Is Education Level Starting to Matter More Than Race in Elections?

We're not there yet. Especially among black voters.

But here's another interesting data point from a Dem firm doing a deep dive into the 2020 results in Nevada. There's no need to accept its narrative of the overall results (or any part of it for that matter) to find its analysis of Latino vote shifts intriguing.

Which Latino voters shifted the most toward Republicans from 2016 to 2020? One surprising feature of the 2020 election is that the subsets of Latino voters who swung away from Democrats tended to be the ones that are more likely to support Democrats overall:  younger Latinos, Latinas, and Latinos without a four-year college degree. For example, we found that Latino voters under the age of 30 swung 9 points away from Democrats compared to 2016 (but still supported Joe Biden with 67% of the vote) while Latino voters over the age of 65 only shifted 3 points (and supported Joe Biden with 57% of the vote). We see similar-sized swings among Latino voters without a four-year college degree, who swung 10 points toward Republicans, compared to just 5 points for college-educated Latinos.

One argument might be that the most Democrat-leaning voters have the most room to shift. But these numbers are still striking especially because they reflect a national trend in which white voters are becoming stratified on the basis of education. The most overeducated white voters are becoming an ultra-reliable Dem bloc (which is bad news because they tend to have high turnout) while working-class white voters are becoming a Republican bloc. And, beyond this breakdown, we're seeing some similar signals among Latinos.

Women have been the big Democrat wall among minorities. Black and Latino men might vote for Republicans, but Black and Latino women, who had higher turnout rates were a dedicated Dem constituency. 

Seeing younger Latino women swing Republican has to be scary as hell for a party that built everything around a majority-minority project that presumed demographic change would transform the electorate and expected Latino women to do most of the heavy lifting since they were the most reliable part of the demographic change bloc.

While Latinas in Nevada are more supportive of Democrats in general than Latino men, we see that from 2016 to 2020 Democratic support levels declined 6 points for Latino men compared to 11 points for Latinas. 

This is the part that's meant to scare you if you're a Dem.

For instance, many analysts have focused on employment and reopening as a campaign issue in 2020, suggesting it might have had higher salience with Latino voters. But the Latina shift away from Democrats, in particular, started in 2018, when the labor market was booming. Overall, these data suggest we should not see the 2020 results as a fluke, but as part of a multi-cycle trend.

What's going on?

While these analyses don’t align on the exact amount of shifting due to differences in research methodology, statistical weighting, and research design, they all suggest that Latinas shifted more against Democrats as a group from 2016 to 2020 relative to other Latino voters.

One explanation is that education level is becoming an instrument of cultural consolidation. Call it the "Latinx" factor. 

The Dems have turned their party over to an overeducated elite shutting out much of the population and it's having trouble appealing to working-class people of all backgrounds.



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