-- The gaudy ballroom of the Venetian in Las Vegas was filling up as Wayne Allyn Root, a conservative radio host, warmed up the crowd.
“Hello, rednecks!” he exclaimed.
“I wrote a book called ‘Angry White Male,’” he said. “[Donald] Trump isn’t just a person. He’s an idea. He’s a big, beautiful, gigantic middle finger.”
A middle finger, he said, to those who have ruined the country.
In this sentiment, Root is not alone. Of Trump’s supporters, there are a vocal number who worry about a country that no longer looks like the United States they say they knew or envisioned.
Brian Keith Patterson, a machinist who will turn 40 on Election Day, lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina. With wide eyes and a friendly smile, he said he is a registered Democrat who voted for Barack Obama in hopes that he would heal racial tensions.
But Patterson, who is white, said what occurred has been far from that.
“I’m not afraid to say that I’m in fear for the white man. I’m in fear,” he told ABC News.
“What I’m afraid of seeing is the reverse role — a white man is taking on the position of being the minority. A white man might have a difficult time finding a job because companies need this balancing act, need to have more Hispanics, more African-Americans working. Maybe it’s hard for a white guy to find a job, and that’s been a concern of mine,” Patterson said.
“That’s why I’m voting for Donald Trump is because I have a great concern for that.”
An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted in March looked at the roots of Trump’s populism.
According to the survey, much of Trump’s support stemmed from working-class whites who feel economically disaffected; some 45 percent of his supporters said they’re struggling. But their discontent wasn’t solely with the economy; the study showed that 37 percent of his supporters strongly believed that whites are losing out because of preferences for blacks and Hispanics. Far fewer of the other Republican presidential candidates’ supporters said the same (21 percent of Ted Cruz’s and 15 percent ofMarco Rubio’s and John Kasich’s).
A recent study out of the University of California at Santa Barbara had similar findings. It showed that many white Americans surveyed were more likely to support the Republican presidential candidate if they are reminded that in a quarter-century, people of color will make up a majority of the population.
According to 2015 Census Bureau estimates, people who consider themselves white alone account for 77.1 percent of the population — an increase from 72.4 percent in 2010. Those reporting they are white alone and not Hispanic or Latino were 61.6 percent in 2015, a drop from 63.7 percent in 2010, the data show.
And according to the Census Bureau, the country is expected to become majority minority in 2044.
Trump, who has long battled criticisms of racism and xenophobia, appears to have bolstered these fears, promising to build a wall to prevent Mexicans from illegally entering the country. When he announced his campaign, Trump called some undocumented Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers.
He has also pledged to stop the flow of refugees into the country and at one point proposed barring all foreign Muslims from entering the country.
In front of largely white crowds at rallies, he has painted an apocalyptic picture of life for African-Americans in the inner cities, saying that they have “nothing to lose” by voting for him. And he drew fire for not immediately disavowing supporting from former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.
Trump has denied time and time again that he is pandering to this segment of the Republican base — making frequent appeals to African-Americans and Latinos in his speeches, declaring that he wants to be president for “all Americans” and once saying he is the “least racist person.”
When the KKK’s official newspaper endorsed him this week, the campaign released a statement that read, “Mr. Trump and the campaign denounces hate in any form. This publication is repulsive, and their views do not represent the tens of millions of Americans who are uniting behind our campaign.”
Trump has continued to repeat the call to build the wall and warn of people flooding into the country if his opponent is elected and of the dangers from terrorism posed by the government’s Syrian refugee settlement program.
Patterson said that he has no problem with legal immigration and that he favors diversity. He is quick to insist that his views are “in no way being a supremacist or anything like that.”
William Dow, a white small-business owner in Manchester, New Hampshire, believes America’s strength is in its diversity.
“I think the U.S. has always been a melting pot,” he said, speaking before Trump’s rally there in late October.
But he, too, doesn’t like what he’s seeing.
“Almost, if there were four people in line ... one Spanish, one African-American, one Chinese, the white guy’s got the diploma and everybody else doesn’t, that they would pick somebody else because they have to have an equal-opportunity employer,” he said.
“I think in the ’60s the white man was dominant and everybody else was smaller in numbers. I think now they’ve switched. The American, white American, has traded roles. We’re outnumbered,” he said.
Jayna Knowlton, who lives in a suburb outside Grand Rapids, Michigan, attended a Trump rally there on Monday. Outfitted in a wide-brim cowboy hat, her chants for Trump pierced through the deafening roar of the crowd.
“I want my kids to know freedom,” she said — freedom from political correctness. She said she has been called a racist and a bigot.
Asked whether she believes she is, Knowlton, who is white, responded adamantly, “No, because I don’t want to live amongst them, especially ones that are calling me that.”
Knowlton, 58, sees the changing demographics and said she is “absolutely” aware that whites in America are becoming the minority.
“We’re discriminated against — with jobs, how we’re treated. It’s more of an energy that’s been brought in,” she said. “I have black friends. I love them dearly, but … they keep voting Democrat, and they’re still a mess, and their cities and their streets are still a mess, and when you try to explain to them if nothing changes, nothing changes, they get mad at you and you’re a racist. Whatever! I wasn’t [called] a racist until now.”
Her vote for Trump rests in something deeper than policies or proposals. For her, he is her champion, the champion of all of white America.
As she looks toward his victory, which she is confident will happen, a comfort arises, one that she said she hasn’t felt for a long time. “I want my country back,” she said.
For with Trump’s victory comes liberation, she said.
“Freedom to be,” she said, “to express yourself in any way you want to.”