Among counties in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, counties with a voting bias toward Donald Trump tended to have lower numbers of college-educated citizens. Counties with a voting bias toward Joe Biden tended to have a higher percentage of college-educated citizens. Additionally, this data shows that as bias toward Joe Biden increases, the percentage of voters who have a college degree increases, and as bias toward Donald Trump increases, the percentage of voters who have college degrees decreases.
Visualization & Data
The above visualization depicts voter orientation compared to education level for all counties reporting in the 2020 U.S. presidential election on a county-by-county basis. In the visualization, each plot point is a county in the United States.
For all counties reporting, data was collected on the number of people who voted for Joe Biden and the number of people who voted for Donald Trump. Voter orientation was calculated as a percentage of people voting for one candidate over the other.
The formula for calculating voter orientation was: 100*(#Biden votes – #Trump votes)/(#total votes).
Voter orientation is based on the actual votes cast in each county (difference in votes divided by total votes). So, -100 would mean 100% of the votes were cast for Trump whereas 100 would mean 100% of the votes were cast for Biden.
Another interesting point of context is that the strength of this correlation seems to itself be correlated to income. The following is a graph of the same data (county-level voting bias vs county-level education level) but broken into four different income segments.
In the above visualization, we can see that the higher the relative income of the counties, the stronger the correlation between the percentage of college-educated citizens and voter orientation becomes.
Limitations of this data
It’s important to understand that this data compares the percentage of people with college degrees to the percentage of people who favored one political candidate, and it measures this data at the county level. It does not measure how likely an individual person of a given education level was to vote for a particular candidate.
It’s possible, for example, that people who do not have college degrees but who do live in counties with high numbers of college-educated citizens also voted for Joe Biden. Inversely, it’s possible that people who do have college degrees and who live in counties that have lower percentages of college-educated citizens voted for Donald Trump.
This data doesn’t make claims about how likely or unlike individual voters of given education levels are to vote for one candidate over the other; rather it shows how likely counties of a given education level were to vote for one candidate over the other in aggregate.
This data suggests that counties with higher percentages of college-educated citizens were more likely to vote for Joe Biden than they were to vote for Donald Trump. It also finds that this correlation becomes stronger the as the average income of a county increases. However, it does not make any claims about the likelihood of an individual voter to vote for one candidate over the other.