Buyers Remorse Part Two--Exploding Class-Related Myths: Income & Education
When comparing the February primaries to those held in March, April, and May
· Obama only gained supported among the lowest income (up to $15K) and least educated (not a High School graduate) demographic categories.
· Clinton’s gains came primarily from middle, upper-middle, and upper income voters, and the “Some College”, College Graduate”, and “Post Graduate” education cohorts. Obama lost considerable support within these same groups.
· Increased support for Clinton from “working class” voters ($15K to $50K income demographic) made up less than 8% of Clinton’s increased support.
Ever since Barack Obama was declared by the media and the Obama campaign to be the “inevitable” nominee after winning “ten straight contests” in mid-February, Democrat primary voters have been sending a message – “DO NOT WANT”. In the primaries held after Obama’s string of victories, Hillary Clinton has received 500,000 more votes than Obama (out of 12.7 million cast).
Obama supporters, and media pundits, have dismissively ascribed Clinton’s success during the past three months to racism and “low information voters.” But an analysis of exit polling data show that it is Obama who is gaining ground among voters with the lowest educational levels, while losing ground among the most educated. And Obama is losing ground to Clinton in every income demographic except the very lowest (under 15K/year).
In certain categories, both candidates saw increases in overall support. These dual increases are explained by voters who had preferred a candidate who is no longer in the race (primarily John Edwards) deciding to support to one of the remaining contestants—while the February primaries were essentially two-person contests, 3.5% of the electorate voted for someone other than Obama or Clinton. In the March through May primaries, this “someone else” vote declined to 1.6%.
Were it not for Obama’s increased support among the poorest and least educated voters, Clinton’s 500,000-vote margin over Obama in primaries held since March would be even greater. Neither “racism” nor “lack of knowledge” is driving voters away from Obama; rather it is the realization among rank and file Democrats that Hillary Clinton is far better prepared, more experienced, and more competent than Barack Obama.
(see NOTE 1 for methodology. Charts and accompanying data can be found at http://www.glcq.com/election08/remorse/r... . Full state-by-state exit poll data used in this article can be found at http://www.glcq.com/election08/remorse/r... . Part One of the Buyers Remorse series, which focuses on All voters, and the Race and Gender demographic categories can be found here.)
THE INCOME DEMOGRAPHICS
When compared with the exit polling data from February , Hillary Clinton has outperformed Barack Obama in every income demographic except for the lowest income Americans.
In the March through May primaries, both candidates saw percentage increases among voters in both the “$15K to 30K” and “30K to 50K” demographics, but Clinton did far better:
· Clinton gained more than three times as much new support as Obama in the “$15K to $30K” demographic. (HRC +1.4%, BHO +0.4%)
· Clinton gained more than seven times as much new support as Obama in the “$30K to 50K” demographic. (HRC +2.2%, BHO +0.3%)
In the middle income and upper income brackets, Obama lost support, while Clinton not only picked up the support Obama had lost, she also attracted a significant percentage of the kind of voters who had chosen neither Clinton nor Obama in February.
· Obama lost -2.6% of his support among “middle income” ($50K to $75K) voters, while Clinton picked up 7.3% more support.
· Among “upper middle income” ($75K-$100K), Clinton gained 4.9% more support, while Obama lost -2.8%.
· Voters making 100K or more also gave Clinton more support (+4.3%) while Obama received less support (-2.5%)
When these demographic groups are weighed (see Note 1) to reflect the percentages of the overall Democratic primary electorate, Clinton’s advances among middle and upper income voters far outweigh her loss of support among those making “Under $15K” (Chart 1B),
· Clinton lost less than 1% of the electorate (-0.7%) due to her loss of support among the lowest income voters (who comprised 7.3% of the Democratic primary electorate).
· Clinton’s increase in support from voters making $15K-$50K (comprising 32.8% of the electorate) represented +0.5% of the electorate .
· Clinton’s gains among “middle income” and “upper middle income” voters (those making $50K-100K, making up 35.6% of Democratic primary voters) made up 3.2% of the electorate.
· Upper income voters (those making 100K or more, comprising 24.3% of voters) gave Clinton an additional 1.7% of the electorate.
