Under Trump, The GOP Has Become Less Educated And More White
President Donald Trump’s rise within the Republican Party has dramatically altered its demographics, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report — landing the GOP with a base that is more rural, more white and less educated.
Though working-class voters were migrating to the Republican Party before Trump came on the scene, the president appears to have accelerated the movement, the analysis showed. And along with shifting the demographics, Trump has also “reframed much of the Republican agenda to appeal to these voters, particularly on trade, immigration and foreign affairs, in many cases upending 40 years of GOP policy.”
The overall number of Americans who identify as Republican has remained rather stable, with the Journal reporting that recent polling showed about 36 percent of voters claiming the label. By comparison, 37 percent of voters aligned with the GOP last year, in 2016 and in 2012.
It is merely the composition of the party that has changed.
In 2014, 49 percent of Republican voters were white without a college degree. That number jumped to 59 percent in 2018. At the same time, the percentage of Republicans with a college degree fell from 38 in 2014 to 29 percent last year.
Part of Trump’s draw for working-class Americans is his focus on trade deals, Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) told the Journal. “Folks that were not traditional Republicans, whether the factory or the construction worker, have been attracted to the party” by the president’s assertion that “in many ways, America’s been taken advantage of.”
Regardless of the why, the GOP’s new reality is that the party “now represents more middle- and lower-income Americans than it did a decade ago,” the Journal noted, and the question to ask is what will happen when Trump leaves office.
GOP strategist Whit Ayres told the Journal that the next leader will have to reckon with the party’s changed composition — “its declining support among college-educated women and suburban residents, for example, and its expanded support in small-town and rural communities.”
“The challenge for Republicans is that the groups among whom the party has grown stronger are declining as a proportion of the electorate,’’ Ayres said, “and the groups among which the party has grown weaker are growing as a proportion of the electorate.”