Charting Trump’s rise through the decline of the middle class

Within the overall trends of the middle class, there are winners and losers, according to the Pew study. Winners included people older than 65, whose overall economic standing has increased sharply over the past four decades. In 1971, more than half of all Americans ages 65 and older were in the lowest income tier. Today, nearly half qualify as middle-income.

Those with college degrees have remained fairly stable in terms of their percentages in the lower-, middle- and upper-income tiers. Then comes this telling finding from the Pew study: “Those without a bachelor’s degree tumbled down the income tiers, however. Among the various demographic groups examined, adults with no more than a high school diploma lost the most ground economically.”

This is where the report connects directly to what’s happened politically this year. Pair those last findings from the Pew study with what recent polling shows about who supports Trump.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News survey found Trump leading his rivals overall, with 32 percent support among registered Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Among white people with college degrees, he was at 23 percent and led his nearest rival by only four percentage points. Among white people without a college degree, however, his support ballooned to 41 percent — double that of Ben Carson, who was second at 20 percent, and five times the support of Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.), who were tied for third.