In February 2016, when Donald Trump was merely one of several contenders for the Republican U.S. presidential nomination (and still considered something of a longshot), he surprised many pundits by winning the preponderance of delegates in three straight contests: the New Hampshire primary, the South Carolina primary, and the Nevada caucus.
Contemporaneous reporting of the latter contest noted that Trump did particularly well among “less educated voters”:
Trump did well across the board in Nevada, garnering 45.9% of the vote, but he did even better among voters with a high school education or less. Fifty-seven percent of those voters supported him, according to entrance polls.
The next closest candidate among high-school-or-less voters was Ted Cruz, who had 20%.
That’s a sizable gap of 37 percentage points.
Trump didn’t just win with less educated voters … he crushed it.
Afterwards, in a speech to supporters, Trump touted how many different demographic groups he won in Nevada, declaring that “We won the evangelicals. We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated,” before exclaiming “I love the poorly educated!”:
As is often the case, it was difficult to discern whether Trump’s remark about loving “the poorly educated” was meant literally or ironically or jokingly. Some observers reacted to it with dismay, while others defended it.