Reagan Democrats Are Not Coming Back


Yesterday at TPMCafe, Rick Perlstein kicked off a week-long examination of his new book Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. I’ve been asked to join this week’s cafe (a fun departure from writing about politics through a feminist lens), and I recommend checking it out, because the book is wonderful. And very relevant to today’s post topic: “Reagan Democrats“. The seeds of creation for this group of voters means they’re probably more “Nixon Democrats”, a name that would at least show how fruitless getting them back into the fold might be.



Ezra’s post gently puts to rest the ancient Democratic hobbyhorse of lamenting the loss of that percentage of white working class voters that long ago quit voting their economic interests and started voting against uppity black people and women, and against the “liberal elite”. Interestingly, the “elite” label doesn’t quite cut it when it comes to liberals—the lower you go on the income ladder, the more liberal you tend to be statistically speaking:







So why do Republicans win when (because of Republican policies no less), the number of people falling below the cutoff line greatly outnumbers the people falling above it? In part, because the higher you get up the income ladder, the more likely you are to vote. Also, there’s racial issues (gender a bit less, because while women are more liberal than men, they also vote more regularly, so it probably evens out):

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