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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: ‘It’s the Working-Class, Stupid’

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

Forward to the Working Class, Comrades!

I believe I’ve made this point before.

But it is good to see it underscored by a big data dump and analysis from Democracy Crops, Equis Strategies and HIT Strategies. I’m not crazy about all the data presented here and not sure the approach they recommend to the working class will be quite as efficacious as they think. But at least they asking the right question and have answers that are at least somewhat plausible.

“Policies that make families materially better off and tip balance of power to working people are the pathway to electoral success.

A sweeping nationwide study of working class voters shows Democrats can gain at the ballot box by emphasizing popular economic policies that help families thrive and make big corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes….

One of the most important findings was the discovery that the Democrats’ diverse base and persuadable working class voters have similar priorities for government. A key driver is the popularity of the new expanded Child Tax Credit that is very important to parents and white working class voters under 50 years of age.

Communities remain worried about crime and support messages that favor funding and respecting the police, while also ensuring abusive officers will be held accountable for their actions.

These shared priorities come from recognizing the Democrats’ base is overwhelmingly working class. Fully 70 percent of Black voters in HIT’s battleground survey did not have a four-year degree; even more, 75 percent in EquisLabs’ battleground states. Two-thirds of millennials/Gen Z, 69 percent of unmarried women and 57 percent of white unmarried women also lack a four-year degree.

Stanley Greenberg, founder of Democracy Corps with James Carville, said, “I guess, it’s the working class, stupid! “

May I recommend here my recent piece on The Power of the Working Class Vote? Reading it in conjunction with these new data may be enlightening.

“Nationally and in every state the working class vote is far larger than the college-educated vote. Because of this, if education polarization increases in the manner it has recently, with the college-educated moving toward the Democrats while the working class becomes more Republican, equal-sized shifts favor the GOP. For example, looking first at the national distribution, since the working class share of voters is 70 percent larger than the college-educated share (63 percent noncollege/37 percent college, according to 2020 Catalist data), if a one point increase in Democratic support among college voters is counter-balanced by a one point shift in support against the Democrats among the working class, the net effect would be to reduce the Democratic margin in the popular vote by half a point. If there were 5 point shifts for and against the Democrats in these two education groups, the Democratic margin would shrink by 2.5 points; if 10 point shifts for and against, the result would be a 5 point shrinkage.

This is the national situation. But the power of the working class vote is just as strong in most swing states. According to AP/VORC VoteCast data (Catalist data not yet available on the state level), the working class/college disproportion is even higher than the national average in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. This is perhaps as one might expect.

But consider a state like Arizona. We are used to thinking of it in terms of its increasing race-ethnic diversity, which is helping drive political change in the state. But that trend obscures another fact: it’s still a heavily working class state, significantly above the national average. That means that shifts among working class voters in Arizona are potentially even more powerful than those described for the nation as a whole.”

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