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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Working Class Discontent Limned in New Poll

The headline is not completely justified by the story, but John Merline’s Investors Business Daily report on a new IBD/TIPP poll on working-class attitudes towards the President and current economic policies and trends should be of interest to Democrats in particular.
Merline explains that self-identified “working-class” respondents in the poll had an average family income of “just over $50,700 (in comparison to those who self-i.d. themselves as “middle class,” who had and average family income of $70,800, and self-i.d. “upper-middle class” with “close to $100,000” in average family income):

By wide margins, this group is more likely to say the country is headed in the wrong direction, the economy is getting worse, and they fear losing their jobs than any other income class…Just 36% approve of the job Obama is doing as president, compared with 43% overall, and vast majorities say his policies haven’t helped the middle class.

Merline adds further,

..nearly two thirds of the working class (64%) say the country is headed in the wrong direction. Nearly as many (60%) say they’re not satisfied with federal economic policies. And 53% say the economy is not improving.
This is in sharp contrast to the views of the upper-middle class. More than half of this group (51%) say the country is headed in the right direction, 53% are satisfied with federal economic policies, and 65% say the economy is improving.
Meanwhile, about 43% of working-class families are worried that they or someone in their household could lose their jobs in the next 12 months. That’s higher than any other income class — even lower-class people are less concerned. Just 28% of the nation as a whole are worried about layoffs.
The working class are even more likely to say their taxes are too high (61% say this) than the middle class (49%), the upper-middle class (48%), or the nation as a whole (52%)..More than half of the working class (53%) hold an unfavorable view of Obama’s leadership, and a similar share disapprove of the job he’s doing. Both are higher than the nation overall…The working class are also more likely to oppose ObamaCare (53% oppose the law) and want it repealed (50%), than the country overall (47% and 44% respectively).
…They also are far more hostile to Obama’s executive action granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants — 62% of the working class oppose it, compared with 49% of the middle class and 48% of the upper-middle class.

Perhaps the only good news for Dems in Merline’s report is that “38% of the working class said they are Democrats, compared with 34% of all those polled,” and a similar racial makeup.” I would add that his Obama approval data seems a little more unfavorable than what we are seeing in other current polls.
Merline doesn’t provide any breakdown of racial data, so his report is of limited value in regard to pinpointing current attitudes of the white working class, which Dems hope will vote at least a little more Democratic in upcoming elections. Insofar as the working class includes all races, the poll is more about how different family income groups perceive current policies, which has some value, though limited, as well. Class remains a more complex social entity, influenced by racial, occupational and regional factors, among others.

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