Almost exactly eight years ago, I argued that Democrats were in deep danger because 2010 could be the “Year of the Angry White Senior.” The premise was simple: Midterm elections had always skewed towards older voters, but never before had there been such a generational divide. In 2008, Barack Obama carried voters 18 to 29 by 34 percentage points but lost seniors by 8 points — a whopping 42-point gulf. Sure enough, Democrats’ young base stayed home in the midterms, and they lost 63 House seats.
Eight years later, there’s an analogous dynamic working the opposite way. Midterms have always skewed towards college-educated voters, but never before has there been such an educational divide, particularly among whites. In 2016, exit polls found that Donald Trump carried white voters with a college degree by just 3 percentage points, but won whites without a college degree by 37 points — a massive 34-point gap. By contrast, this gap was just 14 points in 2008.