The only question is whether this shift will last more than one electoral cycle.
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Donald Trump’s strategy in this campaign has been fairly clear from the beginning: Drive up Republican support among white voters in order to compensate for the GOP’s shrinking share among the growing nonwhite portion of the electorate. And Trump has succeeded in over performing among a certain slice of white voters, those without a college degree. But overall, the strategy isn’t working. Trump has a smaller lead among white voters than Mitt Romney did in 2012, and Trump’s margin seems to be falling from where it was when the general election began.
. . . Perhaps, it would be better news for Trump if he were at least trending in the right direction with white voters. But he’s moved backward compared with polls back in May and early June. Back then, Trump led Clinton by 17 percentage points, on average, among white voters. In other words, the longer white voters have had a chance to listen to Trump’s message, the more they have been put off by it as a group.
To be more specific, Trump is trading one type of white voter for another. Even as he piles up support among white men without a college degree, he’s on track for a record poor performance for a Republican among white voterswith a degree. And right now, that tradeoff is a net negative for Trump, compared with Romney. If a ton of new white voters without a degree flooded into the electorate, that could change the math for Trump. But such a surge doesn’t look like it’s in the offing.