One factor driving this is that Biden looks to be doing better than Clinton among white voters without a college degree, a voting bloc that made up close to half of the overall electorate in 2016 and forms a majority of the population in key swing states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.3 While Clinton lost this group by more than 20 points four years ago, Biden is behind by just 12 points in UCLA Nationscape’s polling. This isn’t entirely a surprise: We saw some signs of Biden’s strength with non-college whites in the 2020 Democratic primary, as he did better than Clinton in counties that had larger shares of white Americans without a college degree. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why we’re seeing this, though. One possible explanation is that as an older white man, Biden just resonates more with these voters than Clinton did in 2016, especially considering the role sexism and racism played in voter attitudes in 2016. But it’s also possible that some of these voters are just turned off by Trump after four years with him in the White House.
Take white women. They backed Trump over Clinton in 2016 but were split pretty evenly between the two parties in the 2018 midterms. And now they favor Biden by 6 points in UCLA Nationscape polling, which would be around a 15-point swing toward the Democrats compared to what CCES found for the 2016 race. Trump has also taken a major hit among older white voters. In 2016, he won white voters age 45 or older by more than 20 points, but according to UCLA Nationscape polling, he now leads by only 4 points.
Trump isn’t losing ground among all white voters, though. White men, for instance, look likely to back Trump by around 20 points again. And Trump is also making inroads with college-educated white voters.