WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 18, 2020) – White working-class voters in the Midwest were a critical component of Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016. However, a new poll of 752 white working-class voters released by the BlueGreen Alliance tells the story of a new landscape. The poll focused on white registered voters with less than a four-year college degree in Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin who are not hardline Trump supporters and are therefore persuadable.* The poll found that there is significant opportunity for Joe Biden to earn the support of a critical mass of these voters with a focus on economic recovery, good jobs, and a clean environment.
“Donald Trump is beatable in November and some of the very same voters that helped put him in the White House can help kick him out,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh. “But, Joe Biden has to prove to these voters that he stands with him to earn their votes.”
The poll—conducted by Hart Research in May 2020—found that among this critical segment of white working-class voters, a majority of voters (51%) who didn’t vote in 2016 or voted for a third-party candidate are unlikely to vote for Trump.
“Many of these white working-class voters are disappointed, looking for change, and ultimately persuadable,” said Walsh. “If Joe Biden wants to win in November, he must reach out to these voters—especially those who voted third party or did not vote in 2016—in these key states with messages focused on rebuilding the economy, reviving American manufacturing, and protecting the health of people and communities.”
The majority of respondents believe Donald Trump values the wealthy and big corporations over working families, the poll found. Only one-third of the overall participants in the poll believe Trump is mainly looking out for regular people. Conversely, 52% of those polled say that Joe Biden mainly looks out for regular people, but that number dipped among undecided voters, younger voters, and third-party or non-voters in 2016.
Concerns around Trump’s environmental and worker safety rollbacks were strong. In particular, rollbacks on clean air, clean water, and worker safety gave voters doubts or concerns about supporting Donald Trump. In addition, 55% of voters surveyed said ensuring people have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink was a topic they were very interested in hearing presidential candidates speak about during the campaign, with 85% very or fairly interested.
“Working-class people have serious doubts about Donald Trump but they need more information about his anti-worker, anti-environment track record,” said Walsh. “We see that after informing people of the facts around Donald Trump’s handling of the economy and environment, disapproval of the president grows. Voters are concerned by his rollbacks on protections for clean air and clean water and they aren’t buying the Republican lie that environmental and worker safeguards hurt the economy.”
Economic recovery was the top priority for most voters. The BlueGreen Alliance poll also asked prospective voters to rank the jobs that should be prioritized for rebuilding the economy. Manufacturing jobs and clean energy jobs are critical components of economic recovery and rebuilding the economy, with 49% and 47% respectively rating them as top priorities.
The polling is available at: https://www.bluegreenalliance.org/resources/2020-bluegreen-alliance-polling/
*Hardline Trump supporters are defined as voters who self-identify as strong Republicans who strongly approve of Donald Trump. This group represents approximately 22% of all white registered voters with less than a four-year college degree.