Meditations on

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Why white, college-educated voters don't understand the 2016 election

I'm going to posit a radical suggestion, building off my previous post about the effects of modern media, and factoring in my own observations.

As a white dude with a college degree who's fully immersed in the world of social media, I'm going to suggest that we white folk with college degrees are totally out of touch with the majority of the United States.

Most of you are probably with me so far, after all acknowledging "white privilege" and being out of touch with the experience of people of color within the country is a pretty popular thing to do these days. Now I'm going to clarify and go a step further, I think we white folk with college degrees are also largely out of touch with white people who don't have a college degree.

This is pretty popular as well, the one group that modern political correctness allows bigotry towards is working class white people. Many people in my sphere of the world (college-educated white folk who love to express opinions on social media) would be proud to be disassociated with their working class cousins who hold "deplorable" views.

But here's the ramification of that, it means that people in my sphere do not understand what is happening in the 2016 election or the reality of how politics in the United States are shifting in a permanent way.

Let's start with this handy chart, which I believe is going to shock the vast majority of fellow college-educated white people who see it:

There is so much here that stands in stark contrast to the prevailing narratives about elections these days. One thing that I think will surprise a lot of people is that Romney won college-educated white voters and they were his primary base of support. While Republicans count on working-class whites to win states in the South (and there Romney won their support), northern working class whites saw him as an aloof, elitist that wouldn't look out for their interests. So he failed to win important battleground states like Ohio or anywhere else in the Rust Belt. Nor did he win Florida, which is only partly a Southern state.

Another fact here that will probably shock people is that the white working class people largely seen as being racist and stupid were the biggest part of the Obama coalition. Yes Obama did exceptionally well with people of color and won minority groups by massive margins, yes Obama was able to drive exceptional turnout from his fellow black Americans. However, without that positive margin with working class white voters, he loses.

This also gives lie to the notion that the key to Republican victory in the future is to try and take support away from the Democrats by picking off minority voters through measures like increased immigration or amnesty for illegal immigrants from Mexico. Math should make it obvious how disastrous that would be for the GOP as they would be increasing the size of a group that's heavily predisposed to vote against their policies.

As I've been noting, the obvious path to victory for Republicans is to consolidate support from white voters by being a party that looks out for white, working class people. That used to be how Democrats saw the path to winning elections in the pre-Obama era, it's how they won in the Obama era, and it's what Trump is doing right now with measures like this.

Now thus far Trump has been winning working class white voters by massive margins (as many as 65%!) while Clinton has been flipping around college-educated whites and is on pace to win more of them than Romney did...which makes for a pretty even race with Clinton ahead thanks to massive margins with minority voters.

Of course now that Clinton's health has officially been made a significant part of the campaign there's a chance that she'll lose some of that margin with college-educated voters, perhaps with some of the Romney folk joining with Trump, or perhaps she'll just fail to get the kind of minority turnout to make her margins there strong enough to win.

But many of us white, college-educated voters would never even began to guess that any of this could be the case from our social media timelines. You see, social media teaches us that the world is all about me, but in reality it's not.

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