Did the Financially Insecure Secure Donald Trump’s Victory?



In a classic case of Monday-morning (or Wednesday-morning) quarterbacking, many of us tend to seek one simple explanation for why Donald Trump won the recent presidential election. New analysis from some of my colleagues at the Urban Institute shows that the real reasons are more complex and transcend sound bites.

As part of our Opportunity and Ownership Initiative, Diana Elliott and Emma Kalish have assessed ongoing election narratives with some on-the-ground facts and an interactive map. They compare county-by-county elections results with various financial and demographic characteristics of voters. Interestingly, Diana and Emma conclude that financial insecurity did not drive voting preferences.

In fact, Hillary Clinton won just 4 of the 55 counties (or county equivalents) whose residents had the highest average credit scores (720 and above). High credit scores imply bills paid promptly and the type of financial stability that comes with paying off a mortgage over time. Clinton did win the 11 counties with the lowest scores.

Race and education were strong factors: generally speaking, white consumers were more likely to vote for Trump, those with bachelors’ degrees or higher to vote for Clinton.

These results provide information not only about voting patterns but about whether different policy initiatives would help those who feel ignored or left out by government, another part of the post-election debate. Further research might also reveal whether Trump appealed to people living in regions that had suffered some decline in security or population, even if voters’ relative financial standing in November 2016 was average or better.

If you access the interactive map yourself, you can do your own analysis of many interesting—and sometimes surprising—factors and see results for particular counties and regions.




One Comment on “Did the Financially Insecure Secure Donald Trump’s Victory?”

  1. Michael_Bindner says:

    While there are certainly many who blame Obama for not doing more for those of us with underwater mortgages or recent foreclosures, none of them would vote for Trump. Trump voters believe that government should not bail borrowers out. That was the original purpose of the Tea Party. They only later adopted health care as a cause (and now many of them don’t want Trump to touch it, which is why promising to repeal Obamacare did nothing for Romney, nor did proposing catastrophic insurance tax credits do anything for McCain). This election was tribal, although this may be the last hurrah for Trump’s tribe and the idea that electing a billionaire will fix everything.

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