Our more recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses voter demographics and the diploma divide.
One of the most significant developments in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election has emerged largely under the radar. From 2016 to 2022, the number of white people without college degrees — the core of Donald Trump’s support — has fallen by 2.1 million.
Over the same period, the number of white people who have graduated from college — an increasingly Democratic constituency — has grown by 13.3 million.
These trends do not bode well for the prospects of Republican candidates, especially Trump. President Biden won whites with college degrees in 2020, 51-48, but Trump won by a landslide, 67-32, among whites without degrees, according to network exit polls.
...From 2006 to 2022, the Public Religion Research Institute found, the white evangelical protestant share of the population fell from 23.0 percent to 13.9 percent. Over the same period, the nonreligious share of the population rose from 16.0 to 26.8 percent.
Ryan Burge, a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University, found that the nonreligious can be broken down into three groups: atheists, who are the most Democratic, voting 85-11 for Biden over Trump; followed by agnostics, 78-18 for Biden; and those Burge calls “nothing in particular,” 63-35 for Biden.
Catalist data confirm a nationwide shift among Latinos in 2020. The Democrats’ overall margin among this group dropped by 18 points relative to 2016. Cubans had the largest shift of 26 points, but Puerto Ricans moved by 18 points to Trump, Dominicans by 16 points and Mexicans by 12 points. An overall weak spot for Democrats was among Latino men who gave Trump a shocking 44 percent of their two-party vote in 2020.
The unusually broad shift raised the question: Could the trend continue? Since then, the 2022 election contained both good and bad omens for Democrats. The good news is that, with the exception of Florida, they did not lose any further ground among Hispanics. The bad news is that they didn’t win back the ground they lost.
Since then, polls consistently find that Hispanic voters prefer Republicans to Democrats on inflation and handling the economy. Nearly all — 86 percent — Hispanics say economic conditions are only fair or poor and about three-quarters say the same thing about their personal financial situation. By 2 to 1 they say President Biden’s policies are hurting, not helping, them and their families. In a just-released 6,000 respondent poll from the Survey Center on American Life (SCAL) on evolving party coalitions, almost two-thirds believe Biden has accomplished not that much or little or nothing during his time in office.
Six years ago,at TNR, John Judis wrote that Democrats cannot count on a nonwhite majority to bring them back into the majority:
Whiteness is not a genetic category, after all; it’s a social and political construct that relies on perception and prejudice. A century ago, Irish, Italians, and Jews were not seen as whites. “This town has 8,000,000 people,” a young Harry Truman wrote his cousin upon visiting New York City in 1918. “7,500,000 of ’em are of Israelish extraction. (400,000 wops and the rest are white people.)” But by the time Truman became president, all those immigrant groups were considered “white.” There’s no reason to imagine that Latinos and Asians won’t follow much the same pattern.
In fact, it’s already happening. In the 2010 Census, 53 percent of Latinos identified as “white,” as did more than half of Asian Americans of mixed parentage. In future generations, those percentages are almost certain to grow. According to a recent Pew study, more than one-quarter of Latinos and Asians marry non-Latinos and non-Asians, and that number will surely continue to climb over the generations.