The Rich and the Aspirational Classes

Leaving aside the distinction between the rich and the ultrarich ($200,000+ pa skews Republican, $10 million+ pa skews Democratic), note that

A Wall Street Journal) poll last month showed that only 37% of professionals and managers identify themselves as Republicans or leaning that way. A YouGov/Polimetrix poll for _The Economist finds that only 44% of those earning more than $150,000 plan to vote Republican. So it is no surprise—though historically astonishing—that the Democrats’ presidential candidates have raised substantially more than Republican ones.

All this erosion among the “merely rich” makes you wonder about how diabolically effective the alleged Project for a New American Plutocracy has really been. (It also relates closely to Tom Davis’s departure from Virginia’s 2008 Senate race.)

Danny Finkelstein had an insightful post earlier this month on the target audience for the British center-right.

Über-modernisers argue that the real core vote for the Conservatives, the people who have elected Tory governments for a century, are the middle class, and particularly women. The experiences, views and aspirations of this core have changed massively in the past 20 years and the Tory party failed to change with it. Instead the party chased after new voters who shared traditional Tory prejudices. This group is too small, lives in the wrong places and is disinclined to vote Conservative.

The situation in the United States is different, of course. In the United Staes, the number of voters who hold conservative prejudices and yet haven’t traditionally voted Republican is faily large and and well-situated, politically speaking. But chances are Republicans have tested the limits of this group: it’s not growing particularly fast, and the party hasn’t done much to cement their loyalty. A better target might be “the aspirational classes,” which overlaps with the socon swing voters fairly well yet extends well beyond this group. So jettisoning some number of voters who aren’t particularly tax-sensitive (which Republicans have been doing for years) isn’t necessarily fatal, though there’s no reason not to at least try to address this outflow by paying closer attention to quality-of-life issues.

The tougher question is, of course, how Republicans should go about targeting the aspirational classes.