President Trump’s strength among less educated white voters has received plenty of attention since his surprise victory in last November’s election. His weakness among well-educated voters has been dissected less thoroughly. But he was nearly as weak among well-educated white voters as he was strong among less educated white voters. His losses — the voters who switched from Mr. Romney to Hillary Clinton — were largest in well-educated but traditionally Republican areas like Georgia’s Sixth.
If Mr. Ossoff wins the election, Republicans can argue — with some credibility — that Georgia’s Sixth was a particularly ripe opportunity for Democrats at a time when Mr. Trump’s ratings among college-educated voters have sunk into the low 30s.
But even if he loses, Mr. Ossoff’s strong performance has already demonstrated that Republicans in well-educated but traditionally conservative areas now shoulder the burden of Mr. Trump’s weak performance. It suggests that previously safe Republican incumbents in Orange County, Calif., or the suburbs of Dallas and Houston could face serious challenges next November. And most important, a close race in Georgia’s Sixth suggests that control of the House is in play, regardless of which candidate comes out on top.
Below, the best-educated districts in the country — the ones Georgia’s Sixth is closest to, at least by education.
1. NEW YORK’S 12TH MANHATTAN, QUEENS. 69 percent of adults (18 and over) have at least a bachelor’s degree.
“Limousine liberal” is a pejorative term, but if we’re looking at pure riches, the best-educated district is also the second-wealthiest district in the country. It also happens to be Donald J. Trump’s home district. It mainly runs along Manhattan’s East Side — from East 96th Street to Alphabet City — but it also cuts across the East River to Long Island City in Queens and Greenpoint in Brooklyn.
Whatever home-district bonus Mr. Trump might have received was swamped by the district’s demographics: He did 15 points worse than Mr. Romney did four years earlier.
2. CALIFORNIA’S 33rd SANTA MONICA, MALIBU. 58 percent have a college degree.
Next come the “Hollywood liberals.” This district has plenty of traditionally Republican turf — Mr. Romney won parts of the district in 2012, even as he lost by 24 points. But Mr. Trump lost many of the few remaining bastions of Republican strength in the district.
3. CALIFORNIA’S 18TH SILICON VALLEY (PALO ALTO, MOUNTAIN VIEW). 57 percent have a college degree.
There shouldn’t be much surprising about this one, and this region has a few more appearances in store on our list. The Bay Area has been a liberal haven for almost a century.
4. VIRGINIA’S 8TH NORTHERN VIRGINIA. 57 percent have a college degree.
Next up is the “D.C. establishment.” Washington doesn’t get a Congress member who can vote on the House floor, but its innermost suburbs are “inside the Beltway,” and much of Washington’s elite lives in the leafy suburbs beyond city limits. It nicely rounds out the list so far, which represent the centers of American financial, cultural, technological and political power.
5. NEW YORK’S 10TH MANHATTAN, BROOKLYN. 57 percent have a college degree.
New York’s 10th runs alongside Manhattan’s West Side, from West 122nd Street all the way down to Battery Park. But oddly, it then jumps over to Brooklyn, hugs the coast for a while, then juts over to include much of south-central Brooklyn, including Borough Park, home to a large Orthodox Jewish community.
6. GEORGIA’S 6TH NORTHERN SUBURBS OF ATLANTA. 56 percent have a college degree.
Georgia’s Sixth doesn’t have much in common with the other districts near the top of this list. It isn’t a capital of some segment of the American elite, and there isn’t an obvious symbol of the district’s cultural, economic or political influence. Politically, the region has been reliably Republican for half a century. .
It’s fair to wonder whether the district will stay so distinctive for much longer. Mr. Ossoff often says he wants to make his district the “Silicon Valley of the South,” and with such an educated work force, it’s not hard to see why. Emory University, Georgia Tech and Georgia State are all just a few miles south of the district.
Most obviously, an Ossoff victory would be a sign that the district’s politics were beginning to look more like those of well-educated suburbs elsewhere in the country.
