Thursday, October 27, 2016

Money and Politics in America

Hillary is poised to be the first Democrat in 60 years to win a majority of white voters with college degrees. According to some polls, Hillary is also poised to be the first Democrat in two generations to win whites earning more than $75,000 a year; ABC News has her leading by 6 percent in this category.

This change has been in the works since the 1990s, but it has accelerated in this election. In 2008 Obama won in a landslide but still lost college-educated whites by 4 percent; in 2012 Romney won them by 11 percent.

There has been a major decoupling of voting from economics. After all Hillary is promising a much bigger tax increase on the wealthy than Obama's modest hike, and measures that will help the poor and struggling. But she is set to win the people she wants to tax, and among whites she will lose the people she wants to help.

Hillary's voters are the people who feel that they are winning. This spring Pew asked people, “compared with 50 years ago, life for people like you in America today is worse, better or the same?”
The optimists: Clinton supporters (59 better, 19 worse), Democrats (55-23), white college grads (43-39), African-Americans (51-20), voters with post graduate degrees (51-29). A separate June 2016 Pew survey of Hispanic voters found that 81 percent of Clinton supporters expect their family’s finances to improve in the near term, and 72 percent said they expect their children to be better off than they are.

The pessimists: Trump supporters (81 worse, 11 better), Republicans (72-17) and whites without college degrees (60-28).
A PRRI poll came up with similar results:
About seven in ten likely voters supporting Donald Trump (72%) say American society and way of life has changed for the worse since the 1950s, while seven in ten likely voters supporting Hillary Clinton (70%) say things have changed for the better.
I always used to mock Republicans who ran against "the elite," since every year Republicans won a majority of the wealthy and well-educated. But now it seems to be true; the elite really is for the Democrat to an unprecedented degree. (According to one poll, Hillary leads among people with graduate degrees 74-14.)

I wonder how long this will go on; it seems odd that the party proposing big tax cuts for millionaires and cuts to Social Security keeps winning a majority of white votes who depend on Social Security to get by. Can such a pattern be stable? Right now people seem more invested in social issues, but won't economics re-assert itself eventually?

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