The movement of whites without college degrees into the GOP is decades old. But the trend accelerated during the Obama years. Why? During his presidency, especially his second term, the regional, religious, and cultural differences between whites of varying educational attainment became more acute.
The Republican Party of 2019 is more rural, more un-credentialed, and more supportive of government intervention in the economy than it was before. And it backs President Trump. His approval among Republicans in the Journal / NBC News poll is 84 percent. None of his erstwhile primary challengers earn more than 2 percent support.
The voters who put Trump over the top have not abandoned him. “Some 62 percent of voters approve of Mr. Trump’s job performance in the 450 counties in which Mr. Trump outperformed 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney by 20 points or more,” according to the Journal. “That is up from a job approval rating of 43 percent in those counties during Mr. Trump’s first year in office.” It is also 17 points greater than his overall job approval rating in last month’s Journal / NBC News poll. If Trump’s demeanor and brand of national populism has repelled the educated professionals who inhabit America’s economic, political, and cultural institutions, it has failed to drive away his core supporters. It may even attract them.