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White College Educated Democrats Are Overwhelmingly Liberal, Nonwhite Working Class Democrats Are Overwhelmingly Moderate or Conservative
That Could Matter in Future Elections
A recent Gallup release confirmed that Democrats now have about as many liberals in the party as moderates or conservatives. That liberalism has been mostly driven by increasing liberalism among white Democrats which has spiked upward 20 points since the early 2000s. White Democrats are now a solidly liberal constituency. Not so black and Hispanic Democrats who are overwhelmingly moderate or conservative.
The contrast is particularly striking between college graduate whites and working class (noncollege) nonwhites. Gallup data indicate that two-thirds of white college Democrats are liberal while 70 percent of black working class and two-thirds of Hispanic working class Democrats are moderate or conservative.
Given that Democrats are becoming more and more dependent on the white college vote—the key group that delivered their victory in 2020—while actually losing ground among nonwhite working class voters, this ideological mismatch between the two groups of Democrats could assume ever-greater importance in future elections, depending on which group has the upper hand in determining the Democratic party “brand”. To the extent issues and rhetoric that appeal mostly to college-educated white liberals are promoted, there could be serious attrition among working class nonwhites who find such issues and rhetoric unappealing.
There are of course many issues on which white college grad liberals and nonwhite working class moderates and conservatives agree. For example, looking at post-election data from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape survey (postelection N=53,000), there is overwhelming support for a guaranteed job policy and raising the minimum wage across the two groups.
Other issues generate much more disagreement. By 13 percentage points, white college liberals disagree that there are just two genders, male and female. But moderates and conservatives from the nonwhite working class agree by 31 points that there are in fact just two genders.
Similarly, white college grad liberals support providing government financed health insurance to immigrants who enter the country illegally by 22 points while this is opposed by 16 points among the moderate and conservative nonwhite working class. Other examples include granting reparations to the descendants of slaves and reducing the size of the US military where white college liberals are solidly in favor, while nonwhite working class moderates and conservatives are not.
Much may depend in the future on whether the Democratic brand evolves more toward issues upon which the Democratic coalition has strong agreement or becomes more identified with issues where disagreements are common and large. The 2020 election provided some early returns on this question and the results were arguably not encouraging for the Democrats.