Pittsburgh Blue-Collar Voters Discuss Trump and the 2016 Election

    On June 20, a focus group of 11 Pittsburgh blue-collar and working-class voters was brought together by pollster Peter Hart of Hart Research to discuss the 2016 presidential election. The session was the fifth in the “Voices of the Voters” project for the 2016 election cycle, conducted by Hart for the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

    The group was intentionally weighted towards Donald Trump, with five of the 11 voters saying they would definitely or probably vote for Trump, four saying the same about Hillary Clinton, and one undecided voter who was leaning toward either Trump or Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson.

    While many Republicans have been “wringing their hands or distancing themselves from Trump,” he still remains competitive among these voters, Hart and Corrie Hunt note in their analysis. “As these participants see traditional politicians at fault for our country heading toward imminent disaster, they are willing to take a chance on a candidate that represents something (or anything) different.” Trump’s “harsh criticism of the status quo and big ideas for change” resonates with them. One woman who leans toward Trump explained: “He just makes me feel very comfortable, safe, and I like to listen to him. I think he has common sense. He speaks my language, just the way he is.”

    Many of the voters in the group had positive impressions of current President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, but do not connect with Hillary Clinton and do not feel that “their cause is her cause,” citing a “lack of trustworthiness,” according to Hart’s analysis. The focus group’s discussion showed that “how the blue-collar vote goes will tell us whether election night will be a nail biter or one that allows the Democrats to win the presidency with enough coattails to regain a Democratic majority in the United States Senate.”

    The “Voices of the Voters” project aims to provide a qualitative sense of what voters are thinking and feeling, and what issues are important to average citizens. Sessions for this election cycle have also been conducted in Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, and Colorado. To read an analysis of the session from Peter Hart and Corrie Hunt, click here. See below for a full video of the focus group session.

    Pittsburgh focus group on June 20, 2016

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