As the folks at CT mentioned late last year, there has been some data-driven debate in political science circles over this. Using the national election survey, Larry Bartels showed that those in the bottom third of the income distribution are no more likely to vote Republican now than in the past. Generating more heat than light, Franks replied (he takes the bizarre that education alone is the best proxy for class – making the late Kerry Packer a “working class man”).
In my view, the best contribution came from Ed Glaeser and Bryce Ward, who didn’t even realise they were participating in the debate when they showed that the predictive power of income on voting has weakened over recent decades, while the predictive power of churchgoing on voting has strengthened. Glaeser and Ward convinced me, where everyone else failed, that Franks is basically right.
Is the Kansas phenomenon happening in Australia? I doubt it. Using data from the 1966-2001 elections, I found that the predictive power of income had increased in Australia. As in many things, we may at some point start to follow the US voting trend, but I’d be surprised if the worm has turned yet.
Since I wrote this, I’ve been feeling a little guilty. While I don’t agree with everything Frank wrote (eg. his ridiculous attacks on the DLC), his ability to encapsulate red-state America’s hatred of liberals is beautifully incisive.Â I’ve been meaning to post one of my favourite lines from the book.
“Rural America is pissed,” a small-town Pennsylvania man told a reporter from Newsweek in 2001. Explaining why he and his neighbors voted for George Bush, he said: “These people are tired of moral decay. They’re tired of everything being wonderful on Wall Street and terrible in Main Street. Let me repeat that: they’re voting Republican in order to get even with Wall Street.