While working-class white folks made up Trump’s signature demographic, it was a surge of whites with college degrees that helped him flip notably blue states like Pennsylvania. These college-educated white people, a new survey from the nonpartisan PRRI found, lack empathy on issues of poverty that place them in stark contrast with the blue-collar voters who have been identified as Trump’s base.
White college-educated Americans are far less likely to say poverty is a critical issue — only 37 percent, compared to 47 percent of white non-college-educated Americans and a majority of Hispanic and black Americans (at 52 and 69 percent, respectively). According to PRRI, white college-educated Americans are also less likely than non-college whites to say that children living in poverty is a critical issue to them (49 percent compared to 60 percent). Only 36 percent of college-educated whites say lack of well-paying jobs is a major problem facing communities.
The empathy gap of college-educated whites only widens in regions where Trump excelled electorally, like the Southwest and the Southeast. White college-educated residents of those regions are far less concerned than those without a college degree about the lack of equal opportunity in education. Nearly half of white college-educated respondents (46 percent) told PRRI that it is not a major problem if not everyone has an equal chance in life — a view shared by only 36 percent of those without a college education.
So, the educated portion of the country, those people who might, just, be expected to know which way is up, think poverty in the US is not a problem.
This is a problem because?