Posted on November 7, 2020

Race, Class and the Two Melting Pots

Michael Lind, Tablet, November 4, 2020

For a long time, I’ve suspected there are two melting pots, not one, in the United States. Some of the polling data from the election supports this idea.

In the past, immigrants to the United States tended over time to assimilate to the regional culture and dialect. {snip}

But the nationalization of American society has made social class, measured by education, more important than regional divides in culture and politics. Immigrant groups can be expected to assimilate to the politics and values of the educational/occupation stratum in which they are concentrated. The diverging political paths of Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans in the last few election cycles suggest this is happening.

In Texas, Donald Trump got only 26% of the Asian American vote in both 2016 and 2020, according to exit polls. {snip}

But Trump’s share of the Hispanic vote in Texas climbed. In 2016, Hispanics preferred Clinton 61-34%. In this year’s election, the gap narrowed to 59-40%. {snip}


Do differing levels of educational attainment explain these electoral trends in Texas and elsewhere? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2016, 54% of Asian Americans age 25 and older had bachelor’s degrees, compared to only 35% of non-Hispanic whites and only 15% of Hispanics. (21% of African Americans who were 25 years and older had bachelor’s degrees.)


While authorized Hispanic immigrants tend to become citizens through the family unification program, Asian Americans are over-represented in the college and skilled worker pipelines to green cards and citizenship. Through diversity training on campus and in large, mostly-liberal corporations, they are socialized into progressive culture and ideology—including, paradoxically, the idea that they belong to an “over-represented” minority. Meanwhile, it appears that longer-resident and second-generation Hispanics without college educations are assimilating to the norms and culture of non-college-educated working class whites in their regions.


Because Americans tend to marry others of the same social class, this suggests that two melting pots might be bubbling away in the United States—a small college-educated, professional-managerial overclass melting pot, largely white and Asian American and leaning Democratic; and a larger high-school-educated working-class melting pot, largely non-Hispanic white and Hispanic and leaning Republican. {snip}