It’s not news to political scientists that in the United States today there is a strong correlation between wealth and political engagement. As this new survey from the Pew Research Center confirms, the more economically secure Americans are, the more likely they are to vote or to contact their elected officials. Yet, the political disengagement of the American working class has a strongly disproportionate impact on the Democratic Party.
The Pew study shows that Democrats lose potential working class votes in two ways. First, while the largest percentage of financially insecure Americans prefer Democrats to Republicans, they are also the least likely to vote. In other words, the party is failing to mobilize many of its existing supporters on election day. Second, the Pew study also shows that financial insecurity is strongly correlated with ideological incoherence. The least financially secure are the most likely to have no preference between political parties and are the most likely to have inconsistent ideological views. The U.S. Left is still failing to define a clear ideological space for the working class.
The Democratic Party could dominate American politics – but only by transforming itself into a working class party devoted to mobilizing those most impacted by the past three decades of increasing economic inequality.