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Will white women without a college degree torpedo President Trumps’ re-election?



Four years ago, white women without a college degree stood side by side with non-college white men, even though it was the first time in history that a female presidential candidate had headed a great party. This year, however, they are breaking ranks. If Donald Trump loses the 2020 election, white women without a college degree will be a big part of it.

A look at a new Washington Post / ABC News poll from two key Midwestern states, Wisconsin and Minnesota, shows a shocking turnaround.

In 2016, Donald Trump lifted Wisconsin 0.8% in the popular vote and lost Minnesota by the surprisingly narrow 1.5% margin. Now, according to this new survey, he follows Joe Biden among the likely voters by 6 points in Wisconsin and 16 points in Minnesota.

To understand what’s going on, lets focus on white voters without a college degree, who made up 37% of the vote in Minnesota and 47% in Wisconsin in 2016, according to exit polls. (We now know that these shares almost certainly underestimated the weight of white non-university voters in these states and elsewhere.)

White voters in Minnesota without a college degree, 2016 and 2020

2016 2020 Trump Clinton Trump Biden Trump Global Change 60 33 51 48-9 Men 63 30 60 37-3 Women 58 36 40 59-18

Source: Washington Post / ABC News

White voters in Wisconsin without a college degree, 2016 and 2020

2016 2020 Trump Clinton Trump Biden Trump Global Change 62 34 54 44-8 Men 69 26 65 32-4 Women 56 40 45 52-11

Source: Washington Post / ABC News

These numbers speak for themselves. Support for white voters without a college degree fell in Minnesota and Wisconsin compared to 2016, and much of the change is attributable to the change in sentiment among non-college women. The gender gap among non-college whites has widened since 2016, from 5 to 20 points in Minnesota and from 13 to 20 points in Wisconsin.

The Washington Post / ABC News survey helps us understand the reasons for the widening differences between men and women without a college degree. Compared to men, non-university women are less likely to believe that Donald Trump can handle the country’s problems better than Joe Biden, as the following tables show.

White Non-University Voters in Minnesota: Who Can Manage. . . . . better, Trump or Biden?

Trump Biden Issue Men Women Men Women The Economy 66 41 32 48 Coronavirus Outbreak 61 41 39 59 Crime and Security 59 36 36 51 Racial Equality 55 39 33 59 Political Violence 60 35 40 51 Healthcare 58 36 39 59

Source: Washington Post / ABC News

White Wisconsin Non-University Voters: Who Can Manage. . . . better, Trump or Biden?

Trump Biden Issue Men Women Men Women The Economy 71 46 26 48 Coronavirus Outbreak 61 41 31 51 Crime and Security 66 45 31 50 Racial Equality 59 35 39 51 Political Violence 66 41 30 50 Health Care 62 41 32 52

Source: Washington Post / ABC News

This poll provides even more evidence for the argument, first advanced in these pages by Morley Winograd and Mike Hais, that the estrangement of women from the Republican Party could portend the first gender realignment in American history. Whether this turns out to be true remains to be seen, of course. But unless President Trump can reverse the negative judgment on his performance that so many white women without a college degree have been educated, he won’t get their votes in November. And if he doesn’t, it’s hard to see how he can fill the void their reduced support will create, as his relentless grassroots strategy has earned him few new friends.

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