In rural Youngstown, a borough in western Pennsylvania, the entire exterior of a house has been painted with a wraparound mural of the American flag. Flanked by a giant “Trump 2016” sign and a towering metal replica of Donald Trump, this red, white and blue shrine to the presidential candidate—called “Trump House”—is located in Westmoreland County. The county falls in the Rust Belt: a region that was once the industrial heartland of the United States, spanning several north-eastern and mid-western states. Now, the Rust Belt is known for urban decline, abandoned factories and angry voters—many of whom are rooting for Trump.
On the rainy afternoon of 29 September, in a tent outside Trump House, I met one such voter: 29-year-old Rocky Anthony Naples. A fourth-generation steelworker, he has been laid off twice in the six years since he joined the workforce. Before we met in person, he told me over the phone that finding a job had been “sheer hell.”
Donald Trump has managed to alienate almost every sub-group of voters, including Latinos, black people, Muslims and women. But his appeal among one demographic—working-class white people—remains strong. The research and polling agency Gallup found his supporters to be “less educated and more likely to work in blue collar occupations.” In September, a CNN poll measured Trump’s support amongst “whites who do not hold college degrees” at a whopping 68 percent, to the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s 24 percent. This lead holds up even withnon-college white women voters, although less so than with non-college white men