The working class vote of 2012 has different concerns than the working class vote of 1979. By Tim Montgomerie. ConservativeHome, November 20, 2012.
Henry Olsen: The GOP needs to be more inclusive. Video. American Enterprise Institute, November 8, 2012. YouTube.
One of the most talked about groups in recent elections has been the white working class. Although the group has declined as a share of the nation since World War II, it is still very large at nearly 40 percent of the national electorate. Understanding its views and values is essential to political victory, so it isn’t surprising that politicians of all stripes are working hard to gain such an understanding. Andrew Levinson’s insightful new book The White Working Class Today: Who They Are, How They Think, and How Progressives Can Regain Their Support tries to provide his fellow progressives with a road map for success with a group Democrats have lost by double digits in recent elections. But the book is more valuable as a source of data and information crucial to strategists of all ideological stripes.
Working class whites also hold more nuanced views on immigration and government’s role to provide for the poor than conservatives usually surmise. Levinson shows that large majorities of working class whites think increased immigration is bad for America and favor increased border security rather than immigration reform. But they also strongly oppose free trade agreements. Pew found that the poorest and least-educated part of the white working class, labeled “Disaffecteds,” think free trade agreements are bad for the United States by a two-to-one margin. These people are being pressed by competition from foreigners at home (immigration) and abroad (free trade), and they don’t like it. Conservatives therefore often do not gain the political advantage on immigration that they seek because their free trade views convince working class whites that conservatives are not on their side.