Why Working Class Americans Vote Republican

Gary Younge investigates a conundrum that vexes liberals

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 29, 2012 1:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – Nothing frustrates liberals more than poor Republicans. They are, after all, generally voting against their economic self-interests—government dependency is consistently higher in right-leaning counties. "To many liberals, these are turkeys voting for Christmas or lemmings off for a leap," writes Guardian columnist Gary Younge, who set out to discover why they do it. His conclusion: It's "not simply an issue of income, but primarily race and partly religion and gender." Poor people overall lean Democrat, but poor white people don't.

Part of the explanation too is that poor people are more socially conservative. "If someone's core conviction is that abortion is murder or gay marriage is wrong" then voting Republican "is not an act of delusion but conviction," Younge points out. Some poor people truly believe in free markets and lower taxes on the rich, even if it doesn't benefit them directly. And then there is the potent GOP attack that liberals are snooty elites; "When liberals depict the existence of poor white Republicans as an expression of mass idiocy … they provide conservatives with one of their key talking points." For many more observations, see the full piece here.

Tea Party supporters and union supports show their respective sign during a large demonstration at the State Capitol in Madison, Wis., Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011.
Tea Party supporters and union supports show their respective sign during a large demonstration at the State Capitol in Madison, Wis., Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011.   (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
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So polarised is the nation's politics that a recent poll from the Pew research center revealed that people's views on their financial situation are shaped by their partisan affiliation rather than the other way around. - Gary Younge

Race is so deeply embedded in American history and culture that to talk of where politics ends and race begins sets up a false dichotomy. - Gary Younge

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