Four years ago, right after Mitt Romney lost, I wrote, “Republicans need a new coalition and a new message. The heart of that coalition should be the working class. The message should be populism.”

Well, we got it. The populism wasn’t precisely the populism I had preached—Trump was hardly a libertarian, and he did engage in the racially tinged scapegoating I warned against—but it was populism. He did target the working class. And the early data suggests he got it.

Here are a few very quick ways of looking at Trump’s success among the white working class. First are some exit-poll numbers, and then I’ve dug up some microcosms of the phenomenon.

Exit polls

In Ohio, Trump won those without a college degree by 8 points, while Obama carried that slice of Ohio by 7 points—that’s a 15-point swing. Trump carried two thirds of Pennsylvania’s white non-college men.

Fall River, Mass.

Fall River Massachusetts used to be a textile town. That industry is long gone, and now it’s a run-down low-income white city.

Fall River’s median household income of $33,763 is about one half of the statewide median. It is 87 percent white, and only 13.8 percent of those over age 25 have a bachelor’s degree or more—the statewide number is 40 percent.

White people with below-average income and very few college degrees.

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Romney got only 24 percent while Trump got 36 percent.

Carbondale, Pa.

Carbondale is in Joe Biden country—Lackawanna County—near Scranton. The median income is $32,300. It’s 96 percent white—mostly Irish and Italian. Less than 15% of the town’s adults 25-and-older have a bachelor’s degree or more. Less than six percent have an advanced degree.

Trump won the Carbondale Area school district by 6.5 points. Obama had won it by 28 points. Trump’s 2,451 votes was a 64 percent boost from Romney’s 1,584. Obviously 870 more votes didn’t change Pa. from Blue to Red.

But this appears to have happened across Pa., Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and that made most of the difference. For instance, in Lackawanna Co. as a whole Obama was by 27.3 points four years ago, and Trump lost by only 3.4 points. Losing by 3,000 as opposed to losing by 26,000 is a big deal—a 23,000-vote swing in a loss of 68,000.

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One note: Liberals want to attribute Trump’s win to white racism. One difficulty with that explanation is that many of these voters voted for Obama in 2012 and 2008. It’s a strange “racist vote” that votes for the black Democrat but not the white Democrat.

Timothy P. Carney, The Washington Examiner’s senior political columnist, can be contacted at His column appears Tuesday and Thursday nights on

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