Saturday, May 6, 2017

An Interesting Point about Education and Politics

I have always been skeptical of the notion that education transforms people. One reason for my skepticism is that no amount of schooling seems to have any effect on ideology. Well-educated conservatives may be conservative in a somewhat different way than ignorant conservatives, but they are still conservatives. And well-educated leftists gave us communism and anarchism.

Consider that in 2012, the exist polling showed that Obama won about 51 percent of voters with college degrees and 50 percent without, not a very stunning difference.

On the other hand, the most recent analysis shows that Trump won 42 percent of voters with college degrees but 51 percent without. (This analysis seems to show that the reason state polling was so far off in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin was that polling samples in those states were not normalized for education and simply polled too many college-educated people.)

I would be willing to bet a large sum that if we could break down Trump voters by enthusiasm, we would find that many more college-educated Trump voters held their noses while they did so, hoping that a Trump administration stocked with Republicans would somehow be better for than the country than Hillary despite their lack of trust in the man at the top. That is, I bet really strong supporters of Trump are even less educated than his voters as a whole.

So while education does not change many people from conservatives to liberals or vice versa, maybe it does empower people to recognize a complete fraud when they see one.


David said...

Education isn't likely to turn conservatives per se into liberals per se. But it does make them less likely to be populists, since populism is in large part about the uneducated person's resentment of the educated. And in general, Trumpism and the aspects of contemporary Republicanism it plays upon (conspiracy theorizing, uncoded ethnic stereotyping, science denial, anger as a social ideal, etc.) seem particularly likely to divide the electorate along educated vs. uneducated lines. Always, of course, we're talking percentages here, not absolutes.

Shadow Flutter said...

I would say the resentment goes both ways, and neither the educated nor the uneducated are more or less likely to be taken in by a fraud than the other. You are unlikely to be taken in by a fraud who acts like the people you resent. You are more likely to be taken in by a fraud who acts like people you like and admire. That's probably a guiding principle for all con-artists. I'm not sure how much education matters in any of this. The more we value it, the more we tend to believe it explains things, but I'm dubious.