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Study: Education Deciding Factor In Trump's Election

As state election returns have surfaced amid the aftermath of President-elect Donald Trump's stunning upset Nov. 8, analysis has found that the divide between those with a bachelor's degree and those without was the deciding factor the 2016 presidential race.

Trump has touted his popularity among Americans without a college degree. In February, after winning the Nevada GOP primary race, Trump announced that his success was bolstered by voters with less education, according to The Independent.

"We won with poorly educated," Trump said. "I love the poorly educated!"

The business mogul's affection for those without a college degree makes sense: There is evidence that they were decisive in propelling his campaign into the White House, according to an analysis conducted by The Atlantic.

By examining county ballot counts and comparing them to Census data, the analysis found that the percentage of residents who held a bachelor's degree mattered more in how a county voted than median income, employment or population density.

The analysis found that counties with a higher percentage of residents with a college education were more likely to have voted against Trump, regardless of whether or not they were urban or rural or even if they were surrounded by conservative-leaning neighbors.

The analysis concluded that it was difficult to draw broad observations about what this divide means. The education gap does not necessarily discount the theory that the 2016 election was driven by economic anxiety.

For example, a 2014 study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that the income gap between college graduates between the ages of 25 to 32 was $17,500 greater than their peers without a college degree. In 1979, that gap was only $9,690, according to US News.

This means that even if education was a key motivator in who voted for Trump, that factor could still be chalked up to economics.

Statistician Nate Silver, who had accurately predicted 49 out of the 50 state results in the 2012 presidential election, also noticed that education was the key factor in Trump's victory, according to FiveThirtyEight.

By examining all 981 U.S. counties with populations over 50,000 in the 2016 election, Silver found that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton performed best in the 50 most-educated counties, improving on President Barack Obama's performance in these areas in 2012. Conversely, she performed worse in the 50 least-educated counties, which proved decisive in her defeat.

Silver concluded that the education gap in the U.S. "is carving up the American electorate and toppling political coalitions that had been in place for many years."

Sources: The Atlantic, FiveThirtyEightThe IndependentUS News / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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