The Middle Class And The Emerging Democratic Majority

looks at realignment between the parties. For the most part, what he is describing  coincides with topics I have discussed before.

In the past 40 years, the industrial economy has evolved into an information economy. This economic change has transformed the middle and lower classes, culminating in a partisan realignment in the middle class. If there is an ascendant Democratic coalition, it is centered here.

The new information economy is more service oriented, less industrial, and more dependent on the creative use of knowledge and computer technology. Anthony Carnevale and Donna Desrochers and the National Association of Colleges and Employers note that the new economy prizes such skills as critical thinking, problem solving, working in teams and analyzing quantitative data.

This economy is dividing the higher skilled and the lower skilled. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the fastest-growing jobs among less-skilled workers will be low-paying occupations such as home health aides and medical secretaries. The fastest-growing jobs among more-skilled workers will be higher-paying occupations such physical therapists, post-secondary health-care teachers, information security analysts and interpreters/translators…

Meanwhile, the political partisanship of the middle class is trending Democratic. Data from the General Social Survey show that, since 2004, the self-identified middle class has moved toward the Democrats (see these charts). These shifts are particularly pronounced among those ages 18-39, men, the college educated, whites and Protestants.

Why would these economic changes push the middle class toward the Democratic Party? Because an increasing number of the middle class are employed in the relatively lucrative knowledge, professional and high-tech sectors, and they benefit from Democratic initiatives in education, alternative energy, scientific research and civil rights. Moreover, younger people, whites and men who have encountered deepening employment challenges profit from Democratic employment initiatives. In addition, a byproduct of increasing educational attainment among these groups is a rising social liberalism, including support for gay rights, legalization of marijuana and women’s reproductive rights.

This is consistent with what we have previously seen, with Republicans having the support of the ultra-wealthy, but relying on low information, working class white males for their votes. These are most swayed by the Republican use of racial fears and xenophobia. Those with more education have generally voted Democratic with some exceptions. While those whose education is in business might be more likely to vote Republican, professionals and those in the knowledge industries have been more likley to vote Democratic.

His conclusion is consistent with these trends but contains one element which many do not consider. The emerging Democratic majority includes middle class white males:

My argument naturally shares some affinities with other proponents of a pro-Democratic realignment, such as John Judis and Ruy Teixeira. But I see this realignment as being driven in part by groups not typically considered part of the “rising American electorate” — such as whites and men within the middle class. The emerging Democratic coalition is broader and deeper than many have suggested, and it is less reliant on the support of the poor, urbanites, minorities, women and highest-educated.

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1 Comment

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    JimZ says:

    One can hope. These days the GOP is playing an effective rear guard action on a state by state basis. Big money also has an effect, pouring it into TV ads for frankly mediocre or worse, idiotic candidates for everything from school board to US Senate. The young/middle age white male segment would be a welcome return, and logical, as so many of them have for so long been voting against their own interests.

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