It’s tempting to attribute Joe Biden’s plummeting poll numbers in key battleground states to his dilatory denunciation of the riots that still ravage their Democrat-run cities. However, the campaign’s fatal flaw is more subtle than Biden’s tacit approval of mob violence. It is rooted in the classism that resulted in his nomination to be the Democratic standard bearer. Among the progressives who control the party it’s an article of faith that President Trump’s base consists of undereducated working-class whites. Thus, they reluctantly supported Biden’s nomination in the hope that “working class Joe” could peel off enough of Trump’s benighted blue collar support to capture the White House.
White voters without college degrees making below the median household income made up only 25 percent of Trump voters.
The problem with this strategy is that it is based on a myth. White voters without college degrees do indeed constitute an important part of Trump’s coalition. But the belief that these Americans are working class clods dumb enough to support a Potemkin candidate nominated by a radicalized party is a progressive fantasy. This is why Biden’s poll numbers remained relatively stable during the ten weeks of riots that preceded the amateurish Democratic National Convention and only began to go south after that cringe worthy event ended on August 20. By the end of August his purported lead over President Trump in the major battleground states had clearly begun evaporating. It has now been cut in half.
In Michigan, for example, RealClearPolitics showed Biden ahead of Trump by a comfortable 8.4 percent margin as recently as July 28. A month later, that lead had decreased by two-thirds and remains at 2.6 percent as of this writing. Likewise, on July 24, the former Vice President led Trump in Pennsylvania by 8.5 percent. That lead has since been cut in half and now stands at 4.2 percent as of Thursday. The story is much the same in North Carolina, where Biden was ahead of Trump by 4.7 percent on July 31. That lead has now dropped to less than 1 percent. Overall, according to RealClearPolitics, Biden’s average lead in the all important battleground states has shrunken from 6.3 percent on July 28 to 3.3 percent.
The source of this downward spiral in Biden’s numbers is the progressive myth that all voters without college degrees are by definition working class and not very bright. Ironically, this nonsense was debunked as early as 2017. Nicholas Carnes of Duke University noticed that the “working class voter” narrative had become a staple of media commentary concerning Trump’s 2016 victory over Clinton and responded with a Washington Post column titled, “It’s time to bust the myth: Most Trump voters were not working class.” Carnes was ill-mannered enough to point out that journalists writing about Trump’s blue collar base had failed to produce any data supporting what had by then become conventional wisdom:
When journalists wrote that Trump was appealing to working-class voters, they didn’t really know whether Trump voters were construction workers or CEOs.… In short, the narrative that attributes Trump’s victory to a “coalition of mostly blue-collar white and working-class voters” just doesn’t square with the 2016 election data. According to the [American National Election Study], white non-Hispanic voters without college degrees making below the median household income made up only 25 percent of Trump voters. That’s a far cry from the working-class-fueled victory many journalists have imagined.
But what about the vast education deficit that allegedly characterizes most Trump voters? This is little more than a variation on the “conservatives are dumb” cliché that has long served as a balm for defeated Democrats and their dysphoric supporters. In Trump’s case, it emerged early in the 2016 primary season and was debunked by Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight: “About 44 percent of Trump supporters have college degrees … higher than the 33 percent of non-Hispanic white adults, or the 29 percent of American adults overall, who have at least a bachelor’s degree.” In the 2016 general election, the percentage of Trump voters with four-year college degrees equaled that of all American adults that year.
This brings us back to the Biden campaign’s fatal flaw. The former Vice President was chosen to lead the Democratic ticket because it was believed he was the candidate most likely to “recapture” the undereducated working class whites who delivered Donald Trump’s 2016 upset victory over Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately for the Democrats and the Biden campaign this voting bloc is nothing more than Beltway swamp gas. As Professor Carnes points out above, white voters without college degrees making below the median household income made up only 25 percent of Trump voters. In other words, only 1 in 4 of Trump’s 2016 supporters can be classified as working class by any reasonable definition of the term.
These voters aren’t dumb enough to fall for Biden’s working class shtick. As the Washington Post recently put it, “Democrats have ceded the working class to the GOP.” Biden’s acceptance speech at the DNC dwelt on such pressing blue collar issues as climate change, gun control, and social justice. He also insulted our intelligence by blaming President Trump for job losses caused by COVID-19. Meanwhile, he has endorsed another nationwide lockdown, called for a universal mask mandate, and taken multiple positions on fracking. The collapse of Biden’s poll numbers may be accelerated by the riots but, ultimately, they mark the inevitable implosion of a campaign built on a progressive myth about Trump’s base.