The French economist Thomas Piketty, who made his name with Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2013), has another book out next year called Capital and Ideology in which he looks at changing patterns of voting behavior in Britain, France and America. One of his findings is that, until quite recently, the more educated voters were, the more likely they were to vote for right-of-center parties. Now, the opposite is true. Which might explain why Donald Trump declared at the height of the 2016 presidential election: ‘I love the poorly educated.’
Piketty has already published a paper about this and the data he’s accumulated is eye-catching. For instance, just 45 percent of people who graduated high school but didn’t go to college voted for Hillary in 2016, compared with 70 percent of those with master’s degrees and 75 percent of those with PhDs. This isn’t an exact inversion of the 1992 presidential election, but it’s close: 55 percent of those with a high school education voted for Bill, her husband, but only 41 percent of those with a college degree.
There’s plenty more evidence of the leftward shift among college graduates. A Pew survey carried out before the last presidential election found that 24 percent of college graduates describe themselves as ‘consistently liberal’, compared with just 5 percent in 1994. Among those with graduate degrees, the change was even greater – from 7 percent in 1992 to 31 percent in 2015. And, as we know, the young in general are becoming more left-wing. A Harris poll this year found that 61 percent of Americans aged 18-24 had a positive reaction to the word ‘socialism’, compared with 58 percent reacting positively to the word ‘capitalism’. That echoes a Gallup poll in 2018 which found only 45 percent of 18- to 29-year-old Americans view capitalism favorably, down from 68 percent in 2010. (To read more, click here.)