The usual explanation of why Donald Trump did well among less educated ("working class") white voters was that they are profoundly discontented and thought that he might help them with their problems. I don't think that this fits the facts very well. First, people are not all that discontented with the state of society, as distinct from politics. Second, people did not see Trump as particularly concerned with "people like you" (he trailed Clinton in that respect).* I suspect that the explanation is that a style of tough talk and not caring if you offend people is, and probably always has been, more popular among less educated people (and also among men)--they are more likely to see it as refreshing and honest rather than as evidence of unfitness.
I looked for questions about the qualities or behavior that people wanted or expected in a president, and to my surprise found only one relevant survey. None of the questions directly involved the issue I was concerned with, but I thought they were interesting in their own right. The introduction was:
HERE IS A SERIES ON YOUR MENTAL IMAGE OF THE IDEAL
I’D LIKE YOU TO PICTURE IN YOUR MIND THE IDEAL PRESIDENT
OF THE UNITED STATES:
The questions were:
WHAT WOULD BE THE IDEAL AGE FOR HIM TO BE ELECTED PRESIDENT?
The median was 50. The most popular were 50 (32%), 45 (20%), and 55 (12%). Only about 10% said 56 or older.
WOULD IT BE VERY IMPORTANT THAT HE BE A FAMILY MAN, OR NOT SO IMPORTANT?
74% very Important
WOULD IT BE VERY IMPORTANT THAT HE HAS A COLLEGE
EDUCATION, OR NOT SO IMPORTANT?
85% very important
WOULD IT BE VERY IMPORTANT THAT HE ATTEND RELIGIOUS
SERVICE REGULARLY, OR NOT SO IMPORTANT?
83% very important
WOULD IT BE VERY IMPORTANT THAT HE BE A SCHOLARLY MAN,
OR NOT SO IMPORTANT?
66% very important
WOULD IT BE VERY IMPORTANT THAT HE BE EXPERIENCED IN
POLITICS, OR NOT SO IMPORTANT?
80% very important
WOULD IT BE VERY IMPORTANT THAT HE BE DIGNIFIED IN
APPEARANCE, OR NOT SO IMPORTANT?
73% very important
WOULD IT BE VERY IMPORTANT THAT HE STICK TO THE POLICIES
OF HIS PARTY, OR NOT SO IMPORTANT?
44% very important
Having a college education was the one that was most widely seen as important, even ahead of attending religious services.** People who had less education were somewhat more likely to see it as very important.
It would be interesting to repeat this survey now (of course, it would need a change to gender-neutral language).
*I haven't broken these data down by education; I hope to do that in the future.
**Harry Truman did not have a college degree, and in fact never attended an academic college (he attended a "business college" for a year after high school). He was the last president without a college degree. In thinking about this post, it occurred to me that his seven predecessors also had college degrees, six of them from elite institutions (Harvard for both Roosevelts, Yale for Taft, Princeton for Wilson, Stanford for Hoover, and Amherst for Coolidge).