It’s easy to claim Donald Trump was elected because he “appeal[ed] to the bigotry of his supporters,” and many have done so. But it’s simply not true, writes David Paul Kuhn in the New York Times. About one in five voters did not view Trump or Hillary Clinton favorably, but more of them voted for Trump than Clinton. One-fifth of voters said they “somewhat” disapproved of Trump’s treatment of women, but 75% of those voters voted for him anyway. And before the election, 51% of white working-class voters in one poll said they didn’t think Trump had “a sense of decency,” ranking Clinton higher in that regard—yet Trump won the white working-class vote over Clinton.
The truth is that Trump won despite what voters saw as unsavory views and comments, not because of those views and comments, Kuhn writes. Voters believed Trump was the candidate more likely to fight for the issues they cared about—and no, deporting illegal immigrants isn’t necessarily one of those issues (50% of Trump voters believe illegal immigrants currently working in the US should be offered a chance to stay). Rather, Trump supporters voted for him as a vote against a “status quo” that has only hurt them, not benefited them. “Yet the Trump coalition continues to be branded as white backlash.”