Cassidy is one of my favorite analysts. He's an excellent reporter and great writer and somehow manages to churn out a smart, useful column almost daily for the New Yorker website. I don't know how he does it.
Cassidy chatted with me and Charles Franklin of the Wisconsin Marquette Law School poll about the current state of the race and combined our ruminations with some other data about the current state of the campaign. The result is well worth a read in my opinion. From the column:
"Teixeira has been closely following the racial and educational demographics. From this perspective, he said, the biggest difference this year, compared with 2016, is that Trump appears to have lost a good deal of support among white voters, a group he carried by twenty points four years ago, according to exit polls. “It’s very clear what’s going on,” Teixeira said. “On the one hand, based on current trends it appears Biden is probably going to do about as well as [Hillary] Clinton did among Hispanics and Black voters—Asians are a little harder to get ahold of because they are such a small group. The big shift is among white voters, who’ve gone from the big margin they gave Trump in 2016 to being almost closely contested in some polls. That’s ridiculous for a Republican. You can’t win that way.”
The polls indicate that a good deal of Trump’s shrinking lead among white voters is a result of his alienating college-educated whites, particularly college-educated white women. Teixeira readily conceded that’s an important development, but he also pointed to a less ballyhooed development: Trump’s declining support among non-college-educated white voters—the group usually thought of as his base. In 2016, according to the exit polls, Trump carried non-college-educated whites by a whopping thirty-seven percentage points. In the latest national poll from NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist College, his lead over Biden in this group was only eleven percentage points. Other surveys exhibit a similar shrinkage. Teixeira shared with me some results from the latest Nationscape survey, an ongoing large-scale study of the electorate that researchers at U.C.L.A. and the Democracy Fund, a charitable foundation. Taken last week, the survey estimated Trump’s lead among white non-college-educated voters at fifteen per cent.
Some polls don’t show such a dramatic drop. For example, the new Times/Siena College survey puts Trump’s lead among white respondents without a college degree at twenty-three points, but even that represents a substantial drop from 2016. The reason these declines are so important, Teixeira said, is that the white non-college-educated demographic is so large: according to his estimates, it will constitute about forty-one per cent of the 2020 electorate. The share of white voters with a college degree will be considerably smaller: thirty-one per cent. Moreover, as many college-educated suburban voters have abandoned Trump, he has become ever more reliant on his working-class base. “This is potentially the death knell for him,” Teixeira said. “It was always true that unless he did as well or better among these voters, he was very likely going to lose the election. He isn’t doing well. He’s doing worse, and he’s doing worse by large margins.”...
Compared with 2016, Franklin said, two groups in particular have moved away from Trump: white women without a college degree and white men with a college degree. “Interestingly, those were also the two groups that in 2018 shifted to pretty strong support for the Democratic candidate for governor, and more so for the Democratic candidate for the Senate,” Franklin said. “If we are looking for where swing voters are these days, it’s not the two polar opposites that get so much attention”—white men without college degrees and white women with college degrees—“it’s these two groups in the middle.” The Marquette polling provides a more granular picture of the shift away from Trump among non-college-educated voters that Teixeira highlighted. In Wisconsin, at least, this seems to be overwhelmingly a female phenomenon. Franklin said his data indicate that white men without college degrees are still supporting Trump by more than thirty points. But white women without college degrees are now leaning slightly to Biden."
There you have it.