7. WASHINGTON’S 7TH SEATTLE. 56 percent have a college degree.
Next up are the “latte liberals.” Washington hasn’t voted for a Republican governor, senator or presidential candidate since 1994 — tied for the longest streak in the country (with Delaware) — and Seattle is the big reason for that.
8. CALIFORNIA’S 12TH SAN FRANCISCO. 55 percent have a college degree.
And then the “San Francisco liberals,” led by Nancy Pelosi herself.
9. MASSACHUSETTS 5TH NORTHWESTERN BOSTON SUBURBS. 52 percent have a college degree.
The “Massachusetts” liberals are farther down the list than they would be if the district were drawn in a more compact way. It starts from the campus of Harvard and then splits, reaching off to Boston’s far western suburbs in one direction and back east to the coast in the other. It includes a mix of middle-class towns and wealthy enclaves along the way, but just about all of it voted for Mrs. Clinton in 2016.
10. CALIFORNIA’S 52ND SAN DIEGO, SAN DIEGO SUBURBS. 52 percent have a college degree.
These suburbs north of San Diego used to vote reliably Republican. But they swung hard toward the Democrats over the last decade, and Mrs. Clinton won by 23 points. The Democratic representative now seems safely ensconced in the district. One wonders whether a similar story might be about to play out in other Sun Belt districts, like Georgia’s Sixth.
11. CALIFORNIA’S 17TH SILICON VALLEY (CUPERTINO, SANTA CLARA, FREMONT). 52 percent have a college degree.
The Democratic representatives from these districts are among the most reliably liberal members in the country, even though they represent some of the wealthiest districts. Ro Khanna is no exception. He recently introduced a $1 trillion dollar bill to help working families by roughly doubling the earned-income tax credit. The district is majority Asian-American.
12. VIRGINIA’S 10TH NORTHERN VIRGINIA. 51 percent have a college degree.
Virginia’s 10th was carefully drawn by Republicans to create a G.O.P.-leaning district in heavily Democratic Northern Virginia. It starts just across the Potomac from Washington but avoids the urban areas where defense contractors and lobbying firms have set up shop. It instead mops up the area’s most wealthy and least Democratic suburbs, then extends across rural, conservative parts of Northern Virginia — all the way to the border with West Virginia.
But despite all of this, Mrs. Clinton still won the district in 2016. It might not be able to save the Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock, who enters the cycle as one of the most vulnerable members of Congress. If Mr. Ossoff wins on Tuesday, she’ll be the only Republican representing one of these 15 districts.
13. MARYLAND’S 8TH WASHINGTON SUBURBS. 51 percent have a college degree.
Maryland’s Eighth is a sort of strange mirror image of Virginia’s 10th. It starts on the Maryland-D.C. border right on the other side of the Potomac from Virginia’s 10th. It’s gerrymandered as well, extending all the way to the Pennsylvania border. But this is a Democratic gerrymander, so the goal is the opposite: This district is safely Democratic, and it extends to the countryside to soak up Republican-leaning turf that might otherwise make up a Republican district in western Maryland.
14. VIRGINIA’S 11TH NORTHERN VIRGINIA. 50 percent have a college degree.
All of the heavily Democratic, urban parts of Fairfax County that Virginia’s 10th deftly avoids have been packed into Virginia’s 11th. It’s home to many major defense contractors.
15. ILLINOIS’S 5TH NORTHERN CHICAGO AND WESTERN SUBURBS. 50 percent have a college degree.
Illinois’s Fifth is an odd one. It extends all the way from Lincoln Park, along Lake Michigan, to O’Hare International Airport, then heads south through many suburbs west of the city. It’s exactly the kind of weird-looking district you’d get in one of the most heavily gerrymandered states in the country.
It does nonetheless cobble together plenty of well-educated areas, whether young neighborhoods on Chicago’s north side or office-park-dotted western suburbs.
It’s the only district on this list that voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. He won it by three points.
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