Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Essay question

The writer of this Newsweek piece on Carly Fiorina notes, as many have, "the continuing realignment of the educated and wealthy toward the Democrats."

Why is that? Are cultural issues more important to them than their pocketbooks? (What, in other words, is the matter with the Hamptons?) Are Republican policies bad for their pocketbooks? Are allegedly pro-business policies bad for their pocketbooks, either because they’re not really pro-business or because the business in which those who are realigning doesn’t require a "pro-business" environment in which to prosper? Have I left any possibilities out?

Discuss.

Discussions - 17 Comments

A few things suggest themselves. First, I don't think that our economic elites have ever been conservatives, especially in, say, the Reaganite sense of the word. Remember a few wealthy NY guys almost entirely funded McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign. As the GOP has become more conservative and the Dems less Marxist (no one advocates the government take-over of some industrial sector anymore), those elites have just begun to find their natural home. Second, many of these elites are, for the most part, tax-insensitive. If the marginal tax rates go from 33 to 38 or 50%, that's not such a big deal for someone who owns their home(s) outright and doesn't need to earn income to make basic living expenses. Third, many of the new economic successes are in tech fields which (for whatever reason) seem to induce a kind of social libertarianism along with a techno-utopianism. Neither fits well into a conservative view of things. Finally, what exactly would the GOP's comparative advantage be? True, they like lower taxes, but they have also shown themselves entirely unwilling to bite the bullet and actually make government fit the size of those taxes - and so we have huge unfunded liabilities coming on, both in terms of entitlements and continuing debt payments. I'm all for lower taxes, but hasn't the GOP, with their budgetary lassitude, merely ensured that very soon those taxes will inevitably rise unless we inflate away our debt and get rid of our now-retiring baby boomers?

The key possibility you left out relates to the word "educated". Rich people are more educated. They know more about stuff, so they vote Democratic.

Michael Simpson makes good points. Comment 2 also makes a good point, even if it is written in such a way as to infuriate conservatives or cause people to ignore it. Basically, and this is why Julie is probably wrong in trying to run the narrative that Obama is elitist...at the end of the day, the world is so complex that people want to be on the winning side as the post on global warming shows...Academics and other authorities seem to be liberal...the reasonable authorities seem to be liberal, so by peer presure the "hamptons" are liberal. I can't think of a single conservative who is held in high esteem, and the argument on the right that Universities are liberal or that the media is liberal simply serve to reinforce the world view of the demographic who considers both groups to be normative for a standard of reasonableness.

The educated and wealthy democrats are more concerned with a shortage of engineers and mathmaticians than the focus upon the humanities that the right seems to have undertaken.

Human capital figures more prominently in liberal economics and the number of market failures and externalities seems to be far greater as do the numbers of public goods.

The war in Iraq seems to be irrational from an economic standpoint, and deficit spending and huge unfunded liabilities just seem to be a way that the right has maliciously handicaped sensible governance.

Basically read Krugman, Hayek+Mises are classical and still have stuff to say, but no one is listening because that is simply esoteric political economy...Ron Paul is a joke, Libertarians are the literary idiots who couldn't do math, and simply regurgitate "theory".

Essentially none of these people are listening to the mythical "libertarian" economist that you guys think constitute what is pro-business. As the sophisticated George Will pointed out the welfare state is here to stay, and this essentially means that all economists who are working/serious have already Hegelianised themselves so to speak. There is one theory for the masses, and microeconomic theory at the undergraduate level conforms in general to this matrix...but serious economists work with government to achieve whatever government decides is normative most efficiently.

"bad for their pocketbooks" is just simplistic political economy...determining what is normative for others is great business and quite good for the pocketbooks of some.

I see two causes working in tandem.

For the wealthy, the reason is the politics of guilt and pity. They feel guilty for being prosperous when others are not and feel pity for those less fortunate than themselves. Wealth and wisdom don't necessarily come together so they work for a more just "system" that they feel will ensure a more equal distribution of wealth being unaware of the very real damage they do to the very people they feel pity for. These are the do-gooders on the left. A very similar effect surrounds environmentalism in that they can afford "green" technology and are unaware of the ill effect of raising the costs for those least able to afford it.

For the educated, the above often applies but is exacerbated by them feeling themselves more clever than they are. They are educated after all. Therefore, they think themselves capable of making decisions for the many although human experience suggests that having every individual making decisions for themselves is preferable to a few elites trying to make decisions for all just because the elites cannot possibly have access to the amount of data that the individuals together have at their fingertips.

they think themselves capable of making decisions for the many although human experience suggests that having every individual making decisions for themselves is preferable to a few elites trying to make decisions for all just because the elites cannot possibly have access to the amount of data that the individuals together have at their fingertips.

I look forward to hearing about Servius' attempt at performing brain surgery on himself

Classic.

Of course, deciding what to spend your resources on and how much to pay for bread does not equal brain surgery. But you might be better educated than me. ;)

Academics and other authorities seem to be liberal...the reasonable authorities seem to be liberal, so by peer presure the "hamptons" are liberal.

So the wealthy and educated tend to be liberal because the wealthy and educated tend to be liberal?

The questions posed might be more interesting if they were based on a sound premise. "the continuing realignment of the educated and wealthy toward the Democrats"? When did this realignment even begin? For starters, let's look at the 2004 election figures. Going by educational attainment, it's a close call. Both Bush and Kerry scored 49% of college grads, while Bush did better with those lacking a degree, 53% - 47%, and Kerry captured 11% more of the postgrad vote. So, maybe the Dems have the very educated, but the rest is rather questionable.

But when it comes to money, Bush blew Kerry away. Look:

Income Level Bush vote %|Kerry vote %


Under $15K/yr.___36__________63


15-30K___________42__________57


30-50K___________49__________50


...and here's where the shift begins:


50-75K___________56__________43


75-100K__________55__________45


100-150K_________57__________42


150-200K_________58__________42


200K + __________63__________35

It would take a considerable realignment just to bring those numbers to even, let alone slant them towards a wealthy preference for Dems!

I'm not exactly sure where the educated and the wealthy shifted their votes, but if the '06 elections were much of an indication, a chunk of nearly EVERY demographic shifted to the Dems. The figures above tell me more about the party loyalties of the wealthy than, for instance, Steve Hayward's anecdotal attempt to make the same dubious suggestion as was made in the passing Newsweek remark.

If you want to look at a voter realignment from GOP to Dem, check out the victory of Travis Childers in Mississippi's 1st district. He won by 8 points. This is a state that ranks dead last in high school completion, 49th in bachelor's degree attainment, and 49th or 50th for median household income. And if we look at the counties in NE Miss., which compose the 1st district, their numbers generally fare worse than even the state's averages.

From the Politico link I gave above:


"Childers improved upon last month's performance in most of the district’s smaller rural counties and his home county of Prentiss, and he managed to cut slightly into Davis’ margin of victory in his home base around the South Memphis suburbs, where Cheney campaigned for him on Monday."

If those suburbs are where the wealthier and more educated folks of that district are living, I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that Childers's modest inroads there were more due to Cheney stumping for his opponent than it is any preference the mega-wealthy have to Dems and their policies.

I really doubt any significant realignment among the wealthy towards the Dems, at least one that's disproportionate from the movement that's been seen among the entire voting population in the last few years. But even if there's a kernel of fact in it, is that the realignment that's going to make a big difference in number of absolute votes? 7% of voters in '04 came from the $150K+ income bracket, whereas 23% came from the under $30K bracket.

You're going to have to discourage or outlaw more poor and poorly educated people from voting to get back on track to the "permanent Republican majority" that was being eyed and prematurely gloated about just a little more than 3 years ago.

The rich are relatively protected from the hard facts of life and of social order. They can therefore indulge more readily in the utopian fantasies preached by our teachers and artists. In addition, they have an affinity for power and its exercise, and are therefore uncomfortable with mediocrity and incompetence in public life. Republican politicians are relative bumblers, lacking the smooth self-confidence of the rich because politics really isn't their game. The fact that Republican POLICIES are more competent, by and large, than Democratic policies matters less. The rich don't really have to live with these policies. Since the 1930s, the Democrats have been the party of power, the party of government -- with a brief hiatus in the Reagan years, when the GOP seemed to have the initiative, and a very brief one in Newt Gingrich's 1995. Over time, like attracts like.

I would suggest the wealthy in this country are extremely bitter, gun loathing, gay loving, confused racist white males.


Next question...

The educated and wealthy democrats are more concerned with a shortage of engineers and mathmaticians than the focus upon the humanities that the right seems to have undertaken.

But there is no shortage of engineers and mathmaticians. That's a lot like the global warming hoax.

It would take a considerable realignment just to bring those numbers to even, let alone slant them towards a wealthy preference for Dems!


Based on giving to the parties so far in this cycle, that "considerable realignment" has already happened. Regardless of how anyone thinks the rich vote, the fact is that they donate massive amounts of money to the left.

Why is that? Are cultural issues more important to them than their pocketbooks? (

In a sense, yes. The driving idea of the left has always been "rule by technocratic elite". (And not equalitarianism. Thats simply one of many justifications for the elite to take power.) It's hardly a surprise that the technocratic elite finds this idea appealing. Yes, to a large extent that can be considered cultural.


The age of the self-made businessman is over. The modern CEO has been educated in an Ivy League school and has the appropriate disain for the people in fly-over country.

Craig, I question those income figures although I don't have time to research at the moment. The exit polling I've seen has indicated that Democrats obtain majorities among the really wealthy and among the really poor. That is those people who can afford high taxes and those who don't pay taxes.

When Democrats tend to win is when they manage to push those margins together somewhat.

Based on giving to the parties so far in this cycle, that "considerable realignment" has already happened. Regardless of how anyone thinks the rich vote, the fact is that they donate massive amounts of money to the left.

If you're referring to campaign donations, I think that says something rather different than what Mr. Knippenberg was referring to in his original post. It's possible that there might be more rich people donating to the Dems at present, but that might just indicate that big GOP donors aren't writing checks as they don't like their candidate(s). From what I've read, the bulk of Obama's campaign has been financed by a great number of rather modest donations.

"Servius" said:
Craig, I question those income figures although I don't have time to research at the moment. The exit polling I've seen has indicated that Democrats obtain majorities among the really wealthy and among the really poor.

I'm sorry you don't have time to do the research, Servius, I'd like to see your figures. Keep looking until you find some exit polls that say what you'd feel comfortable with. Maybe there needs to be some conservative compendium of voter demographic stats along the lines of Steven Hayward's "Everything is A-OK!...and getting better, too!" environmental report. Heritage or AEI are probably already on it...


One should consider not only how the rich vote and to whom they donate, but where the political passion is. For example, if five rich people give to Republicans and five to Democrats, that doesn't necessarily tell us much. If the rich Republicans are giving to moderates and the rich Democrats are giving to leftists, we have a disproportion. We also have a disproportion if the rich Democrats can be counted on year in, year out, while the rich Republicans are less constant in their "participation" and more easily alienated or distracted from Republican politics. Another disproportion would be in other political activity. If rich Republicans do little but write checks, they are less effective than rich Democrats who do more. Finally, we'd want to know how many mega-donors there are on each side. A mega-donor is one whose money is sufficient to make a serious difference on its own, e.g., in a Senate race or an initiative campaign. I suspect that on every count I have listed, Democrats come out ahead among the rich.

I'd like to thank the commenters in this thread for giving me so much amusement. Having been bitten squarely in the rear with facts and figures, they opt to 1) simply shrug and deny (#12 and #14) or 2) split hairs in a fashion that makes Bill Clinton's deconstruction of "is" look respectable (#16).

If the voting preference of the super-wealthy was even more skewed to the GOP than the 2-to-1 numbers in my post above show, it would still not mean much to Frisk as, in his world, all Dems are leftists and most Repubs float between being centrist and liberals. Is he even remotely aware of the slightest liberal discontent with the the Dem-controlled Congress that took over in '06? Why should they be unhappy - they've clearly got the Congress of their dreams, right?

But if folks really want to believe that the wealthy favor the GOP by such wide margins in the voting booth but cut their checks in a completely contrary fashion, they're entitled to that belief, but that doesn't make it true.

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