By Manzanita Miller
Two recent polls could upset political assumptions about GOP primary voters going forward. While former President Trump maintains a double-digit lead over prospective GOP challenger Ron DeSantis in several national polls, Trump’s widest lead over DeSantis is with non-white voters. Trump also holds a substantial lead over DeSantis with lower-income voters who make under $50,000 a year and with younger voters under 50.
The average of two recent polls by CNN/SSRS and Quinnipiac University shows Trump’s lead over DeSantis widens substantially among non-white Republicans, who make up a larger share of low-income voters than whites do.
Trump is ahead of DeSantis by approximately 29 percentage points (55% to 26%) with voters of color but ahead by just one percentage point – and well within the margin of error – with white GOP primary voters.
Minority GOP primary voters are also more likely than whites to say it is more important for their GOP primary pick to share their values. By a two-to one margin minority GOP primary voters say it is more important for their GOP primary pick to share their values than to be “capable of beating Joe Biden.” A full 80% of minority GOP primary voters also say that it is “essential” that whoever is nominated for president in 2024 restores the policies of the Trump Administration.
Lower income voters continue to be key Trump supporters, while higher income voters favor DeSantis in polls, but CNN’s data shows non-white Republicans are more likely to fall into the lower-income group.
For instance, Trump leads DeSantis by 22 points among voters earning less than $50,000, but trails DeSantis by 13 points with those earning $50,000 or more. However, 45% of non-white Republicans fall into the group earning less than $50,000 while just 28% of White Republicans do. Race and class are both converging to create a block of working-class voters that skews heavily pro-Trump.
Young voters also favor Trump while older voters favor DeSantis, something Americans for Limited Government Foundation (ALGF) pointed out two weeks ago. Trump leads DeSantis by 18 percentage points with voters under 50, but trails DeSantis by 9 points for voters 50 to 64.
The minority shift toward Trump is not new. Latinos in particular have seen a significant rise in Trump support in recent months, with YouGov survey data showing the share of Latinos who say Trump should run again is up 14 points since he left office going from 22% to 36% today. Meanwhile, just 28% of Latinos want a Biden re-run and a solid 57% say Biden should not run again.
Looking back at the 2020 election, Black and Hispanic voters saw substantial shifts toward the right. Although Latinos still favored Biden in the 2020 presidential election, Trump’s share of the Hispanic vote rose ten percentage points from 28% in 2016 to 38% in 2020.
Trump also netted 12% of Black Americans nationwide, up from 8% in 2016. His most substantial gain was among Black men, 18% of whom supported Trump in 2020 up from 13% in 2016. Though his share of the Black female vote was small, it doubled from 4% in 2016 to 8% in 2020.
Minority voters have still favored Democrats in recent elections, but non-college-educated minorities are beginning to move to the right much like non-college whites. According to exit polls, the Democratic Party’s share of the non-college minority vote dropped eleven points between 2008 and 2020.
While Biden did win non-college minorities by 46 points in 2020, Trump increased his share of their vote by six points between 2016 and 2020. In 2016, Trump won 20% of the non-college minority vote and in 2020 he won 26%.
Non-college minorities also moved eight points to the right between the 2018 and 2022 midterm elections. In the 2018 midterms Democrats won minorities without a college degree by 76% to 22%. In the 2022 midterms Democrats won this block by 68% to 28%.
The midterms also showed a substantial shift toward the right among non-white men between 2018 and 2022. Democrats lost 21 points with Latino men between the two most recent midterm elections, going from winning them by 29 points in 2018 to 8 points in 2022.
Democrats also lost 14 points with Latino women between 2018 and 2022. Democrats lost 11 points with Black men, who supported Democrats by 76 points in 2018 and 65 points in 2022. Black women supported Democrats by 7 points less last year as well.
While education is growing among minorities, minorities without a college degree make up a substantial share of the electorate. In the 2022 midterms, minorities without a degree made up nearly a fifth of the electorate (18%) while those with one made up just 9%.
As ALGF pointed out last month, early polling shows Trump leads DeSantis on issues central to Latino voters including economic issues and border security. By a greater than two-to-one margin, Americans say they trust Trump more than DeSantis to handle the economy, taxes and government spending, foreign policy, and immigration.
Polls also show younger voters, who are more likely to fall into lower-income profiles largely prefer Trump to DeSantis. Over half of voters eighteen to twenty-nine (51%) have a very or somewhat favorable view of Trump, while just 43% have a very or somewhat favorable view of DeSantis. Voters over 65 are the opposite, with 37% saying they have a very or somewhat favorable view of Trump while 42% say they have a favorable view of DeSantis.
In the Republican party, as well as in the Democrat party, class is becoming a more divisive variable than almost any other metric. Lower income and lower educated voters prefer the GOP regardless of race, and within the Republican Party these voters gravitate toward former President Trump’s populist platform over DeSantis’ more conventional GOP agenda.
Manzanita Miller is an associate analyst at Americans for Limited Government Research Foundation.
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