Democrats Are No Longer The Party Of The Middle Class
Washington — In a new report released today, the progressive advocacy group Third Way conducted an in-depth analysis of the 2004 election results in presidential, House and Senate races and warns that middle class voters sided overwhelmingly with Republican candidates and the trend is increasing. The report, entitled Unrequited Love: Middle Class Voters Reject Democrats at the Ballot Box, cautions Democrats that they face a serious and growing crisis with middle class voters.
The report notes that Democrats have long viewed themselves as the representatives of the middle class, and that view is bolstered by polls showing that Democrats win on issues traditionally viewed as important to voters in that income group. But Third Way’s Vice President for Policy Jim Kessler, who authored the report, said that “this self-perception is really a self-deception. Democrats may feel they win on middle class issues like health care and jobs, but it has not resulted in middle class votes.”
The report examined exit polling data from 2004 federal races and makes five main findings:
• White middle income voters (who constitute one-third of the electorate), delivered landslide margins to Republicans. The economic tipping point — the income level at which whites were more likely to vote Republican than Democrat — was $23,700, not far above the poverty level. Moreover, white middle class and white wealthy class voters conferred the same towering majorities to Republicans.
- Unlike other voters, blacks conferred overwhelming majorities to Democrats, regardless of income level.
- A rapidly growing Hispanic middle class is leaving the Democratic Party.
- With the exception of those with graduate degrees, education level does not predict voting behavior. Education level predicts income, which predicts voting behavior.
- The entrance of married women into the middle class led to a dramatic increase in Republican support.
Kessler said that “middle class voters are the runaway bride of the 2004 election, and Democrats are still standing at the altar, certain that she’ll come back. Democrats may consider themselves the party of middle class, working America — middle class, working America thinks otherwise. Whatever the reason, the self-described party of the middle class has a crisis with the middle class. It is time for Democrats to stop fooling themselves and start making some changes if they intend to regain electoral majorities.”
Contact: Matt Bennett (202) 775-3768 x212