A survey taken before the election shows how Trump supporters' outlook on the future propelled him to victory

One of the main narratives that Democratic leaders and pundits have used to explain Hillary Clinton’s shocking defeat is that President-elect Donald Trump tapped into the belief many Americans have that life isn’t as good as it used to be.


Trump’s campaign slogan, repeated countless times in the last year and a half, was to “make America great again,” suggesting that the nation has lost the greatness it once had.

A Pew Research Center survey of 2,010 Americans taken in August reveals just how far Trump supporters think their country has fallen:

Is past or present better for people like you? Trump, Clinton supporters differ

While 59% of Clinton supporters said life in the US was better today than it was 50 years ago, 81% of Trump supporters said it was worse.

The key phrase in the question is better “for people like you.” Exit polls show Trump captured majorities among white male voters over 40, many of whom have less power and focus than they did 50 years ago as women and minorities have started to gain equal footing.

Not only did Trump supporters (and a majority of people polled overall) think life was worse today than it was in the past, they also thought life would be worse in the future for people like them.

Most Trump supporters say life for next generation will be worse than today

While Clinton supporters thought America was already great and getting greater, more Americans believed it was on the wrong track for them. It stands to reason that such people launched Trump to his stunning victory.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose own bid for the Democratic nomination focused on the plight of working-class Americans, has lamented in the days after the election how Clinton didn’t tap into many Americans’ discontent with the status quo.

“The simple truth — and Mr. Trump tapped into this — is that millions of American are working longer hours for lower wages, they’re worried to death about the future for their children and they want an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 per cent,” Sanders said in a Facebook post last Thursday.

“The Democratic Party has got to make it very clear that it is the party of working people in 50 states in this country, not just in New York and California.”

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