Four years ago, in the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning election win, we spent a lot of time thinking about the intersection of college and America’s partisan divides — divides that suddenly were feeling starker than ever.
The exit polls showed that Trump took two-thirds of the non-college-educated white vote and that he beat Hillary Clinton by an eight-point margin among all voters without a college degree. College graduates, meanwhile, favored Clinton by a nine-point margin.
“The Republican nominee,” Jack wrote in 2016, “rode a rising wave of resentment toward the elitism and insularity that higher education is often thought to represent.”
Now, here in 2020, those divides have become chasms. And that resentment seems only to have deepened.
It’s hard to remember, but it wasn’t always this way.
Back in 1996, when Bill Clinton was running for re-election, about half of Democratic voters had never been to college, according to the Pew Research Center
. Now, barely more than one-quarter haven’t.
And that year it was Republicans, not Democrats, who were more likely to have a college degree. In 1996, 27 percent of Republican voters had a college degree, compared with 22 percent of Democratic voters.
The reverse is true now: 41 percent of voters who identify with the Democratic party or lean toward it have a college degree compared with 30 percent of voters who identify with the Republican party or lean toward it.