How Donald Trump and Joe Biden compare among working class Americans

Linley SandersData Journalist
September 08, 2020, 7:16 PM UTC

As President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden seek to win over union leaders and working-class people in key toss-up states, the Economist/YouGov Poll shows that Biden holds the edge as the presidential candidate who “cares about the needs and problems of working men and women.”

Most Americans (59%) believe Biden cares about the issues facing working class Americans. They are torn about whether the incumbent president cares as much. Half (49%) say President Trump cares about working people — half (51%) say he doesn’t care much or at all. Both candidates are bolstered by their own party members: about two-thirds of Republicans (64%) say that Trump cares a lot about working class people, and most Democrats (56%) say Biden does. 

But party bases may not matter as much as the perceptions from low-income households or union households, which are commonly seen as blue-collar individuals. The Economist/YouGov Poll indicates that Biden holds the advantage with union families and those in lower income households as the candidate to care about working people.

Three in five (60%) Americans living in union households — defined as the panelist or someone in their household belonging to a labor union — say Biden cares about working men and women. Just two in five (40%) individuals in a union household say Trump cares about working class people. Individuals in union households are also more likely to favor Biden in a trial heat (62% vs 29%). 

Most Americans with a family income under $50,000 a year (58%) believe Biden cares about working people, compared to about half (48%) who say this about Trump. In a trial heat, those with a family income under $50,000 favor Biden (53%) over Trump (35%).

While Biden is seen as a more caring candidate for working class people than President Trump, Americans are split on which major political party most benefits ordinary Americans. About two in five (45%) Americans say the Democratic Party looks out for the needs of regular people compared to a similar number (41%) who say the Republican Party does. 

While Republicans believe their party serves ordinary people (87%) and Democrats believe their party does (82%), political Independents give the edge to the Republican Party (15%) over the Democratic Party (7%) for doing an “excellent” job in caring about ordinary people. 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll 

Related: Was it the worst summer ever? Despite coronavirus, most Americans say no 

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between August 30 - September 1, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.5% for the overall sample.  

Image: Getty