like, historic.”