May 14, 2005


Meet the Poor Republicans (DAVID BROOKS, 5/15/05, NY Times)

You've got poor Republicans (over 10 percent of voters) who are hawkish on foreign policy and socially conservative, but like government programs and oppose tax cuts. You've got poor Democrats who oppose the war and tax cuts, but are socially conservative and hate immigration. These less-educated voters are more cross-pressured and more independent than educated voters. If you're looking for creative tension, for instability, for a new political movement, the lower middle class is probably where it's going to emerge.

Already, we've seen poorer folks move over in astonishing numbers to the G.O.P. George Bush won the white working class by 23 percentage points in this past election. Many people have wondered why so many lower-middle-class waitresses in Kansas and Hispanic warehouse workers in Texas now call themselves Republicans. The Pew data provide an answer: they agree with Horatio Alger.

These working-class folk like the G.O.P.'s social and foreign policies, but the big difference between poor Republicans and poor Democrats is that the former believe that individuals can make it on their own with hard work and good character.

According to the Pew study, 76 percent of poor Republicans believe most people can get ahead with hard work. Only 14 percent of poor Democrats believe that. Poor Republicans haven't made it yet, but they embrace what they take to be the Republican economic vision - that it is in their power to do so. Poor Democrats are more likely to believe they are in the grip of forces beyond their control.

The G.O.P. succeeds because it is seen as the party of optimistic individualism.

That same divide produces the gender gap.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 14, 2005 6:52 PM

Isn't the gender gap caused by Roe v Wade? As I understand it, the gender differential in voting is almost entirely due to (young?) single women. And, (young?) single women are such strong supporters of Roe that they are stereotypical one issue voters.

Posted by: Pepys at May 14, 2005 7:09 PM

They also dislike being treated like children and told that their country sucks.

Posted by: Noel at May 14, 2005 7:44 PM

They're also going to love paying $6 a gallon.

Posted by: joe shropshire at May 14, 2005 8:34 PM

The "experts" told us we would be paying $2/g by the early 90s, they were a little off it seems to me.

Posted by: Sandy P. at May 14, 2005 11:37 PM

$ 6 per gallon of gasoline ?
It would require some getting used to, but in the end, it wouldn't much alter the lives or lifestyles of the top three quartiles of American society.
As for the bottom quarter, we could figure out a way to reduce their pain.

It would definitely raise the cost of getting a pizza delivered, though.

In the meantime, assuming that we're talking about slapping another $ 3 per gallon tax on gas and diesel, Federal tax revenues would go up by about $ 600 billion dollars annually.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 15, 2005 12:22 AM