Among the broadest gulfs in The Post’s new poll, conducted with our partners at ABC News, are views of this Tuesday’s midterm elections by white men and women of varying educational backgrounds.
Asked to pick between the Democratic and Republican candidates in their House district, white men without a college degree preferred the Republican by 39 points. White women with a college degree, on the other hand, preferred the Democrat by 16 points.
That’s a wide gap, but also a by-now familiar one. White men without degrees have been identified as part of President Trump’s core base of support since nearly his first day as a candidate. White women with degrees, meanwhile, have increasingly expressed opposition to the GOP, to the point that former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon on several occasions has simply written them off as potential Republican voters.
But the composition of that group isn’t clear. Older Americans are less likely to have college degrees, given the surge in college enrollment in recent decades. Are these fervent Republicans — and likely Trump supporters — mostly older, perhaps higher income Americans? Are they disenfranchised younger men? We can ask similar questions about those college-educated women: Who are they?
To answer that question, we can look at data from the 2016 General Social Survey, a biannual survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.
Overall, the largest group of white men is in the 30-to-49 age group, a slightly lower percentage than the population on the whole (note the dashed horizontal lines indicating the overall population figures). Those without college degrees tend to be younger than the population on the whole; those with degrees tend to be significantly older.
This pattern generally holds with white women, too. The density of older white women is larger than the density of older people in the population broadly, a function in large part of higher life expectancies among women. Notice that white women with college degrees are less heavily skewed older than are white men with degrees. More than 3-in-10 white men with degrees (bachelors or graduate) are aged 65 or older; less than a quarter of white women with degrees are that old.
For the sake of comparison, contrast those figures with the numbers for nonwhite men. Nonwhite men skew much younger than white men or women overall.
Broadly, white men without college degrees are distributed by age in about the same way as the population on the whole. But what about income?
White men overall and white men without degrees tend to skew toward the higher end of the income range more than the general population. (Among those with degrees, the skewing is more dramatic, a reinforcement of the link between income and education.)
Again, compare that to white women. The density of women in each income group drops steadily among those without a degree, staying more in line with the population on the whole. White women without degrees are less likely to be in the highest income bracket than the population as a whole; white men without a degree are slightly more likely to be in that bracket.
The gulf among nonwhite men is much broader. Nonwhite men with a degree are more likely than members of the general population to be in the highest income group but, unlike with whites, they are much less likely to be in the $50,000 to $100,000 income range.
Overall, the distribution of white men without a degree tends to favor the second scenario we outlined at the beginning. About 1 in 5 are aged 39 to 49 and earn between $25,000 and $100,000 a year. But about 15 percent make $100,000 a year or more, slightly more than the population as a whole.
The point has been made before: Much of Trump’s base wasn’t, as speculated at the time of his victory, motivated by economic insecurity. Many Trump voters, particularly among this group of white men without degrees, do fall into the lowest income bracket listed above. But only about 30 percent or so — meaning that for every two white men without a degree who earn under $25,000 a year, there’s one who earns $100,000 or more.
White women with a college degree do rate the Republicans decently on one metric: They give the GOP a 2-point edge over the Democrats on handling the economy according to our new poll.
White men without a degree give the Republicans a 54-point advantage.