The white working class in Ohio is ready to dump Trump and his loyalists, despite them electing him to the presidency just two years ago.
The white working class made up an essential piece of Trump’s election. Recruiting union households to his cause was a centerpiece of his 2016 strategy, targeting veterans and displaced factory workers with messaging designed to woo them toward Republican votes. And it worked.
Now half of the union households that voted for Trump are voting Democrat in key Ohio races, according to the AFL-CIO. 49.9 percent of Trump’s union-affiliated voters in the Buckeye State will send Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) back to Washington and 51.4 percent will vote for former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief Richard Cordray (D) for governor.
“Things aren’t changing for the better like they thought would happen,” said Ohio AFL-CIO president Tim Burga. “Real wages are not keeping pace with inflation. We haven’t replaced the well-paying manufacturing jobs that we lost.”
A real impact on union households comes from President Trump’s trade wars. Ohio is one of the worst-hit states by Trump’s trade policies — especially farmers, who are committing suicide at unprecedented rates because of the financial crunch caused by the trade wars. Between unions and farmers, the Trump coalition in Ohio is in full revolt.
Ohio is a solid barometer in this. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that the national trend among the white working class is a slide away from Trump. And while the trade war is hitting that community hard, it isn’t their only objection to Trump. Only 19 percent of the white working class felt the Trump tax cuts were a good idea.
The senatorial and gubernatorial races in Ohio are some of the tightest in the country, and Burga said that Sen. Brown’s opponent, Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), defending Trump’s xenophobia hasn’t landed well in Ohio.
A special election that should’ve never been contentious earlier this year in a deep-red district in southern Ohio is yet another portent of what may be on the horizon for Ohio Republicans Tuesday, as the white working class sours on Trumpism.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.