Ron Brownstein is one of the more acute observers of American politics and his analysis of the GOP race through the prism of education has been invaluable. From his latest at The Atlantic:
In South Carolina Trump’s core asset — and the key to his performance among evangelicals — remained his extraordinary hold on working-class Republicans. In South Carolina, Trump won fully 42 percent of white GOP primary voters without a college degree, exactly the same imposing percentage he carried in New Hampshire. In South Carolina, Trump won almost exactly as many non-college whites as Cruz (24 percent) and Rubio (17 percent) combined. In New Hampshire, Trump carried more non-college whites than his next three closest competitor combined. Only in Iowa did Cruz narrowly edge Trump among working-class whites. . . .
Critically, Trump’s success with blue-collar voters crossed the religious boundary. In South Carolina, according to figures provided by CNN’s polling director, Jennifer Agiesta, Trump carried a stunning 44 percent of Evangelical voters without a college degree, as much as the combined vote for Cruz (29 percent) and Rubio (15 percent). Among blue-collar voters who were not Evangelicals, Trump (at 38 percent) also buried Cruz (16 percent) and Rubio (13 percent), with Ohio governor John Kasich actually leading both (at 17 percent).
That largely followed the pattern from New Hampshire where Trump beat Cruz by 13 percentage points among blue-collar voters who were Evangelicals, and by a crushing 36 points among those who were not. In Iowa, Trump had also comfortably carried the working-class voters who were not Evangelicals, but Cruz had amassed a solid double-digit lead among blue-collar Republicans who were.
Trump, in other words, has now carried in all three states voters who fit the historic description of “Reagan Democrats”: blue-collar voters who are not Evangelicals. If Trump can also maintain the advantage among the non-college Evangelicals he’s established in the past two contests, that will make him very tough to beat in upcoming Southern (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi), border (Tennessee, Oklahoma), and even Midwest states (Ohio and Missouri) that contain large numbers of both working-class and born-again voters.