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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 01:44 PM ET, 02/15/2008

An education gap among white voters

Today, Behind the Numbers shows the sizable "education gap" in Democratic voting patterns.

In Post-ABC national polling, Clinton consistently scored better among voters without college degrees than among those with more education, and the pattern has held firm in primaries across the country. In fact, education has been a key divider among white voters in a contest marked by an evident racial divide.

In each of the states where the Post subscribed to exit polls (and voters were asked about their level of education), Clinton did better among non-college than college-educated white voters. She also outpaced Obama among non-college whites in all 14 of these states, but beat him by more than a single percentage point among college graduates in only five.

In Virginia, where 52 percent of white voters opted for Obama, the Illinois senator did 18 percentage points better than Clinton among those with college degrees, but lost by 15 points among those less formal education.

Dividing white voters by income shows a similar pattern in Virginia and elsewhere, pointing to Clinton's much-discussed advantage among "downscale" voters. For more, see the thread on pollster.com.

We'll take a deeper look at the reasons for these differences in a future Behind the Numbers post, but digging further into the Virginia data, one difference jumped out. While about half of whites regardless of education level said the nation is "definitely" ready for a woman president, just a third of whites without college degrees were that sure the country is prepared for a black president and they were almost twice as likely as college educated whites to say the nation is not ready for an African American chief executive.

White non-college
             %Total  Clinton  Obama  Clin.-Ob.
New Hampshire  44      44      35       9
South Carolina 23      38      16      22
Florida        35      56      15      41
Arizona        34      59      33      26
California     23      50      37      13
Georgia        16      64      35      29
Illinois       28      50      46       4
Massachusetts  32      68      29      39
Missouri       48      63      33      30
New Jersey     24      73      24      49
New York       23      65      31      34
Tennessee      44      76      17      59
Maryland       16      61      32      29
Virginia       23      57      42      15
White college grad or more
             %Total  Clinton  Obama  Clin.-Ob.
New Hampshire  51      35      37      -2
South Carolina 21      33      32       1
Florida        32      51      33      18
Arizona        35      46      45       1
California     29      42      51      -9
Georgia        27      48      48       0
Illinois       29      32      67     -35
Massachusetts  53      52      46       6
Missouri       27      35      61     -26
New Jersey     35      60      38      22
New York       48      57      40      17
Tennessee      23      51      42       9
Maryland       37      48      47       1
Virginia       39      40      58     -18

By  |  01:44 PM ET, 02/15/2008

Categories:  Exit polls

 
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