America’s truck drivers tend to be overwhelmingly conservative voters, which should be good news for President Donald Trump — but that support is waning in light of the president’s ongoing trade war.
According to Business Insider, truckers are less enamored with Trump after his 2017 tax cut plan left many of them paying out more in taxes, due to a change in per-diem laws.
In the past, such changes likely would have been bearable, but in recent years, the trucking industry has seen a sharp decline. The result? Truckers experiencing low rates and low pay are unable to absorb the increase in taxes.
Business Insider noted that research groups have found that “the volume of trucks purchased in July fell to its lowest level in nearly 10 years.” Further, the “number of loads needing to be moved in the spot market tumbled by 37% this July compared to one year ago, and rates have fallen by as much as 18%.”
Year-over-year trucking volumes have decreased for eight months straight, according to the Cass Freight Index, largely because manufacturers received fewer orders and there simply was less freight to move.
This brings us to truckers’ second beef with the president: his trade war.
"The truth about the rates being so low is Trump's trade policies," JL Sims, a truck driver, told Business Insider. "Manufacturers are scared. Last month's manufacturing jobs numbers finally began to reflect the reduced production. Everyone looks at the unemployment rate and thinks, mistakenly, that the economy is in great shape. Manufacturing tells the real story."
But experts point to the extraordinarily successful year for trucking in 2018 as the cause of this year’s downturn, essentially viewing it as a market correction.
"We basically put too much capacity out there in the marketplace, and you saw that by the rates dropping very hard,” Cowen's Jason Seidl told Business Insider. “The market can only take so much of that, so it corrects itself. And this is the market just correcting itself."
Regardless of the actual cause, truckers’ perceptions play a significant role when it comes to Trump’s bid for re-election. Nearly 90 percent of owner-operators, who are independent as opposed to employed by a company, are registered voters, Business Insider reported. By comparison, only 78 percent of the general population is registered to vote.
The group is also politically active at the national level.
Though they supported Trump in droves during the last election — about 75 percent of truckers said they planned to vote for him, according to an Overdrive magazine survey from 2016 — even the conservative truck drivers are now unsure whether they can support him again.
"You can not bully your way to a good economy," said Morris Coffman, a truck driver of 35 years.
Coffman told Business Insider how he really feels about the president: "[Trump] is absolutely a moron. His idiotic ideas will tank the economy even further."