The Voters Who Gave Trump the White House

November 9, 2016

Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in part by building a coalition of voters who had not supported Republican candidates as enthusiastically in the past. Based on election results as of 7 a.m. Wednesday EST, Bloomberg analyzed county-level U.S. Census data to make sense of the places where Trump secured his most critical victories.

White Voters Chose Trump Over Clinton

Trump was able to pull out tight victories in many swing states largely on his strength, and Clinton's weakness, among white voters. Trump beat Clinton 62 to 33 in counties that are at least 85 percent white. It was particularly damaging to Clinton's chances that she couldn't come closer to matching Obama's total in 2012, when he won 41 percent of that vote. So even though Clinton actually did better than Obama in counties where at least 60 percent of the population is nonwhite, it was rarely enough to close her gap with white voters.

Trump Ran Up Huge Margins in Middle Class Areas

Trump delivered big vote totals in counties where the median income is between $25,000 and $30,000 a year. He received 52 percent of the vote in those counties, beating Clinton by nine points. Barack Obama won those counties by one point four years ago. Clinton did well in wealthier counties, but there simply weren't enough votes in those counties to match Trump's strength among less-affluent voters.

Trump Counties Have More Voters Who are U.S.-Born

About 1 in every 7 Americans were born outside the U.S., but there are still large swaths of the country where 97 percent or more of the population was born in America. In these areas, Trump outperformed Clinton 65 percent to 30 percent — a 7 percentage-point improvement over Romney in 2012.

Trump Ruled in Rural America

Democratic voters are often clustered in cities, and Clinton slightly improved upon Obama's 2012 performance in counties with more than 1 million people. But that didn't matter— the rural vote came out in force for Trump. Clinton received less than 30 percent of the vote in counties with less than 20,000 people.

Trump's Best Counties Tended to be the Least Educated

It shouldn't be surprising that Clinton did well in the most educated counties, which are often urban areas and college towns. She won 55 percent of the vote in counties where at least 40 percent of the population has a college degree. But that actually lagged Obama's performance from four years ago. Trump more than made up for that margin in the least-educated areas, winning 7 in 10 votes in counties where less than 20 percent of the population has a degree. That's a nine-point improvement over Mitt Romney's performance with that group.

Trump Ran Away With the "American" Vote

When asked by the Census to describe their heritage, about 1 in 3 Americans say German, Irish or English, the three most common ancestries in the U.S. But 22 million describe their ancestry as "American"— and Trump won big, 70 to 27, in counties where at least 20 percent of residentsdescribe themselves that way.