Friday, February 15, 2008

Education Gap Among Democratic Voters Between Clinton and Obama?

The Washington Post has a blog on its website called "Behind the Numbers" where one of their reporters examines the demographics of recent primary and caucus elections. In the entry for Friday, February 15, 2008, there is an analysis of the voting patterns of the Democratic contests based on level of education.

The following quote summarizes the analysis of the data:

In Post-ABC national polling, Clinton consistently scored better among voters without college degrees than among those with more education, and the pattern has held firm in primaries across the country. In fact, education has been a key divider among white voters in a contest marked by an evident racial divide.

In each of the states where the Post subscribed to exit polls (and voters were asked about their level of education), Clinton did better among non-college than college-educated white voters. She also outpaced Obama among non-college whites in all 14 of these states, but beat him by more than a single percentage point among college graduates in only five.

The entry goes on to note that while half of all whites say that the nation is ready for a woman president, only about a third of whites without college degrees said that the nation is ready for an African-American President. Whites with college degrees were about twice as likely to say that America is ready for such a president as were whites without college degrees.

In the U.S. as a whole, 27% of all Americans have a bachelor's degree or higher, and in Ohio the figure is 23%. These figures suggest that Ohio should be a better state for Clinton and polls show that as of Friday, February 15, 2008, she is leading the state.

The long-term question is, though, what exactly the fact that whites without college degrees think that the nation isn't ready for an African-American president means in a general election between McCain and Obama. Are such whites expressing their opinion about our society, or are they really saying that they themselves aren't ready for an African-American to be president? If it is the former, then the observation doesn't really impact on their voting behavior. If it is the latter, however, then in a battle with McCain, Obama may be at a disadvantage considering that 73% of Americans don't have college degrees and a lot of those 73% will be white voters.

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