New Democracy Corps Analysis Shows Bush Suffering Major Loss of Support Among College-Educated Men
An important new analysis by Stan Greenberg and Anna Greenberg draws attention to a critical problem facing George Bush – a startling loss of support among college-educated men. These voters, once “paid-up members in Karl Rove’s “Republican Base” have defected in large numbers to John Kerry.
The October 27th analysis by Democracy Corps examines the latest data on the patterns of Bush and Kerry support among both men and women and among both non-college and college voters.
Here are some highlights from the analysis, focusing on the changing attitudes of college-educated men. Make sure you read the full-text of the memo at the D-Corps site. It’s got lots of important additional information and data that can help guide Democratic strategy in the coming days.
The coverage of the election has mostly missed the real story....
The big change is Bush’s underperformance with men. His margin has slipped 9 points. [In 2000, Bush lead Gore 54-42 among men. Today Kerry lags Bush among men by only 3%, 46-49] As we shall see below, that has been driven by dramatic losses with white college-educated men...
Watch them. In 2000, Gore faced a rout here, losing by 25 points. These were paid up members in Karl Rove’s “Republican base.” But today Kerry is only losing these college men by 6 points (51 to 45 percent)...
Where did Bush go wrong with educated men? Clearly the Bush campaign set out to win college educated men with a strategy that emphasized continued tax cuts and Kerry’s “tax and spend” record in the Senate. At the outset, this might have been sufficient: Bush led among white college educated men by 20 points (56 to 36 percent) in the late winter and early spring. But as the campaign progressed, Kerry steadily increased his share of the vote – ultimately by 9 points to 45 percent – while Bush dropped by 5 points to 51 percent.
Republican strategies, centered on the war and the military, cultural politics and ideology were meant to solidify the base, but it created a series of problems among the educated men. First, college educated men are increasingly skeptical about the situation in Iraq. Second, educated men question Bush’s approach to the economy, which remains
sluggish while the deficits explode. Finally, the cultural politics that are so important to shoring up religious voters have no impact with these socially moderate voters.
White college educated men prefer Bush on foreign policy by only 4 points, down from 15 points in the spring and summer, while white men without a college education prefer Bush by 28 points. White educated men favor Bush on Iraq by only 8 points (down from 20 points) while white non-college educated men favor him by 29 points. Only 45 percent of white college educated men say that Bush has good plans for Iraq compared to 61 percent among white non-college educated men.
Interestingly, Bush has seemed to lose these voters on the economy, no longer persuaded by tax cuts. While white college educated men say they prefer Bush on taxes to Kerry (55 to 39 percent), they are split on which candidate would do a better job on the economy. In fact, they moved from giving Bush a 16-point advantage on the economy over Kerry in the spring and summer to only a 3-point edge now. At the same time, white non-college educated men did not move in their assessment, giving Bush a 17-point advantage on the economy.
While cultural politics helped Bush with many of his base groups including white religious and rural voters, it created no traction among white college educated men. White college educated men are simply not culturally conservative – they give pro-life groups (39 percent warm, 42 percent cool) and the NRA (39 percent warm, 43 percent cool) net negative ratings, unlike white non-college educated men. And while they oppose gay marriage (26 percent warm, 48 percent cool), they do so not nearly by the margin as white non-college educated men (16 percent warm, 64 percent cool). A majority of white college men do not own guns (55 percent), while a majority of white non-college men do (54 percent).
More than any other factor, these white college educated men are undercutting Bush’s male vote.