What Explains Educational Polarization Among White Voters?

Over the past 40 years of American politics, college-educated white voters have defected from the Republican Party, while the white working class has become a reliable source of Republican support. I study the issue basis of this realignment. To do so,
I generate over-time estimates of public opinion on four broad issue domains from 1984 to 2020 and develop a theoretical framework to understand how issue attitudes translate into electoral coalitions. Using this framework, I find that both economic and cultural issues have contributed to the observed realignment. College-educated white voters have become increasingly liberal on economic issues since the mid-2000s; college educated voters now express more liberal views than working class voters on every issue domain. Over the same time period, cultural issues have become more important for the voting decisions of the working class. The increasing weight placed on non-economic issues means that the conservative cultural attitudes of white working class voters translate to Republican support at a higher rate than in the past. Together, these findings suggest a nuanced role for economic and cultural issues in structuring political coalitions. Educational realignment has deep roots across issue domains, suggesting that the new coalitions are likely to be stable into the foreseeable future.

That is a new paper by William Marble, from someone on Twitter.  That is in my view not really good news.


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