Special Report: Who’s Winning America’s Most (and Least) Educated Districts?

Election 2016
Posted By Carrie Wiley on April 12, 2016 at 12:14 pm
Special Report: Who’s Winning America’s Most (and Least) Educated Districts?

In the midst of an election cycle that has already divided the country and pushed the boundaries on party lines, many are trying to understand who today’s voters are – and what’s fueling their decisions.

Analysts from the GoodCall data team got busy crunching numbers to shed light on the educational backgrounds of today’s voters. This report overlays educational attainment rates, a major indicator of the socioeconomic status of individuals and families, with the volume of votes cast in U.S. primaries and caucuses to answer the question: Who’s winning in the most (and least) educated districts in America?

Note: This report does not reflect a 1:1 relationship between voters and their educational background, but rather a correlation of the votes being cast for each candidate in each district and the educational attainment rate of those districts. Data is updated regularly as it is released in county and state voting reports. GoodCall does not endorse any candidate or political party. See the full methodology at the bottom of the page.

I. Who’s winning in the most and least educated districts?

According to GoodCall analysis, Democratic candidates tend to perform better in districts with more highly-educated populations. Republican candidates get more votes in districts where associate degree attainment is highest, with John Kasich in the lead. However, Democrats pull ahead as the level of degree increases, with Democrats leading and Bernie Sanders winning in both districts where bachelor’s and graduate degrees tend to be the highest level of education.

It’s worth noting, however, that Kasich performs somewhat better in highly educated districts than his Republican counterparts – he remains within .5% of Hillary Clinton in districts where bachelor’s and graduate degree attainment is highest.

Republican candidates are performing best in less educated districts, with Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in the lead in districts where a majority of residents do not have any level of college degree.

II. Where are candidates’ votes most concentrated?

Cruz and Donald Trump are leading in votes in districts where bachelor’s degree attainment is low – between 1 and 15% of the population. All 3 Republican candidates, as well as Hillary Clinton, see their votes peak in districts where 16-20% of the population has a bachelor’s degree as their highest level of education. However, above that level of attainment, Trump and Cruz see a steep decline. Votes for Kasich and Clinton decline moderately in districts where 21-25% of the population has a bachelor’s degree, while Sanders is the only candidate whose votes increase in districts at this level of educational attainment. Sanders continues to lead the group up until 35% bachelor’s degree attainment, where Kasich and Clinton inch ahead.

III. State by state – Educational attainment levels of Democratic vs. Republican votes

The map below shows a state-by-state look at the bachelor’s degree attainment in districts that support Republican candidates versus those that support Democratic candidates. Roll over each state to see the average bachelor’s degree attainment rate for democratic vs. republican candidates. Yellow states represent states with reported primary or caucus data; green states represent states whose primary or caucus data has not yet been released. Check back for new data, updated regularly.

 

Methodology:

The educational attainment rate of each voting district was weighted by the number of candidate votes in each voting district. Educational attainment data is from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 2014 5-year estimates. Voting data was pulled from state and county election reports.

This report does not reflect a 1:1 relationship between voters and their educational background, but rather a correlation of the votes being cast for each candidate in each district and the educational attainment rate of those districts. Data is updated regularly as it is released in county and state voting reports. GoodCall does not endorse any candidate or political party.

Educational attainment statuses are defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as representing the following:

Associate: The percentage of residents over the age of 25 who have attained an associate degree as their highest level of completed education.
Bachelor’s: The percentage of residents over the age of 25 who have attained a bachelor’s degree as their highest level of completed education.
Graduate: The percentage of residents over the age of 25 who have attained a graduate or professional degree as their highest level of completed education.

Image sources:
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders: Gage Skidmore
John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump: Michael Vadon

For questions/comments, please contact carrie@goodcall.com.

Carrie Wiley
Email | Twitter | LinkedIn Carrie is graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She has a degree in English and Journalism with a concentration in Professional Writing. She served as news editor of The Seahawk campus newspaper. Since college, Carrie has worked in various digital marketing roles focusing mostly on media relations. Her writing has been featured in Yahoo! Homes and AOL Real Estate. In addition to being GoodCall's Public Relations and Communications expert, Carrie is also a regular contributor to the GoodCall newsroom, covering higher education trends and career news.

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