The Investor Class Rises

John Zogby finds that the "investor class" is a political reality and one that may bring a new Republican realignment. As he states:

Too often, Democrats today cannot understand why so many voters choose the Republicans. They note that most voters agree with the Democrats, so the only reason they do not vote for them must be a lack of good candidates. In fact, my polls consistently show that most voters agree with the Democrats on some things and with the Republicans on other things.

What sways the investor class to vote Republican is the fact that it does not see itself as a disadvantaged group, and does not see government as the solution to its problems. It aspires to bigger and better things; if not now, in the future. The Democratic party, however, has traditionally appealed to minority groups such as liberals, women’s rights advocates, gay people and union groups that see government as a solution to social problems. It has a tendency to think in terms of economic victims and tailors its message and its policies accordingly. But investors see themselves as an opportunistic group with a basic message to government to "get out of the way".

Zogby has hit the nail on the head with this analysis. The Democratic Party has constantly tailored its message to appeal to the class of victimhood. Al Gore’s message in 2000 is the same as the one the Democrats are playing for 2004 – "the people versus ‘the powerful’". It boils into an essentially classist argument – that the reason people aren’t doing well is because the government isn’t doing enough for them.

Except that message invariably rings hollow for many voters. The government is doing more for people than it ever has – and the results have been more onerous burdens on the very people who are just starting to succeed. In the process of punishing "the rich" the people who are often the most impacted are the small-business owners who are the backbone of the American economy. The super-rich can afford more taxes (and tend to vote Democratic because of it) and the middle-classes are the ones who can ill-afford to bear the burden.

The message of the Democratic Party is one that fails to resonate with the millions of Americans who belong to the investor class and who see government as a problem rather than a savior. The investor class is a political reality, and unless the Democrats can actually tailor a message that appeals to them, they will only continue to become more marginalized in American politics.

3 thoughts on “The Investor Class Rises

  1. You are very much overestimating Republican electoral advantage. Republicans failed to win the popular vote in the most recent Presidential election. Even in the Republican-leaning 2002 midterms, most races were close, but the Republicans were able to benefit in the end by playing the role of patriot police and branding dissenters as traitors in places of the country where wartime nationalism runs high. Beyond that, the GOP almost always has an advantage in midterm elections. Even in Minnesota, where made some substantial great gains, none of the four Republicans elected to statewide office was able to get a 50% majority.

    I will concede that the GOP does have a fairly obvious advantage as electoral votes are distribute regionally. Ultimately, however, the GOP’s long-term prospects are gloomier than what you project the Democrats’ current prospects are because of one giant dark horse you guys aren’t even considering….immigration. Take a look at California. It was a competitive state 20 years ago, and in fact had a slight Republican advantage. Massive waves of Hispanic immigration has completely turned California around, making it one of the Democrats five strongest states in 2003. California’s neighbors Arizona and Nevada, both uncontested GOP strongholds 20 years ago, have seen similar influxes of immigration over the same years, and the GOP margins are getting narrower and narrower with election in both states. In fact, Clinton won Arizona once and Nevada twice. Now, take a look around you. It’s not just the Southwestern states that are being transformed by immigration…it’s every state in the union. The same immigration laws that allow Republican constituencies to take advantage of cheap and disempowered immigrant laborers to suppress wage levels are ultimately dooming their party to perennial irrelevance in the not-so-distant future. Even rapidly-changing Southern states like North Carolina and Georgia are likely to discover themselves far less conservative places in another 20 years as the slaughterhouse- worker immigrants and their offspring change the regional dynamic the same way immigrant groups already have in California, Nevada and Arizona.

    I don’t have time to refute your “investor class” argument, but the fluctuations of polls as evidenced in the summer of 2000 when Gore went from a 20-point deficit to a 10-point advantage following one speech should be an excellent example of just how shaky the ground Republicans stand on with this fickle and poorly-informed electorate. The only thing the GOP has going for it now is that it’s able to appeal to its citizens most gluttonous instincts by giving them their children and grandchildren’s money through deficit-budget tax cuts. Once that bubble bursts, the damage will already be done, but I can assure you it won’t be the Democrats that will be blamed by voters.

  2. The problem with the immigration thesis is that Hispanics tend to vote less than others, they tend to be more socially conservative than the DNC, and they also have a strong work ethic. Rather than being a boon to the Democrats, immigration could well be an advantage to the GOP.

    Nor is the investor class fickle or poorly-informed. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Those who have a vested interest in political outcomes tend to be more informed about candidate positions and tend to vote more on policies than along party lines.

    The Democrats only hope for making significant electoral gains in 2004 is if the Republicans screw up by tacking too far to the right on social issues (which is always a possibility). Even then, it’s looking like the chances of a repeat of 2002 are very high.

  3. As more Hispanics become naturalized, which is a very long process, more will vote. Bush and the GOP repeatedly tries to figure clever ways to allow their labor to be legally extracted but their potential for voting rights to be denied, as he was frighteningly close to pulling off with Mexico before 9-11. Even so, the number of Hispanics and their offspring already in the system is changing things quickly enough, which you are gonna have a brutally difficult time denying with the three states I cited as examples in my previous post. My Minnesota county is another example. 20 years ago it was strong GOP country. Now, after 15 years of massive Hispanic influxes that have had it the most Hispanic county in Minnesota, the DFL has a slight advantage.

    Furthermore, your predictions of “wait till the next election..them minorities are gonna become Republicans…you’ll see” have been echoed for several decades by GOP strategists, but never materialize. With blacks, the prediction in 2000 was that Bush would make substantial gains but he actually received a lower percentage of the black vote than Bob Dole. Clearly, Clarence Thomas and Chaka Kahn aren’t doing the trick. The livelihood of most minority groups has always been under direct assault by GOP values, and that reality is becoming even more evident as the Republican party’s agenda has shifted hard-right in the past 25 years. It’s very unlikely to see this trend turn around, so I think your latest prediction of minorities and immigrants soon becoming Republicans will quickly join the ghosts of erroneous GOP predictions past.

    The population is certainly fickle. Just look at the polls and the evidence. Look how much the polls can change because of one speech, one good photo op, one kiss for that matter. I would submit that the public’s political values have grown lazier and more complacent with affluence. Hard times tend to motivate people politically more so than easier times. With that said, it’s way too early to make your cocky predictions of GOP landslides in 2004. The same predictions were made at this time in 1995 about the following year’s presidential election. How’d that turn out for you guys?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.