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There are many demographic fault lines emerging in this year’s presidential campaign, but few are deeper than the division among likely voters based on educational attainment.
Those with the least number of years of education are far more likely to support Donald Trump, while those who have had the most schooling are much more likely to back Hillary Clinton, according to a Bloomberg Politics national pollreleased this week.
“The presence or absence of a college degree is more predictive of the vote in this election than we’ve seen in past elections,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversees many political surveys for Bloomberg Politics.
Another trend may also be developing in the campaign that could pose a threat to Clinton: apathy among potential voters under age 35.
Both of these subplots were revealed in the new poll, with educational level offering the starkest contrast.
Clinton wins the college-educated segment by 25 percentage points, 59 percent to 34 percent. Trump’s edge among those without a college education is 10 points, 52 percent to 42 percent.
Trump’s lead is 4-to-1 among white men with less than a college degree, 76 percent to 19 percent. Clinton’s advantage with college-educated women is 64 percent to 31 percent.
That’s vastly different from what was recorded in the 2012 presidential election, when exit polling showed 47 percent of voters were college graduates. In that contest, President Barack Obama only narrowly beat Republican challenger Mitt Romney among college graduates, 50 percent to 48 percent.
It’s also different from the two presidential contests before that. In 2008, Obama won among both those who did and did not graduate college by almost identical margins over Senator John McCain of Arizona (53 percent to 45 percent, and 53 percent to 46 percent).
In 2004, President George W. Bush beat then-Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts among those with no college degree, 53 percent to 47 percent. Among those with college degrees, the two men tied at 49 percent.