White Working Class Voters Want Reform First

Today WaMo is publishing a sneak preview from the June/July/August issue of an important new piece by Stan Greenberg that casts new light on why non-college educated white voters resist supporting candidates who offer a progressive agenda they otherwise prefer to anything conservatives are promoting.

In two words, these voters–and interestingly enough, women in particular–want reform first. They are disgusted by the influence of wealthy interests in Washington and in political campaigns–this is not, as has often been asserted, a “wine track” issue. And they also don’t believe government is an effective instrument for achieving the progressive goals they share.

Greenberg also deals with a few myths: white working class voters are not hopelessly reactionary; outside the Deep South and Rocky Mountain regions, Democrats are still relatively competitive with this demographic. And he points to an important reality that should be obvious after 2014: even if Democrats can hang onto the presidency via large margins among young and minority voters, winning elections downballot and in non-presidential years does require a better performance among all reachable voters, and much of the white working class is reachable if and only if progressive pay the “price of admissions” with these voters: “championing reform of government and the political process.”

In conjunction with The Democratic Strategist, PA will be sponsoring a roundtable discussion of Stan’s piece and its implications over the next couple of weeks. More about that tomorrow.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.