To understand why many of Trump’s supporters respond to his message of making America great again by shutting down our borders and cutting off free trade deals, look at who is supporters are and what’s been happening to their pocket books. (For video clip, click here)
Compared to his principal rivals, Trump’s supporters are disproportionately males, with only a high school education and incomes below $50,000 (which is roughly the level of median family income in America). That is the group of Americans who are doing the worst economically.
As this chart shows, the further down the income scale you go, the worse is the change in incomes between 2006 and 2014 (after adjustment for inflation.) Trump’s supporters are clustered in the left half of this chart. (Americans in the 50th percentile made an average of $53,657 in 2014, down from $56,601 in 2006.) Of course, not everyone who has fared poorly in the last half-dozen years is a Trump supporter; there are plenty of Democrats in this group as well, particularly Americans of color.
A similar picture emerges if you look at changes in earnings based upon education level. Americans with high school educations or less (again, remember that a disproportionate number of Trump supporters are in this group) have seen significant drops in their inflation adjust earnings since 1979. Only Americans with college degrees have seen their earnings rise during this period.