Losing White College Grads

Despite Joe Biden’s plummeting popularity, which in some polls has fallen below 30 percent, his party, according to a New York Times survey, seems well poised for the midterms. While 40 percent of those surveyed would vote Republican in congressional races, 41 percent stand with the Democrats. In what was predicted to be a devastating year for his party, Biden’s disapproval ratings may not be affecting other Democrats, and this is because of a noteworthy trend.

For the first time in a Times/Siena national survey, Democrats had a larger share of support among white college graduates than among nonwhite voters—a striking indication of the shifting balance of political energy in the Democratic coalition. As recently as the 2016 congressional elections, Democrats won more than 70 percent of nonwhite voters while losing among white college graduates.

Patrick Basham’s Democracy Institute offers somewhat different figures, which indicate that Republicans may enjoy as much as a seven-point lead in the generic poll. But looking at my state of Pennsylvania, I have to wonder.

John Fetterman, an unkempt Bernie Sanders doppelgänger, has a nine-point lead in the U.S. Senate race against Dr. Mehmet Oz. Meanwhile, woke Democrat Josh Shapiro is leading his Republican opponent Doug Mastriano in the gubernatorial race. In Georgia, Raphael Warnock has opened up a 10-point lead in the Senate race against football legend Herschel Walker.

Both of these black candidates have been plagued by personal problems: in one case, the accusations by Warnock’s former wife that he ran over her foot during a domestic squabble; and in the other case, revelations that Walker has fathered children out of wedlock. But only the Republican candidate has seen his support hemorrhage after news about his personal life was publicized. Needless to say, both the state and national media have been far more energetic in playing up Walker’s embarrassment. In Warnock’s case, the national media rushed to charge Warnock’s aggrieved wife with being a liar.

The worst problem that the non-Left may face in the future, however, is the loss of the college-credentialed class. Although I feel deep reservations about those who have produced some of our most destructive wokesters, losing educated white people en masse can nonetheless hurt. College graduates are more likely than other groups to make things happen financially and culturally. If the woke Left has captured the vast majority of this demographic, then we face enormous difficulty in trying to take back the country.

My county and borough were once thoroughly conservative, but both are changing. This is reflected in the heavily Democratic majorities provided by racial minorities and increasingly by college-educated whites in the city of Lancaster and in the surrounding suburbs. But even more importantly, there is a sprawling leftist infrastructure that now embraces the largely Pennsylvania Dutch borough in which I live. Although a solid majority of the votes still lean Republican, the belief system is being reshaped by the Left.

The German concept Bedeutungshoheit—sovereignty in determining the meaning of things—explains what is at stake. When vital cultural institutions fall into leftist hands, and our side can’t generate a suitable resistance, it’s only a matter of time before the better-equipped side furnishes the dominant views. Our public schools now belong to the NEA; our largest county daily, Lancaster Newspapers (for which I used to be a columnist), reads like a badly edited version of the Washington Post, interspersed with local trivia. 

The other day, for example, I learned from listening to our NBC affiliate that a nearby high school was becoming a suppurating source of transphobia. Athletes there must suffer the indignity of competing in sports events according to their biological sex. Meanwhile, our Democratic governor is being praised for looking after “women’s health issues,” which the other party, we are led to believe, is callously ignoring. Supposedly the January 6 commission was proving that Donald Trump had incited an insurrection. To my knowledge, the news show offered no countervailing information that might challenge that party line. My wife tried to explain as I began to rant: “Everyone knows it’s lies.”

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. White professionals may well believe what they’re hearing. Certainly, those who work in the college where I taught, a stone’s throw from my house, think exactly like the news announcers, the editors of the Lancaster Newspapers, and our unionized school teachers. Some devout Evangelicals have made it onto the school board, but they seem terrified that the local media will go after them and therefore avoid public pronouncements. (They would not respond when I tried to contact them several times.) In 2020, some residents placed Trump signs on their lawns, but most of them were torn down. Now, most of the signs in my neighborhood celebrate Democratic politicians, while BLM posters have surfaced on the next block.

I’m delighted that Democrats are bleeding Hispanic voters and that our working class has been spared academic indoctrination. But we can’t afford to lose white professionals to our hegemonic leftist institutions.

About Paul Gottfried

Paul Edward Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.

Photo: Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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