TABLE 1 (Data for Charts 1A and 1B)
INCOME CHANGE IN SUPPORT CLINTON GAIN/LOSS Clinton Obama Weighed Unweighed Under $15,000 -3.6% +5.4% -0.7% -9.0% $15,000 - $29,999 +1.4% +0.4% +0.1% +1.1% $30,000 - $49,999 +2.2% +0.3% +0.4% +1.9% $50,000 - $74,999 +7.3% -2.6% +2.1% +9.9% $75,000 - $99,999 +4.9% -2.8% +1.1% +7.7% $100,000 or more +4.3% -2.5% +1.7% +6.8%
In other words, Clinton’s gains among Democratic voters during the past three months were due primarily to diminished support for Obama and greater support for Clinton among middle and upper income voters – and the media promulgated claim that ‘racist White working class’ voters account for Clinton’s success is a vicious myth that is contradicted by the actual results from the primaries.
Perhaps one of the most pernicious myths being spread by the Obama campaign and the media is that Clinton’s success since the beginning of March is due to “low information voters”. Yet, when one looks at educational levels of the electorate, it is Obama who has improved his performance among the least educated voters, while Clinton has done far better among those with the highest levels of educational achievement.
· When comparing the February primaries to those held from March through May, Obama lost 1.9% of his support among voters who had continued their education beyond their Bachelor’s degree (“Postgraduate study”), while Clinton gained 3.5% of those voters.
· While Obama made a slight gain (+0.5%) among those with just a College degree, Clinton’s increase in support among College graduates (+2.3%) was more than four times that of Obama.
· Obama saw his greatest losses (-2.3%), and Clinton gained the most (+5.0%), among those who continued their education after High School, but did not get a Bachelor’s degree.
· Clinton also gained additional support (+4.4%) from those who completed High School, but did not pursue further educational opportunities, while Obama’s support in that category declined slightly (-0.6%)
As with income levels, Obama’s gains among those with the least education are far less significant than they appear, because those without a High School degree comprise only 4.9% of the Democratic primary electorate, and Obama’s +13.3% net gain in that demographic translates to a gain of only 0.6% of the electorate itself.
· Clinton made significant gains in the support of those who graduated high school but did not graduate from college. Her increase in support from this group (which comprised 49.5% of voters) represents a net gain of 3.2% of the electorate.
· Clinton also made gains about those who have completed college (including those who continued their education), a group that comprises 45.8% of votes. Clinton saw a net increase in support equal to 1.6% of the electorate from this group.
TABLE 2 (Data for Charts 2A and 2B)
EDUCATION CHANGE IN SUPPORT CLINTON GAIN/LOSS Clinton Obama Weighed Unweighed Not HS graduate -5.9% +7.4% -0.6% -13.3% High school grad +4.4% -0.6% +1.0% +5.0% Some college +5.0% -2.3% +2.1% +7.4% College graduate +2.3% +0.5% +0.5% +1.9% Postgrad study +3.5% -1.9% +1.2% +5.4%
CLASS ISSUES (INCOME AND EDUCATION)
What happens when these two measures, income and education, are combined?
The media and Obama’s supporters have made much of Obama’s supposed far greater appeal to the “upper middle” and so-call “creative class” elites, while simultaneously attributing Clinton’s success in the March, April and May primaries to racism among the “White working class”. But exit polling data suggests that neither claim has any basis in fact. Although the exit polls themselves do not specifically address the issue of “class”, by looking at trends in income and education data, an approximation of how various socio-economic classes are voting can be determined.
THE ‘UNDERCLASS” – LOW INCOME AND LOW EDUCATION VOTERS FLOCKING TO OBAMA
While the media and Obama’s own supporters have tried to maintain a focus on Obama’s appeal to “upper” class voter, is only among the “underclass” – those voters found on the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder – that Obama showed any net increase improvement relative to Clinton.
· In the lowest income demographic (under $15K), Clinton had been leading Obama in February by 4.7% (HRC 51.3%, BHO 45.6%), but in the March through May primaries, The positions were reversed, and Obama took a 3.3% lead (BHO 51.0%, HRC 47.7%).
· Clinton’s once commanding lead among the lowest educational level demographic (non-High School graduates) declined considerably, from 30.4% in February (HRC 63.6%, BHO 33.2%) to only 17.1% (HRC 57.7%, BHO 40.6%
But because low income and low education level voters make up a relatively small part of the electorate, Obama’s gains in both categories had minimal impact on the overall vote totals.
· Low income voters make up only 7.3% of the primary electorate, and Obama’s gains translated among low income voters translated into only an additional 0.654% of the vote.
· Non-High School graduates make up an even smaller percentage (4.9%) of the electorate, and Obama’s gains in that demographic amounted to only 0.646% of the electorate.
· The closeness of the additional support for Obama from these two demographic groups suggests that the same voters are involved – that the “low income” voters who account for Obama’s gain among that group are also those without a high school degree.
TABLE 3 (Data for Charts 3A and 3B)
THE 'UNDERCLASS' (INCOME AND EDUCATION) SUPPORT LEVELS Unweighed Data Weighed Data Clinton Obama Clinton Obama Under $15K February 51.3% 45.6% 3.7% 3.3% Under $15K Mar-May 47.7% 51.0% 3.5% 3.7% Not HS grad February 63.6% 33.2% 3.1% 1.6% Not HS grad Mar-May 57.7% 40.6% 2.8% 2.0%
WORKING CLASS AND MIDDLE CLASS VOTERS –THE MYTH OF “CLINTON’S RACIST SUPPORT” DEBUNKED
As noted above, both Clinton and Obama received additional support from working class/lower-middle class voters (those making more than $15K but less than the $50K. But while Clinton expanded her lead among these income groups, her biggest gains came among the solidly ‘middle income” voters; (those making $50K to $75K. Clinton also improved on her lead against to Obama among those with just a high school degree, but showed even more significant gains (and took the lead from Obama) among those with some College education and/or an Associates Degree.
Clinton expanded her lead in the $15K to 30K demographic by 1.1%, but because this group makes up only 12.7% of the voters, her gains among these voters represented only 0.1% of the electorate.
Clinton also expanded her lead among those making $30K to $50K, who make up 20.1% of the electorate. Her 1.9% increase translates into a gain of 0.4% of voters
Clinton’s 5% gain among High School graduates lead to her expanding her lead by 1.0% of voters (HS grads made up 20.7% of the electorate.)
In the February primaries, Obama received 2.7% more votes than Clinton, while Clinton received 4.0% more support than Obama in the March, April and May primaries. In other words, the 0.5% combined additional support of the income categories that make up the “White working class” voters whose supposed racism explained Clinton’s recent success made up only 7.6% of her overall gains. (See Note 2) And the net 1% more of voter support from “low information” High School graduates made up less than 1/6 (15.4%) of her increased support over Obama.
Far more substantial gains were achieved by Clinton among the “middle-middle” class, which comprised 21.2% of voters, and those with some educational experience beyond High School, who were 28.8% of voters.
· Obama had a 4.1% lead in February in the “$50K to $75K” in the February primaries, but Clinton’s gains in that category gave her a 5.8% lead in the March to May primaries. That 9.9% shift in support from “middle income” voters translates into a net gain of 2.1% of the electorate.
· Obama also lost the lead among the “Some College” demographic who provided him with a 2.1% lead in February, but gave Clinton a 5.3% advantage in the later primaries. This 7.4% shift within the “Some college” demographic represents 2.1% of the primary electorate.
· Clinton’s net gain of 2.1% of the electorate in both the “50K to 75K” and “Some college” demographics represented slightly over 31% of her overall net gains (6.7%) in support.
TABLE 4 (Data for Charts 4A and 4B)
MIDDLE/WORKING CLASS (INCOME & EDUCATION) SUPPORT LEVELS Unweighed Data Weighed Data Clinton Obama Clinton Obama $15K - $30K February 51.2% 45.0% 6.5% 5.7% $15K - $30K Mar-May 52.6% 45.4% 6.7% 5.8% High Sch. grad Feb. 54.3% 40.4% 11.2% 8.4% High Sch. grad Mar-May 58.6% 39.8% 12.1% 8.2% $30K - $50K February 48.9% 47.2% 9.8% 9.5% $30K - $50K Mar-May 51.1% 47.5% 10.2% 9.5% Some college February 46.9% 49.0% 13.5% 14.1% Some college Mar-May 51.9% 46.6% 15.0% 13.5% $50K - $75K February 45.1% 49.3% 9.6% 10.5% $50K - $75K Mar-May 52.4% 46.6% 11.1% 9.9%
“UPPER MIDDLE” AND “UPPER” CLASS – CLINTON PICKS UP CONSIDERABLE SUPPORT AMONG THE “SMART SET”
While Obama’s claim to superior appeal among the upper income/educational level demographics had some validity in February, the results of the March through May primaries tell a different story. While Obama maintained his lead in most of the demographic categories in this segment of the population, that advantage has been substantially reduced as these voters have taken a closer look at both Clinton and Obama.
· Obama saw the least slippage in support among the “College Graduate” cohort, going from a lead of 10.3% to a lead of 8.4%.
· Obama’s once substantial 11.6% lead in the “Post-Graduate” demographic was cut almost in half, and was only 6.2% in the March through May primaries.
· Upper-middle income ($75K-100K) voters switched sides. In February, Obama had a 4.7% lead among these voters, but a shift of 7.7% of these voters resulted in a Clinton advantage of 3.1% in the March through May primaries.
· Upper income ($100K plus) voters also shifted in large number to Clinton, cutting Obama’s February lead of 9.8% within that group to only 3.0% in the later primaries.
Clinton’s gains among these demographic categories represented substantial portions of the overall primary electorate
· In terms of the overall electorate, upper-middle income voters were 14.4% of the electorate, and the upper income cohort was 24.3% of primary voters. College graduates made up 24.4% of voters, and the “Postgraduate” group was 21.4% of voters.
· Clinton’s gains among upper-middle income voters, upper income voters, College graduates, and “Post-graduates represented shifts in the overall electorate of 1.1%, 1.7%, 0.5%, and 1.2% respectively.
In other words, despite being declared the “inevitable nominee” in mid-February, not only did Barack Obama fail to increase his support in the “class” based categories his campaign brags about, he lost considerable support in those demographics.
TABLE 5 (Data for Charts 5A and 5B)
UPPER MIDDLE/UPPER CLASS (INCOME AND EDUCATION) SUPPORT LEVELS Unweighed Data Weighed Data Clinton Obama Clinton Obama College grad February 42.8% 53.1% 10.4% 12.9% College grad Mar-May 45.1% 53.5% 11.0% 13.0% $75K - $100K February 45.8% 50.5% 6.6% 7.2% $75K - $100K Mar-May 50.7% 47.7% 7.3% 6.8% Postgrad study February 42.8% 54.4% 9.2% 11.6% Postgrad study Mar-May 46.3% 52.5% 9.9% 11.2% $100K or more February 43.8% 53.6% 10.6% 13.0% $100K or more Mar-May 48.1% 51.1% 11.7% 12.4%
NOTE 1 -- METHODOLOGY
All states in which exit polling is available and in which Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were the only two “major” candidates are included in the data for this survey. (In essence, all primary states from Super Tuesday onward.)
Exit polling data was taken from the CBS News website at http://election.cbsnews.com/campaign2008...
Vote totals were taken from official state websites where available, and when those were not available, totals were based on publicly available news sources. A full list of states and the websites from which the data was gotten can be found at http://www.glcq.com/election08/state_lin...
To determine overall percentages, each states exit polling percentages were multiplied by the total number of votes in that state within each category, then those votes were distributed to Clinton and Obama based on the percentages found in the exit polls. (Total votes included only ballots that were counted as having valid votes.) After each candidates vote total was determined for each category in each state, each category, and the candidate’s vote in each category, was summed, and a percentage of the total vote for each candidate in each category was derived from those numbers.
Weighed averages were determined by multiplying the percentage for each candidate in a given category by the percentage that category comprised of the overall vote total. (i.e. if category X comprised 40% of the total vote, and Clinton received 60% of the vote in category X, Clinton’s Category support from Category X comprised 24% (60% time 40%) of the electorate.)
NOTE 2: ROUNDING “ERRORS”
In certain cases, rounding “errors” are responsible for differences in reported changes in support described in the text in certain demographic categories from the data found in the tables and charts. For instance, the percentages in February for the $50K to $75K cohort round to 45.1% for Clinton, and 49.3% for Obama, which looks like a 4.2% lead for Obama. But as noted in the text, that lead is only 4.1%, because the actual Clinton percentage was 45.133% and Obama’s was 49.261%, and the difference between the two is 4.128%.