Exploding the 'uneducated white men' myth of Trump's rise to power
(Photo: by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The myth that only uneducated white men would vote for Donald Trump exploded in a sensational win for the maverick billionaire, a former reality star with no political experience whatsoever.

His resounding victory -- even if Hillary Clinton won the popular vote -- spotlights a wealthier and more diverse coalition of supporters than many Americans thought possible, including educated voters, women and minority voters.

Here is a look at who voted for whom in the biggest political upset in American politics for generations:

- Middle Class and Educated -

Half of Americans who are considered middle class, making $100,000 a year or more, voted for the 70-year-old billionaire according to USA Today's exit polls.

Forty-three percent of people with college degrees backed the Republican, although post-graduates voted overwhelmingly for Clinton, the Democrat, at 58 percent to 35 percent.

"We wanted to send a message that there's too much government ruling our life and that had to stop," said Rolando Chumaceiro, a family doctor who lives in affluent White Plains, New York.

He recognized problems with Trump, questioned the way he spoke and his vulgar remarks about women and but said overall he was the better choice.

"Mrs Clinton comes from the establishment. It's the same old fashioned government. We don't need that anymore," he said.

Lower income voters leaned towards Clinton but their support had eroded since President Barack Obama's election in 2012, perhaps fueled in part by resentment of the high costs associated with Obamacare.

Rural-Urban Divide

Trump's success was rooted in profound dissatisfaction with the status quo -- felt keenly in rural areas and smaller towns far from prosperous cities that voted overwhelmingly for Clinton.

"There is a world outside of the East Coast and the California Coast which nobody wants to think about," said Sam Abrams, professor of political science at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.

"It's the have and have not divide," he said.

In a city-based service and knowledge economy, people in more rural areas are struggling. "When you struggle you get angry... and Trump became the symbol of that anger," said Abrams.

Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin, for example, are states where Trump sealed shock wins. It was the first time Wisconsin went Republican in a presidential election since 2004.

Minorities: it's complicated

White turnout was higher than expected and Trump won more of the traditional Republican vote than Mitt Romney, a Mormon, in 2012.

Latino turnout was at a record high.

While two-thirds voted Clinton, Trump won 29 percent of the demographic compared to Romney's 27 percent in spite of inflammatory remarks about Mexicans and his tough stance on immigration.

The Latino vote is not homogenous, experts say. Cuban Americans backed Trump, others who are socially conservative also supported him.

While a majority of African Americans voted Clinton, she won their vote by a smaller margin than did Obama over Romney in 2008 and 2012.

Asian American, African American and Jewish American supporters at Trump's victory party denied allegations that he was racist or anti-Semitic in any way.

"He created one of the most pro-Israel platforms in the history of the country, this is just crazy to say that he's running anything as anti-Semitic in his campaign," said supporter Aliza Romanoff whose father advised Trump.


Trump may have persistently offended women and been accused of sexual impropriety by at least 12 women, but it didn't cost him the female vote.

American women traditionally lean Democratic, and Clinton won the female vote 54 to 42 percent, about the same as Obama, according to Pew Research Center.

Romney won 44 percent of the women's vote in 2012 and fellow Republican nominee John McCain won 43 percent in 2008.

In Iowa, for example, women without college degrees were evenly split between Clinton and Trump, despite having voted by a majority of 17 points for Obama in 2012, according to The New York Times exit poll.


According to the Pew Research Center, eight in 10 white born-again, evangelical Christians say they voted for Trump compared to 16 percent for Clinton.

This shocked some observers given the twice-divorced Republican's vulgar remarks about groping women and his record as a socially liberal New Yorker who has been accepting of gay and transgender rights.


Obama was propelled into office on a wave of hope and optimism by harnessing the youth vote. But young Americans threw less weight behind the Democratic candidate this time, disappointed in Obama's administration and unenthusiastic about his anointed successor.

Clinton's long-running email scandal, perceptions that she was untrustworthy and her ties to Wall Street damaged the Democrat. Millennials had overwhelmingly favored her challenger Bernie Sanders in the primary.