White High School Grads Fled the Democratic Party After Barack Obama Was Elected

Here’s a series of charts from Pew Research showing the party ID of white voters. I have helpfully added a dashed line for the year 2010:

With the (odd) exception of the group with some college, the party ID of white voters had a big inflection point in 2010. There was only modest movement before then, but starting in 2010 the high school crowd suddently flocked to the Republican Party while the college crowd flocked to the Democratic Party.

Two things happened around 2010 that could have affected voters strongly: the Great Recession and the presidency of Barack Obama. However, the Great Recession affected everyone fairly equally: high school grads saw an income drop of about 7 percent while college grads saw an income drop of 5 percent (between 2008 and 2012). There’s no special reason that high school and college grads should have reacted in violently opposite directions to that.

So that leaves Barack Obama. White high school grads saw a black Democrat in the White House and fled from the Democratic Party. White college grads saw a black Democrat in the White House and stampeded to the Democratic Party.

Note that among high school grads, Donald Trump really had nothing to do with this: they had already abandoned the Democratic Party by 2015 and nothing much changed over the next two years. Among college grads, however, the change of party ID accelerated when Trump took the stage. This suggests, perhaps, that Trump hasn’t done much to attract more white votes to the Republican Party, but he has done a lot to lose white votes. This is not good news for Republicans in 2018. As Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham so vividly said once, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” We can hope he was right.

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate