Andrew Stuttaford has some interesting speculations about the impact of class and the passions on contemporary politics. A little data:
And some analysys:
At first glance therefore it makes little sense that 49 percent of those from households making more than $100,000 a year (26 percent of the electorate) opted for the Democrat, up from 41 percent in 2004, as did 52 percent of those raking in over $200,000 (6 percent of voters), up from 35 percent last go round. . . .
Mark Penn notes "While there has been some inflation over the past 12 years, the exit poll demographics show that the fastest growing group of voters . . . has been those making over $100,000 a year. . . .In 1996, only 9 percent of the electorate said their family income was that high . . . [By 2008] it had grown to 26 percent." . . .
2004, 20 percent of "Lower Richistanis," those 7.5 million households (the number would be lower now, but it then would have constituted roughly 6-7 percent of the U.S. total) struggling along on a net worth of $1 million to $10 million, spent more than they earned."
In a shrewd article written for Politico shortly after the election, Clinton adviser Mark Penn tried to pin down who exactly these higher echelon Obama voters were ("professional," corporate rather than small business, highly educated, and so on). Possibly uncomfortable with acknowledging anything so allegedly un-American as class yet politically very comfortable with this obvious class’s obvious electoral clout, he eulogized its supposedly shared characteristics: teamwork, pragmatism, collective action, trust in government intervention, a preference for the scientific over the faith-based, and a belief in the "interconnectedness of the world." We could doubtless add an appreciation of NPR and a fondness for a bracing decaf venti latte to the list, and as we did so we would try hard to forget this disquieting passage from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four: "The new aristocracy was made up for the most part of bureaucrats, scientists, technicians, trade-union organizers, publicity experts, sociologists, teachers, journalists, and professional politicians." . . .
See how the emergence of a mass class of super-rich could fuel growing resentment both within its ranks and, by extension, without. By "without," I refer not to the genuinely poor, who have, sadly, had time to become accustomed to almost immeasurably worse levels of deprivation, but to the not-quite-so-rich eyeing their neighbors’ new Lexus and simmering, snarling, and borrowing to keep up. The story of rising inequality in America is a familiar one: What’s not so well known is that the divide has grown sharpest at the top. Frank reports that the average income for the top 1 percent of income earners grew 57 percent between 1990 and 2004, but that of the top 0.1 percent raced ahead by 85 percent, a trend that will have accelerated until 2008 and found echoes further down the economic hierarchy. . . .
Barack Obama, a politician who has explicitly and implicitly promised the managers, the scribblers, the professors, and the now-eclipsed gentry that he would finish what the market collapse had begun. He’d put those Wall Street nouveaux back in their place. Higher taxes will claw at what’s left of their fortunes and, no less crucially, their prospects. What taxes don’t accomplish, new regulation (some of which even makes some sense) and the direct stake the government has now taken in so much of the economy will. Better still are all the respectably lucrative, respectably respectable jobs that it will take to run, or bypass, this new order. . . .
The notion that some of the very richest Americans (not all, of course) support the Democrats should no longer be seen as a novelty. . . . The shrewdest or most cynical amongst them will have realized [that]. . . The onslaughts on Lower Richistan and on Wall Street will make it more difficult for others to join them at mammon’s pinnacle.