When Donald Trump famously declared, “I love the poorly educated” during his 2016 campaign, it was obvious that he was taking a much more populist (or rather, pseudo-populist) approach than Republican presidential candidates were typically known for. And white males without college degrees continue to be a key part of the president’s base. But Washington Post columnist Aaron Blake, analyzing an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Monday, stresses that when Trump is up against a “generic 2020 Democrat,” he finds himself struggling with non-college educated white women.
“The story is not that Trump is struggling because he’s losing white women,” Blake asserts. “The story is that he’s struggling because he’s losing ground among another much-heralded demographic: less-educated whites.”
The “less educated whites” Blake is specifically referring to are white women without college degrees. The NBC/WSJ poll finds that Trump’s performance is especially bad among college educated white women: when up against a generic Democrat in 2020, Trump only wins 30% of white women with college degrees — compared to 63% for the generic Democrat. But Trump, Blake stresses, doesn’t do well among high school-educated white women either: among white women without college degrees, 43% of the vote goes to Trump — while 49% goes to the generic Democrat.
The majority of white men without college degrees, however, still favor Trump, who enjoys 67% in the NBC/WSJ poll compared to only 22% support for the generic Democrat.
“The first thing to emphasize about the NBC/WSJ poll is that generic polling is only so useful,” Blake cautions. “When you pit an incumbent against a generic candidate, it allows respondents to imagine whomever they want in that role. Actual candidates have warts. But even accounting for that, the NBC/WSJ poll showed white women departing Trump significantly more than white men.”
In the NBC/WSJ poll, 40% will definitely/probably vote for Trump and 52% definitely/probably for a Dem. Among whites:
White men/ college+
— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) August 19, 2019ADVERTISEMENT
Blake goes on to say that in a different poll, recently conducted by Fox News, Trump’s popularity among college women without college degrees is weaker than it was in 2016.
“It’s fair to ask whether working-class whites and ‘the poorly educated’ are going to deliver Trump another victory,” Blake asserts. “It could be an even bigger subplot than the gender gap.”