White Americans without college degrees helped propel Donald Trump to an upset victory in the 2016 election and have been one of his most supportive subgroups during his presidency. The group's support for Trump may largely reflect their political leanings as much as their affinity for Trump, as currently, 59% of non-college whites identify as Republicans or say they are independents who lean toward the Republican Party.
But non-college-educated whites were firmly aligned with the GOP well before Trump announced his presidential candidacy on June 16, 2015. In 2014, 54% of whites without college degrees identified as Republicans or were Republican-leaning independents, compared with 34% who were Democrats or Democratic leaners.
In fact, white college nongraduates have preferred the GOP to the Democratic Party for most of the past two decades, with at least a slight Republican advantage in affiliation for 15 of the past 20 years.
.At the same time that non-college whites' attachment to the GOP has grown, there has been a shift in the political allegiance of whites with college degrees toward the Democratic Party. Since the 2016 presidential election year, white college graduates have gone from being evenly divided in their political preferences to preferring the Democratic Party by double-digit margins in 2018 (52% to 42%) and 2019 (54% to 41%).