Max Ehrenfreund and Jeff Guo in The Washington Post:
According to this new analysis, those who view Trump favorably have not been disproportionately affected by foreign trade or immigration, compared with people with unfavorable views of the Republican presidential nominee. The results suggest that his supporters, on average, do not have lower incomes than other Americans, nor are they more likely to be unemployed.
Yet while Trump's supporters might be comparatively well off themselves, they come from places where their neighbors endure other forms of hardship. In their communities, white residents are dying younger, and it is harder for young people who grow up poor to get ahead.
The Gallup analysis is the most comprehensive statistical profile of Trump's supporters so far. Jonathan Rothwell, the economist at Gallup who conducted the analysis, sorted the respondents by their Zip code and then compared those findings with a host of other data from a variety of sources. After statistically controlling factors such as education, age and gender, Rothwell was able to determine which traits distinguished those who favored Trump from those who did not, even among people who appeared to be similar in other respects.
Rothwell conducted this kind of analysis not only among the broad group of Americans polled by Gallup. He was also able to focus specifically on white respondents, and even just on white Republicans. In general, his results were the same regardless of the group analyzed.
Rothwell's research includes far more data than past statistical studies of Trump. It also provides a detailed view not only of the people who support him but also of the places where they live. Academics and other analysts will continue to study the Trump phenomenon in months and years to come, and may, of course, reach different explanations.
This research leaves some mysteries unsolved. Something is afflicting the places where Trump's supporters live, but Trump's supporters do not exhibit more severe economic distress than do those who view him unfavorably. Perhaps, Rothwell suggests, Trump's supporters are concerned less about themselves than about how the community's children are faring. Whatever it is, competition from migrant labor or the decline of factory work appear to be inadequate explanations.