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Tipsheet

How One 2022 Poll Is a Warning to BOTH Parties About Working Class Voters

Jeff Gentner

The 2022 exits do not lie: the middle class has become Republican. It’s something we’ve been seeing since the 2016 election and the emergence of Trumpism within American politics. The Democratic Party of 2022 is out of touch with around 70 percent of the electorate, which doesn’t bode well for liberals if they ever want to win elections again. It wasn’t a red wave, but that was more over voters not trusting the GOP to remain sane than their affinity for liberals’ social agenda items. Democrats lost the House and barely hung onto the Senate, which means gridlock should be a word that voters should get familiar with for the next 18 months. It wasn’t so much the Democrats having a good performance as the GOP just outright botching what could have been a red wave year given all the societal indicators—all of them not favorable to liberals.

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Douglas Schoen, a Democratic pollster, and Robert Green, a data principal at Pierrepont Consulting & Analytics, dissected the factions making up this year’s electorate, unveiling that Democrats have a shot at becoming competitive with working-class voters if they ditch the ‘woke’ antics. The obsession over social issues that nearly three-fourths of the country couldn’t care less about also doesn’t help matters: they can start by trashing the fixation on gender reassignment surgeries for minors. The second point is one other election analysts, like Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics, have mentioned for years. Citing Trende, there are many ways to skin the electoral cat—and this survey highlighted that point again.

The two analysts point out that the Democratic Party caters to roughly a quarter of the country. And yes, they’re the folks we have spoken about here: white, wealthy, over-educated, and insufferable. The die-hard belief that the COVID lockdowns were an effective containment protocol and social policy is the giveaway, along with the hatred of America and the blasé attitude towards the southern border. The latter perspective is primarily because these people are part of the professional elite, who are urban-based and far removed from the mayhem and chaos along the border (via Newsweek):

These are the findings of a new national survey. The poll, which measured the core values and beliefs of 900 likely midterm election voters, found that nearly 70 percent of the electorate embraces a populist outlook, either fully or partially, which is grounded in a desire for politicians to focus on the most immediate barriers to individual advancement.

These voters are most concerned with skyrocketing prices, the looming recession, and rising crime. They also view uncontrolled immigration as a major concern, and see it as intertwined with crime rates.

[…]

There are two segments within this larger populist group. The first, which comprises roughly one-third (34 percent) of the 2022 electorate, can be classified as true "populists." These voters embrace American exceptionalism and the notion of God-given—not government granted—rights. Roughly six in 10 identify as Republican, and only one-in-four voted for Joe Biden in 2020. 

This segment of the American body politic believes in the power of individual initiative and shares the belief that Americans can get ahead if they work hard. A multi-racial category that includes Black and Hispanic voters, populists are averse to identity and class-based politics and view "wokeness" as a backward step and a distraction. 

Three key everyday issues crowd out all the others with these voters, because they threaten individual advancement today: the deteriorating economy, increasing crime rates, and the migrant crisis at the Southern border. 

The second segment, which makes up 35 percent of the electorate, is essentially part-populist or "mixed voters." In 2020, 45 percent of them voted for Biden. They are not as wedded to American exceptionalism and the notion of God-given liberty and freedom as true populists, but they still view the big 2022 issues the same: inflation, recession, crime, and uncontrolled immigration. 

Even though two-thirds of these voters support abortion rights under similar parameters as Roe, they don't view abortion as a top three issue. 

Both "populists" and "mixed voters" view immigration in part through the prism of rising crime rates; they want tougher border controls in large part because uncontrolled immigration is a major source of the fentanyl ravaging many of our communities. 

They also support U.S. oil, natural gas, and nuclear production now to cut rising car and home energy costs as soon as possible. Similarly, as a recession beckons, they want to end our dependence on China to spur U.S. job creation, among other benefits. 

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Yet, it’s the splits between Trump and Biden among the 70 percent who are soft and hardcore populists. One-quarter of the electorate the latter voted for Biden while 45 percent of the former—who also make up 35 percent of the voters—pulled the lever for Joe. We can argue about whether suburban moms pushed Biden over the top until the sun goes down. I’m dead set that these groups, who number in the tens of millions, cost Trump another shot in the White House. A slight defection with these voters in the one-to-five-point range could have potentially lethal consequences, and I know this isn’t epiphanic. It serves as a warning to Republicans: these voters will vote for Democrats, and you cannot always lean on them as the silver bullet. Democrats lost these voters when they decided to declare war on every white voter in sight. Republicans reaped the political dividends of this diaspora but have yet to earn their undying loyalty. It reverts to what many voters say about the two-party system: they’ve abjectly failed to serve the people's interests.

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