By Javad Heirannia

‘Trump's support base is complicated to assess’

June 10, 2016 - 14:5

TEHRAN - Gautam Adhikari, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington DC, says it is difficult to assess Donald Trump’s “support base”.

Adhikari tells the Tehran Times that Trump is “attracting wide support from white males, religious conservatives as well as independents some of whom are libertarians.”

However, he says, “Metropolitan America leans towards Democrats.”

Barack Obama launched a coordinated push to unify Democrats against Trump on Thursday, formally endorsing Hillary Clinton for the first time after a conciliatory meeting with her primary opponent Bernie Sanders.

In a rapid sequence of events in Washington that contrasted with renewed rancor among Republicans, Sanders emerged from the Oval Office peace talks with the president to say he was now prepared to meet Clinton and work with her after losing Tuesday’s primary elections.

Following is the full text of the interview with Adhikari:

Q: Which social classes mostly support Democrats in the presidential race?

A: Democrats tend to draw good support from all ideologically liberal and progressive sections of the U.S. electorate: from ethnic minorities and from most immigrants, particularly those who have come into this country after immigration restrictions were eased in 1965. Hillary Clinton seems to be getting a clear majority of women on her side plus almost the entire African-American community as well as significantly wide support from Latino-Americans and Asian-Americans. Her weak spot in the electorate this time is the white male vote.

The Democrats' support base is wide among the economically poorest while the Republicans have traditionally had a distinct edge among those in the richest and upper middle classes. This year it looks like many people with relatively low education -- that is, high school or less -- are flocking to the Republican Party's nominee Donald Trump. Democrats have more support among the college educated and higher.

Q: Which social classes mostly support Trump?

A: Donald Trump's support base is more complicated to assess. Some of it, many say most, during the primary election stage came from those who view the ongoing demographic and cultural changes in America as threatening to their lifestyles. These are people who have reacted very negatively to having President Barack Obama as the nation's first African-American head of state. They are the ones who would like to 'take the country back' in a socio-cultural sense and like Trump's slogan 'Make American Great Again'. But now that Trump is the presumptive nominee of the Republican party, most Republicans including moderates, among those several from the party's top leadership who had earlier seemed totally opposed to him, have come around to supporting him. He is attracting wide support from white males, religious conservatives as well as independents some of whom are libertarians. In the south and the mid-west he is getting a groundswell of support, especially in small towns and rural areas. Metropolitan America leans towards Democrats.

Q: How do you assess the American people’s election behavior until now?

A: This question is difficult to answer in any clear form. A significant section of the voting population seems to be angry and frustrated with the way things are. Whether such angry people form a majority is not clear. Those who find Obama's two terms as president satisfying and the state of a growing economy to continue in the direction of improvement instead of radical change seem to be supporting Clinton. If, however, you are referring to the tone and rhetoric used in this extraordinarily heated and campaign, moderate Americans of both parties are alarmed at what they see as at least a temporary breakdown of civility and a hardening of bitter partisanship in American politics. These would the same people who are nervous about the prospect of a Trump presidency, the precise contour or nature of which is unpredictable at this point.


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