While Donald Trump heralds his popularity among working-class white voters, he may be losing the GOP’s decades-long grip on another important demographic — or so this poll posits. Bloomberg Politics did a deep dive on college-educated white voters, a demo Mitt Romney won by double digits four years ago, and finds Hillary Clinton far ahead this time around. But is this an outlier? It might just be:
White voters with at least a college degree—a group that represented more than a third of the 2012 electorate—back Clinton over Trump 48 percent to 37 percent, the latest Purple Slice online poll for Bloomberg Politics shows. Romney won that group by 14 percentage points, according to exit polls.
Among all college-educated likely voters, including those with post-graduate degrees, Clinton leads 54 percent to 32 percent, a much bigger margin than President Barack Obama’s 2-point advantage with a group that represented 47 percent of the electorate in 2012. Among voters with just a college degree and no post-graduate degree, another subgroup Romney won in 2012, Clinton is ahead 48 percent to 37 percent.
Let’s take this at face value for the moment. That’s a 26-point flip in the gap among whites, and a 24-point shift among the whole college-educated demo. It doesn’t improve much in a four-way race, either. Hillary leads in that configuration 45/27. Surprisingly, Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson only gets 10% of the vote in this demographic. None of this seems to fit the race thus far, but …
Part of the problem for Trump in this demo is the disparity in favorability between the two candidates. In polling for the whole spectrum of voters, Trump and Clinton usually fare similarly on favorability, but not here. Hillary’s underwater at 45/53, but Trump has nearly sunk to the bottom of the pool at 26/73. That’s a lot of dislike to overcome, and perhaps Trump might be over-performing a bit to get to 32%. Again, though, this doesn’t appear to fit other polling.
Some of the responses suggest that the phenomenon might not be all Trump, however. For instance, Barack Obama gets a +14 approval rating at 53/39 among all college-educated likely voters; he won that demo by two points in 2012. (Crosstabs were not available on the questions.) It’s certainly possible that the entire demo, and that of the subgroup for white voters, has drifted to the Left.
How important is this demographic? College graduates accounted for 47% of the vote in 2012, up from 44% in 2008, and one would presume that white voters make up a significant percentage of that demo, if not a large majority of it. If this large shift accurately represents the current state of the electorate, it would be a very big deal.
That’s a mighty big if. Other polls, such as the recent IBD/TIPP poll, puts Hillary up four overall but Trump doing much better than Bloomberg when it comes to these demos. Trump trails by 12 among those with college degrees 36/48, but leads by seven among those with “some college” education (44/37) and by five among those with only a high-school education (46/41).
Or take a look at the most recent Fox poll for another look. The poll shows Hillary up overall by six points, but only leading Trump by three among those with college degrees (41/38) — and oddly, trouncing him among those with no college degree, 46/38. Quinnipiac’s survey in late June had Hillary up two points, but leading among college-degree voters by six points while trailing by the same amount with those lacking college degrees.
This Bloomberg survey looks very much like an outlier at the moment. That doesn’t make it false, but it does mean that one should take it with a large grain of salt rather than hitting the panic button.
Update: FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten sees the same trend that Bloomberg’s poll spots, if not to the same amplitude:
While Trump is outperforming your run-of-the-mill Republican among whites without a college degree, he’s underperforming among white voters with a college degree. In fact, he is on a track to lose white college graduates.
That’s really unusual for a Republican, and it means that among white voters overall, he’s probably not holding a winning hand.
If you look at sevenliveinterviewpollstakensinceTrump wrapped up the nomination in May, he has trailed among whites with a college degree by an average of 6 percentage points. The same polls have him losing among the overall electorate by an average of 5 percentage points. (That’s about wherethe race stands now.)
Only one poll in the past two months showed Trump with a lead in this demo — the WaPo/ABC poll in mid-May, where he had a +1. (Hat tip to Karl on this.)