Trump and Clinton Voters Differ on Who Should Get The Government's Help

The president's supporters don't think the government should try to aid everyone in the country, a HuffPost/YouGov survey finds.

Voters who supported President Donald Trump in last year’s election have a lot of differences from those who supported Hillary Clinton ― including a fundamental, underlying divide over whom the government is designed to serve, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds.

Clinton voters say, 80 percent to 14 percent, that the government “should try to help everyone in the U.S.” Trump voters say, 51 percent to 33 percent, that it “should only try to help the people who deserve it.”

The split appears to be chiefly ideological rather than class-based or even partisan. Trump voters are 37 percentage points likelier than Clinton voters to think only some people in the U.S. deserve help, and self-described conservatives are 35 points likelier than liberals to say the same. 

The difference between Democrats and Republicans, by contrast, is a relatively modest 23 points. And while respondents in households making $100,000 or more each year are more likely than those making less than $50,000 to say the government should help only those who deserve it, the difference between those groups is just 10 percentage points.

The survey didn’t ask Americans to explain what factors made a person deserving of help from the government. (Other recent polling suggests that racial attitudes may, at least subconsciously, play a role in some cases.) But two other questions in the HuffPost/YouGov poll suggest that few respondents consider people similar to themselves to be among the undeserving group.

Clinton voters are equally unlikely to say there’s excessive help being provided either to people like them or to most Americans in general. Just 5 percent say the government does too much for either group.

However, while just 29 percent of Trump voters say the government does too much for people like them, a 59 percent majority say the government does too much for most Americans.

Overall, Americans say by a 2-to-1 margin that the government should try to help everyone. Forty-three percent say the government doesn’t do enough to help most Americans, with 23 percent saying it does too much and 16 percent that it does about the right amount. Nearly half, 48 percent, say the government doesn’t do enough for people like them, with 12 percent saying it does too much and 27 percent that it does about the right amount.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Jan. 20-23 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.