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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: Biden and White Noncollege Voters (II)

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

Yesterday, I noted that Biden’s strong primary performance owed a lot to how well his did with white noncollege voters. But that’s the primary; what about the general election? How does Biden fare against Trump among this demographic relative to how well (which was very poorly) Clinton did against Trump in 2016?

Here I compare States of Change data from our analysis of the 2016 election with data from the UCLA/Lucid/Democracy Fund Voter Study Group survey. The survey interviews 6,000 respondents a week; I pool the date from the beginning of the year (almost 60,000 registered voters to date). What the data show overall is that Biden is delivering as advertised in terms of performance among white noncollege voters.

Data below show first the 2016 States of Change white noncollege margin for a given state, then the 2020 Nationscape margin among that demographic in that state and finally Biden’s relative white noncollege performance compared to Clinton’s in 2016.

National: -=31 Clinton 2016, -16 Biden 2020, +15 Biden difference

Arizona: -27 Clinton, -20 Biden, +7 Biden
Florida: -30 Clinton, -20 Biden, +10 Biden
Michigan -21 Clinton, -7 Biden, +14 Biden
Minnesota, -21 Clinton, -5 Biden, +16 Biden
North Carolina: -51 Clinton, -39 Biden, +12 Biden
Ohio: -32 Clinton, -16 Biden, +16 Biden
Pennsylvania: -29 Clinton, -17 Biden, +12 Biden
Wisconsin: -19 Clinton, –5 Biden, +14 Biden

It’s always important to remember that, while there were many deficiencies to Clinton’s performance in 2016 relative to Obama in 2012, by far the biggest and most consequential was the massive shift away from Democrats among white noncollege voters, particularly in the Midwest. While it’s a long way to November, these data tell an encouraging story about Biden’s ability to repair a lot of the damage among this demographic in 2020. That will take him far in his bid to unseat Trump in 2020–and probably help the Democratic ticket all over the country.

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