Friday, January 12, 2018
In the aftermath of the election, political commentary emphasized the divide between the college educated and those with no degrees. The exit polls reported that college graduates cast a majority for Clinton, non-graduates a majority for Trump. White college graduates cast a narrow plurality for Trump, however, as female graduates cast a majority for Clinton and men for Trump. An Economist/YouGov panel study allows a finer breakdown that reveals some additional significant nuances. The common observation that among whites only female college graduates cast a majority for Clinton overlooks an important distinction: Hillary Clinton at best broke even among white women with only four-year degrees; only among postgraduate women do we find majority support for Clinton. Interestingly, despite the attention focused on less-educated whites, the gender gap if anything is largest among those with postgraduate degrees, where men broke evenly or even slightly for Trump. The sobering reality for the Democratic Party is that it did not just have a problem with white working class men in 2016; it appears to have lost the white middle class—men and women—as well, albeit more narrowly.