Democrats’ Long Goodbye to the Working Class

Democrats’ Long Goodbye to the Working Class. By Ruy Teixeira in The Atlantic. Even the left are starting to pay attention.

As we move into the endgame of the 2022 election, the Democrats face a familiar problem. America’s historical party of the working class keeps losing working-class support. And not just among white voters. Not only has the emerging Democratic majority I once predicted failed to materialize, but many of the nonwhite voters who were supposed to deliver it are instead voting for Republicans.

This year, Democrats have chosen to run a campaign focused on three things: abortion rights, gun control, and safeguarding democracy — issues with strong appeal to socially liberal, college-educated voters. But these issues have much less appeal to working-class voters. They are instead focused on the economy, inflation, and crime, and they are skeptical of the Democratic Party’s performance in all three realms. …

The great realignment in numbers:

From 2012 to 2020, the Democrats not only saw their support among white working-class voters — those without college degrees — crater, they also saw their advantage among nonwhite working-class voters fall by 18 points. And between 2016 and 2020 alone, the Democratic advantage among Hispanic voters declined by 16 points, overwhelmingly driven by the defection of working-class voters. In contrast, Democrats’ advantage among white college-educated voters improved by 16 points from 2012 to 2020, an edge that delivered Joe Biden the White House

Polling points to a continuation of these trends in 2022. Democrats are losing voters without college degrees while running up the score among college-educated voters. …

Trump’s victory was attributable, above all, to the shift of white working-class voters, including many who had voted for Obama, into the Republican column. In the country as a whole, the Republican advantage among white working-class voters went up by six points to a staggering 31-point margin. White college-educated voters went in exactly the opposite direction, increasing the Democratic advantage among these voters by six points.

It’s not “racism,” but class interests/warfare:

A number of views correlated with Trump voting, including some aspects of economic populism — opposition to cutting Social Security and Medicare, suspicion of free trade and trade agreements, taxing the rich — and traditional populist attitudes such as anti-elitism and mistrust of experts. But many Democrats paid the most attention to studies showing that “racial resentment” and “status threat” bore a strengthened relationship to Republican presidential voting in 2016.

A rigorous accounting of vote shifts toward Trump, however, shows that they were concentrated among white voters — particularly those without college degrees — with moderate views on race and immigration, and not among white voters with high levels of racial resentment. The political scientists Justin Grimmer and William Marble concluded that racial resentment simply could not explain the shifts that occurred in the 2016 election. In fact, Trump netted fewer votes from white voters with high levels of racial resentment than Mitt Romney did in 2012. …

Trump’s supporters integrated hostility toward immigration, trade, and liberal elites with a sense of unfairness rooted in a conservative, race-neutral view of avenues to upward mobility. That is why voters in Trump-shifting counties, whose ways of life were being torn asunder by economic and social change, found his message so attractive.

Such understanding was nowhere to be found, however, in Democratic ranks. Instead, the party chose to see in Clinton’s defeat a validation of her message, that racism and xenophobia were the country’s defining forces.

The party of the working class became the party of the professional class, the bureaucrats, identity politics (to buy the support of groups, e.g gays, blacks), and welfare recipients. Pretty much the opposite of the deplorable working class.

The left still isn’t admitting it — because it turns their virtuous image of themselves upside down. But ignoring reality has always been their strong point.

Glenn Reynolds:

Its base didn’t “erode,” it was ejected. The main bonding element among the Democrats’ leadership class is contempt — loudly expressed — for the working class and for “normie” voters in general.

Luxury beliefs don’t have mass market appeal. And it’s hard to build a majority based on contempt for, well, the majority.

Party of the working class? Sure.