August 10, 2005


For Democrats, a Troubling Culture Gap (Dan Balz, August 10, 2005, Washington Post)

Democrats have expressed bewilderment over Republican gains among lower-income, less-educated voters, saying they are voting against their economic self-interest by supporting Republican candidates. But the new Democracy Corps study concludes that cultural issues trump economic issues by a wide margin for many of these voters -- giving the GOP a significant electoral advantage.

The study is based on focus groups of rural voters in Wisconsin and Arkansas and disaffected supporters of President Bush in Colorado and Kentucky. The good news for Democrats: All the groups expressed dissatisfaction with the direction of the country and with the leadership of the president and the GOP-controlled Congress.

Then came the bad news: "As powerful as the concern over these issues is, the introduction of cultural themes -- specifically gay marriage, abortion, the importance of the traditional family unit and the role of religion in public life -- quickly renders them almost irrelevant in terms of electoral politics at the national level," the study said.

What's most mind-boggling is that even the folks on the Left who recognize that the Party is disconnected from what really matters to people still think that the way to win elections is to run on merely materialist issues. Of course, since they aren't going to change theiur stances on moral questions they really have no other choice but to offer voters free money.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 10, 2005 10:40 AM

Bill Clinton showed in 1992 that if you're willing to lie about where you stand on economic positions without showing any signs of doubt or remorse, you can fool some of the people some of the time, though the Democratic Party paid a price in 1994.

The party's distaste for traditional values and mainstream religion has actually kept the Democrats somewhat honest in those areas about who they are, but it's only a matter of time before the party comes up with a candidate willing to lie during the campaign about their position on social and religous issues without any sign of remorse while planning to reverse course once elected to office. The only question is will the party loyalsts be able to hold their tounges about such positions during the campaign, the way they did with Clinton and his economic proposals, after losing five of the previous six presidential elections.

Posted by: John at August 10, 2005 1:58 PM

The argument that those with lower-incomes should "of course" vote for Democrats completely misses the fact that America is truly a classless society, in that being poor today does not mean you are assured of being poor tomorrow, as it still does in most of the world. Twenty years ago Kevin Turner was a WalMart checkout clerk. He is currently the CEO of Sam's Club, and in September will become the COO of Microsoft.

Posted by: b at August 10, 2005 2:06 PM

It reminds me of a conversation I had with a one of my history professors in college. After discovering that I lived below the official poverty line he asked me how I could possibly vote Republican since I was poor. My answer was that in 10 years I would no longer be poor. I need to get work on that now that I think about it - 10 years is coming up soon.

Posted by: Shelton at August 10, 2005 2:22 PM

Who, other than Democrats, says the Democrat's economic policies actually benefit the poor?

Posted by: carter at August 10, 2005 2:33 PM

the press?

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2005 2:36 PM

Very rich people like Warren Buffett, George Soros, Peter Lewis, Jon Corzine, etc., who couldn't care less about the 'poor' (on a personal level, at least).

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 10, 2005 3:26 PM

I think I know. Here's the syllogism I posit they have:
1) To the Left, economics is a zero-sum game. That means that if someone gets richer then someone else gets poorer.
1-corollary) But it ALSO means that if someone gets poorer then someone else gets richer.
2) The Left's policies will make the rich get poorer.
3) Therefore, since it's zero-sum, the policy will also make someone else richer. And since there are only two groups in society, if the rich get poor, then the group who gets richer is the poor.

Posted by: ray at August 10, 2005 3:57 PM

Cultural values also impact on economic outcomes. For those on the economic margins, a stable marriage can be a very important buffer against poverty. Single women with children tend to be the most impoverished. If you want to pull children out of poverty, start by strengthening marriages.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 10, 2005 4:36 PM

By the standards of the 1890's, or the 1920's, or the 1940's 95% of us are now rich. And being rich, we can afford to turn our thoughts to other goals. It's very funny... Marxism is being buried by prosperity.

The only people who can't see it are the people who never meet or think about the possibility that there might be an 'ordinary working person'. Ordinary people have only a walk-on part in the 24/7 fantasy lives those people lead (in colleges, union offices, newsrooms, etc).

Posted by: ZF at August 10, 2005 5:08 PM

Clinton only fooled 43% of voters in '92.

Posted by: erp at August 10, 2005 5:24 PM

The only big gun the Dems have as a policy proposal is national health insurance. Take away the worry about paying for healthcare with some market-based, economy tied, high-autonomy solution, and the Dems have no broadly appealing issue to run with.

Posted by: Luciferous at August 10, 2005 6:34 PM

They don't like the way the country is going but supports pubbies on social issues.

What am I missing?



What else is there?


Health Care?

Posted by: Sandy P at August 10, 2005 8:28 PM

Have these people ever met any Americans? All Americans think that they are middle-class.

Posted by: David Cohen at August 11, 2005 7:53 AM