""Seventy percent of Americans "don't have a college degree."
Rick Santorum on Sunday, April 5th, 2015 in an interview on "Face the Nation."
"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
"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 percent — don'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.
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
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.