We think we know Trump Nation, perhaps from polls that show it is older and whiter, less affluent and less educated. Its denizens are not as conservative as most Republicans, and not as politically involved. And they are famously angry — with Washington, Barack Obama and political correctness.
“We’re gonna be the smart people,’’ Donald Trump told his supporters after winning the Nevada presidential caucus. “We’re not gonna be the people that get pushed around.”
But Trump Nation is more than a demographic or an attitude. To get beyond the clichés, the USA TODAY NETWORK interviewed scores of Trump supporters, some in every state, for a more nuanced understanding of who they are and why they support such an unconventional and often contradictory candidate.
It’s as much because of who they are as who he is.
For many of these Americans, voting this November will be deeply personal. Trump has aroused something inside them — often anger, frustration and fear, but also hope. Two words that recurred in interviews with his supporters were “country” and “jobs.”
In Trump, some see themselves. “Donald Trump is not politically correct, and I am not politically correct,’’ said Bill Miller, 59, of Dover, N.J.
Others see themselves as they wish they were. Trump, said Aaron Wilson, a 34-year-old New Harmony, Ind., real estate agent and auctioneer, is “saying the things that a lot of people want to say, but they can’t.’’
The people of Trump Nation are ones who fly the flag, say the pledge, wish you Merry Christmas, maybe even if they don’t know whether you observe Christmas. They drive the trucks, man the sales counters, fix the plumbing. Manage billions.