Level of Education Unites the Parties, Divides the Country

The Wall Street Journal reports that a landmark repositioning is taking place this election. A change in the fundamental makeup of the of the two political parties can be seen by a widening gap in the education level of the voters who are loyal to these two parties.

It used to be that better-educated voters, particularly college-educated voters, were the rock of the Republican base,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican polling expert whose clients include Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.); (The Wall Street Journal10/13/16).

This repositioning, really a switch of party affiliation, dates back to the 1920s…

From the New Deal era until about 2000, Democratic candidates consistently did better among whites without college degrees than those with them. More recently, college-educated voters have aligned more strongly with the Democratic Party and liberal causes, polling has shown, an advantage that grows substantially among the most educated voters, those with postgraduate degrees (The Wall Street Journal10/13/16).

So what does this mean for this election? The Trump base is less educated than the Clinton base, and the disenfranchised voters who are not voting at all are also less educated.

As a result, Republicans in presidential elections have carried the nine states in which white residents older than age 24 are least likely to hold a college degree. Those include Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas and West Virginia. Democrats have carried the 10 states in which white residents are most likely to have a four-year degree, among them Massachusetts, Hawaii, Maryland, Colorado and Connecticut (The Wall Street Journal10/13/16).

Education is a key factor in this election, along with gender, establishment and a general dislike of the candidates who are running. It seems to be a moment in time, in our country, where serious issues facing the nation are in need of more talk and the winner will have to pull all of this together after the election and implement. A friend told me that we get the elections we need and deserve, but the solutions are always an imperfect result. So who will be better at implementing? Who will offer the imperfect solutions to the education policy problem we now have identified: No matter who wins, how will we restructure education opportunity to enhance future elections, future workforce participation and a more balanced national economy resulting in a more productive and happier nation?

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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