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Friday, December 4, 2015

Politifact says 70% of Americans don't have a college degree as of 2015

""Seventy percent of Americans "don't have a college degree."  

Rick Santorum on Sunday, April 5th, 2015 in an interview on "Face the Nation."  

4/8/15, "70% of Americans don't have college degree, Rick Santorum says," Politifact, Katharina Fiedler
"Rick Santorum, a potential candidate for president in 2016, argues that the Republican Party is not offering enough for America’s workers. The former senator from Pennsylvania said Republicans need to improve in reaching out to these voters on CBS’s Face the Nation on April 5, 2015.

"I think people are looking for someone to bring us together. And I put a book out last year called Blue Collar Conservatives, and it's the whole idea that we have to start bringing those who are being left behind by this economy. We have to give them an opportunity to be able to reach that American dream again. And I think Republicans, frankly, have been very weak on that," Santorum said.

After mentioning that Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, did not do a great job in reaching out to the working class, Santorum added:

"I think there's a lot of folks who are very disenchanted with both political parties because neither party is really talking about them and really saying what's the way forward for the 70 percent of Americans who don't have a college degree but, you know, want economic opportunity like everybody else
and nobody's talking about that."

We wondered whether Santorum is correct that 70 percent of Americans don’t have a college degree.
We checked with Santorum’s staff of his organization Patriot Voices, and they sent us an article from Vox about Scott Walker’s lack of a college diploma. The reporter argues that not having a college degree does not really matter since "most Americans — nearly 70 percentdon't have a bachelor's degree
, either." The article doesn’t give a source for its number.

We decided to look for data about educational attainment from the U.S. Census Bureau; we found 2014 data (the most recent available) on the U.S. population by age, race and gender. We focused on the age group of 25 years and over, because most American students graduate by the time they turn 25.

According to census data, 209.3 million people in the United States are 25 years old or older, and 66.9 million have a bachelor’s degree or higher (such as a master’s, professional or doctoral degree). That means about 68 percent of them do not have a bachelor’s degree.  If we include people who have an academic associate degree -- about 11.7 million people -- the percentage of people without a degree declines slightly, to 62 percent.

The U.S. Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics looked at the same question in a 2014 longitudinal study that followed young people to age 27. It found that by that age, 72 percent of respondents did not have bachelor's degrees.

Our ruling 
In making the point that Republicans need to reach out to the working class more
, Santorum said that 70 percent of Americans don’t have a college degree. We found several measures that are close to the number Santorum cited. Overall, we rate his claim True."

Added: In Sept. 2012 AP reported on Romney's failure to connect with white, working-class voters in must-win state of Ohio:

9/25/2012, "Romney, Obama zero in on Ohio, a GOP must-win," by Charles Babington and Kasie Hunt, Vandalia, Ohio

"Romney is scrambling to reverse the polls that show Obama ahead....But he's having mixed success with his chief target: white, working-class voters who are socially conservative and often have union backgrounds. A generation ago they were called "Reagan Democrats."...He is having trouble connecting with middle-class Ohioans....

Romney campaign political director Rich Beeson told reporters Tuesday that Romney's campaign has 40 offices in Ohio to Obama's 100, but he said Republicans are keeping pace."...


Ohio 2012: Romney vs Obama

Final popular vote in Ohio 2012: Obama, 2,827,621. Romney: 2,661,407


Ed. note: A candidate who appealed to non-degree voters nationally could win in landslide since potential voters without college degrees greatly outnumber those with degrees.


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