The “Republican-educated woman is done,” according to former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon.
Talking to Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman, Bannon said that college-educated women are “gone” from the GOP. “They were going anyway at some point in time,” he added. “Trump triggers them.”
Polls and data seem to back up Bannon’s hypothesis: College-educated women are opposing the Republican Party at unusual levels. The story becomes clear upon taking a closer look at the numbers. Here’s the shocking comparison between how white men and women, college-educated and not, differ in the preference for party.
The graph to the farthest left shows generic ballot preference of white men without a college degree since 2002. On polls, this is generally a question about who a respondent would prefer to win the House race in his district. Since 2002, those men, which make up a core of Trump’s base, have increasingly preferred Republican candidates.
Moving from left to right, it becomes clear that for white men with a college degree, on the other hand, the margin of Republican support has narrowed significantly since 2016.
White women without a college degree had similarly given Republicans an edge on the generic ballot in recent years, but in the Trump era that gap has closed.
The most staggering graph, though, is party preference of women with a college education.
If we look just at the margin, the support for the Republican minus the support for the Democrat in each poll, the change is even clearer. Support for the Republicans among white women with a college degree drops off a cliff after 2016. In the most recent Post poll, conducted with the Schar School, the gap was 47 points in favor of the Democrats among white women with college degrees.
There are very few permanent political trends. A Republican Party that at some point in the future wants to lure white, college-educated women back to the fold might consciously target that group with specific policies to win them back. Or, perhaps, the magnetic pull of partisanship, which served Trump so well in 2016, will drag traditional Republican voters back to the party over the short term.
If you’re a Republican political strategist trying to figure out your natural bases of support for 2018, though, your instinct will probably mirror Bannon’s: White, college-educated women are a lost cause.