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White voters, education, swing states: The data behind Trump’s win

The data behind Trump's win

The 2016 U.S. presidential election produced an astonishing victory for the insurgent campaign of real estate mogul and reality-TV star Donald Trump. The results confirmed in many cases what observers suspected all along: that Mr. Trump's support was fuelled by less-educated white voters in suburban and rural parts of the country, and that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's strengths lay among the highly educated in big urban centres. But there were also several surprises.

Ms. Clinton, vying to become the first female president and boosted by a recording of Mr. Trump making lewd remarks about women, was unable to galvanize female voters any more than previous Democratic nominees. Mr. Trump's promise to build a wall on the border with Mexico and crack down on immigration was thought to have hurt him among Latino voters, but Ms. Clinton's support in that group declined slightly compared to that for President Barack Obama.

And although the anger that spurred Mr. Trump's rise was often attributed to those left behind in the global economy, his support was highest among middle- and upper-income earners.

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The numbers are from exit polls conducted by Edison Research on behalf of a consortium of U.S. media organizations.

White people may compose a declining share of the U.S. population, but they still make up by far the largest group, and they were key to Mr. Trump's victory. Over all, white people favoured Mr. Trump by a margin of 58 per cent to 37 per cent.

Ms. Clinton dominated with black voters, tallying 88 per cent to Mr. Trump's eight. But it was still a decline compared with the 2008 and 2012 elections, when African-Americans supported Mr. Obama at 95 per cent and 93 per cent respectively, and turned out in very large numbers.

Much was made in the days leading up to the election of a Latino surge in early voting, and given Mr. Trump's aggressive stand on immigration, the expectation was he would be punished at the polls. But Ms. Clinton's 65 per cent share of the Latino vote was lower than Mr. Obama's 71 per cent in 2012.


Given the chance to elect the first female president, U.S. women stuck roughly to their previous party preferences. Women voted for Ms. Clinton at a similar rate to their support for Mr. Obama in 2012. They gave Ms. Clinton a 12-point margin, 53 per cent to 41 per cent. Among her own demographic group, white women, Ms. Clinton was walloped by Mr. Trump 53 per cent to 43 per cent, similar to the 2012 numbers for Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Mr. Trump's distasteful remarks and allegations of inappropriate touching do not seem to have hurt him much with that demographic.


The more often people attend a religious service, the more likely they were to support Mr. Trump. Those who attend once a week or more voted 56 per cent for Mr. Trump, compared with 40 per cent for Ms. Clinton. Those who never attend a service voted Democrat 62 per cent of the time, compared with 31 per cent for Mr. Trump. White evangelicals voted for Mr. Trump at a higher rate, 81 per cent, than they did for Mitt Romney, John McCain or George W. Bush.


The vote laid bare a sharp divide on education. Ms. Clinton fared better among the more highly educated, winning among college graduates and holding a substantial lead among those who had done postgraduate study. Those with high school or less, as well as those with some college, preferred Mr. Trump by healthy margins. According to Pew Research, Mr. Trump's margin among whites without a college degree, 67 per cent to 28 per cent, is the largest since the election of 1980.

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Ms. Clinton fared best among young people, but could not match the excitement generated in previous campaigns by Mr. Obama, or perhaps even her primary challenger Bernie Sanders. At 55 per cent among 18-29-year-olds, she trailed Mr. Obama's 2008 numbers by more than 10 percentage points. Voters from 45 up were solidly for Mr. Trump, but at rates comparable to the results for Mr. Romney in 2012.


One of the popular explanations for Mr. Trump's victory was that it represented a revolt of the economically marginalized. But exit-poll data show that Ms. Clinton had a healthy lead among lower-income voters. Those who earn less than $30,000 – about 17 per cent of voters – opted for Ms. Clinton by a margin of 53 per cent to 41 per cent over Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump, meanwhile, led at all levels of income above $50,000 a year. His margin was largest at the middle-income level, $50,000 to $100,000.


In the crucial state of Ohio, Mr. Trump won thanks in part to a very strong showing among union members, some of whom may have responded to his tough talk on tearing up trade agreements. Those who described themselves as belonging to union households in Ohio, about 23 per cent of voters according to exit polling, opted 52 per cent to 43 per cent for Mr. Trump, a sharp repudiation for their traditional allies in the Democratic party


The divide between urban and rural was a big part of the national result, and in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. In cities larger than 50,000 people, Ms. Clinton won 59 per cent of the vote, while her share declined to 45 per cent in suburbs, and 34 per cent in smaller or rural communities. In Pennsylvania, support levels for Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump were mirror images, as Ms. Clinton had 70 per cent in urban areas, with large tallies in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. But Ms. Clinton was so roundly defeated in rural areas, where Mr. Trump had 71 per cent support, and in suburban districts, that she could not win the state.

PENNSYLVANIA

Electoral votes

gained by winner

20

Erie

Allentown

Harrisburg

Pittsburgh

Philadelphia

PENNSYLVANIA

Electoral votes

gained by winner

20

Erie

Allentown

Harrisburg

Pittsburgh

Philadelphia

PENNSYLVANIA

Electoral votes

gained by winner

20

Erie

Allentown

Harrisburg

Pittsburgh

Philadelphia

PENNSYLVANIA

As of 5:16 a.m. EST

Erie

49%

48%

4%

Allentown

Harrisburg

Pittsburgh

Electoral votes

gained by winner

Philadelphia

20


Well known as an attractive place to retire, Florida's age profile tilted the race toward Mr. Trump. More than one in five voters are over 65, according to exit polling, a group that voted 57 per cent to 40 per cent in favour of Mr. Trump. The youngest group, the 18-24 age bracket, were overwhelmingly Democrat, with 63 per cent opting for Ms. Clinton to 27 per cent for Mr. Trump, but they make up just 10 per cent of electors.


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