Geoff Garin, the chief strategist for Clinton’s 2008 primary campaign and a pollster this year for the pro-Clinton Priorities USA Super PAC, said at the forum, that Trump’s combative views on cultural issues and diversity are driving away some college-educated voters who usually lean toward the GOP on economic issues—even as they may be luring more blue-collar whites.
“College whites…on some issues, are more inclined to be Republicans, but Donald Trump, in terms of these questions of what kind of country we want to be and his rejection of America's diversity I think is offensive to a lot of college-educated white voters, as well as his lack of qualifications to be president,” Garin said “And I think that they're also...they're the most news attentive part of the electorate, they're much more aware of what he said about national security issues, they're very worried about all of that."
The same class gaps persisted across personal and policy assessments of the two candidates in the CNN poll. While nearly two-thirds of non-college-educated whites now say they have a favorable view of Trump, about three-fifths of college-educated whites and two-thirds of non-whites still view him unfavorably. Nearly three-fifths of non-college-educated whites said Trump would unite the country; but about two-thirds of non-college-educated whites and seven-in-ten minorities disagree. Similarly, nearly three-fifths of non-college-educated whites said they would be “proud” with Trump as president, but two-thirds of whites holding at least a four year degree and four-fifths of minorities said they would not.
Democrats have struggled among non-college-educated whites for years, but have won the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections anyway by improving their performance among white-collar whites and maintaining their dominance among non-white voters. Data from both the media exit polls and the Census agree that both of those latter groups are growing as a share of the electorate, while the blue-collar whites are declining (though the Census gives them a larger remaining share than the exit polls).
Still the possibility that Trump could further expand even the usual Republican margins among working-class whites has led many Democrats to the grudging conclusion that the race could be more competitive than they originally expected-or hoped. As much by necessity as preference, Democrats this year are increasingly placing their hopes on maximizing their margins and turnout among the “coalition of the ascendant”-the minority, Millennial and college-educated, single and secular whites (especially women) at the core of their modern coalition.
"Non-college-educated whites have historically voted at very high rates for the Republican candidate, so I wouldn't make a huge issue out of that, and also the percentage who are in their category's not necessarily growing,” Matt Barreto, co-founder of the polling firm Latino Decisions, said at the Atlantic forum. “We know that where the percentages are growing are in the groups that the Democrats have been doing well with—single people, unmarried women, blacks and Latinos, Asian Americans, secular Americans, etc. And, in fact, white college-educated are also growing…You still can point to this one segment, non-college educated whites, and the gap may be larger, but I don't think it's the big story.”