Long a niggling concern for the Trump campaign, college-educated white women appear to be turning into an insurmountable problem.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll over the weekend showed that since mid-July, Hillary Clinton’s overall lead in the race has grown to eight points from four. Among college-educated white women, she now leads by 19 points, up from a three-point lead in mid-July. A Monmouth University poll released Monday puts her advantage with this demographic at 30 points.
This highlights the problem with Donald Trump’s electoral strategy. He is doubling down on his support among white men without college degrees, which takes an already-narrow path to 270 electoral votes and shrinks it further. If educated white women no longer favor the Republican candidate:
▪ Colorado and Virginia turn solidly blue, no longer swing states.
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▪ Pennsylvania becomes even further out of reach for Republican presidential candidates.
▪ North Carolina suddenly leans Democratic.
▪ Georgia becomes a true swing state.
▪ Utah may be in play for the first time in decades.
Much has been written about the “browning” of the U.S., but the more immediate threat to the Republican Party appears to be the shifting allegiance of an already-powerful group. If support for Democrats becomes the new normal among college-educated white women, the Republican Party’s current constituency could not win a presidential election.
Although the Democratic Party would be the big winner of such a shift, the GOP would not be the only loser. If they can win over women like former eBay CEO and California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who endorsed Clinton last week, Democrats won’t need the sorts of voters who supported Bernie Sanders.
Working-class white males, intellectual conservatives and anti-establishment liberals would find themselves shut out of the political process.
Conor Sen is a portfolio manager for New River Investments in Atlanta.