ANALYSIS: New poll shows Republicans becoming the party of blue-collar Americans

A poll by NBC News has found that the number of blue collar workers who identify as Republican has increased by 12 points in the last decade whilst at the same time the number of those who identify as Democrats has fallen by 8 points. 

Donald Trump’s entrance into politics back in 2016 has changed national politics for the foreseeable future and the figures mentioned above are perhaps one of the most important political shifts to have happened because of the impacts it could have on both parties. Firstly, since the days of FDR, democratic presidential nominees have traditionally relied on blue collar support to act as the foundation for their road to the White House. In 1992, for example, there were 860 counties where at least 25% of the working population was employed in manufacturing. Democrat Bill Clinton won 49% of those counties. By 2016, manufacturers employed at least a quarter of the workforce in only 320 counties. 95% of them went for Donald Trump. The shift of manufacturing from a Democratic stronghold to a Republican one is a major force remaking the two parties.

Republican support among other racial groups has also increased. In the 2020 election, Trump won the largest share of non-white votes than any republican since 1960. Among black blue collar workers the republicans have increased their support to 12% up from 9% in 2016, whilst these numbers may be small they are still significant considering the difficulty the republican party has had in cultivating support among black voters. Support among Hispanic blue collar workers has increased significantly from 24% in 2016 to 36% in 2020, an impressive 13 point gain. The shift has already had political ramifications by narrowing democratic leads in places like Miami-Dade and Starr counties where Biden only beat Trump by five points down, from Hillary Clinton’s 60 point lead, that’s a 55-point swing in a county that’s 95% Hispanic.

These changes clearly show that the GOP is making considerable gains among blue collar workers and that the party is becoming increasingly reliant on this demographic group for electoral success. One of the factors that have influenced the shift seems to be Trump’s conservative populist policies such as tax cuts and deregulation coupled with support for infrastructure spending, cracking down on immigration, and replacing free trade with “fair” trade. What remains to be seen is whether the GOP will stick with Trump’s policies or revert back to a form of socially moderate and fiscally responsible conservatism.




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