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Of Race, Wealth, And Voting Intentions

Posted by The Agonist on October 29th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

I heartily recommend today’s Guardian piece by Gary Younge, Working class voters: why America’s poor are willing to vote Republican. Some statistics:

So why do poor people vote Republican? The first thing to note is that most of them don’t. In 2008 73% of those who earned less than $15,000, 60% of those who earned between $15,000 and $30,000, and 55% of those who earned between $30,000 and $50,000 voted for Obama. This year 57% of those earning less than $36,000 plan to vote Democrat as do 50% of those with a high school diploma or less. Even in deeply conservative Mississippi the overwhelming majority of the poor voted for Obama.

…The question of why poor people vote Republican is not simply an issue of income but primarily race and partly region and gender. Poor people may be more likely to vote Democrat; poor white people are not. In 2008 McCain won a slim majority (51%) of white Americans who earn less than $50,000 (this is just below the national median income which is not poor but the only figure available from exit polls that breaks down votes down by race and income), while Obama won a whopping majority of non-whites in the same category (86%). Asked in May which candidate would do more to advance their family’s economic interests middle-class white voters who say they are struggling to maintain their financial positions gave Romney a 26 point lead over Obama.

But that support is less pronounced among white women than white men and is not uniform across the country. In Mississippi 84% of whites who earn below $50,000 backed McCain: in Vermont 70% in the same category voted for Obama.

…the truly shocking thing about income and voting patterns in the US isn’t the number of poor people who vote Republican but the number who  don’t vote at all. Inequality in income is intimately related to inequality in turnout. In 2008, 41% of voters who earn less than $10,000 voted; among those who earn more than $150,000 the figure was 78%. One can only assume that many poor people do not feel they have anyone to vote for. Shortly before the 2004 election I met Cynthia Huntington in Maine. She was 60 then and had a hernia, no health insurance and was in extreme discomfort. She was in two minds as to whether to vote Democrat (Maine could have been a swing state at the time) or for third party candidate Ralph Nader. “They don’t give a shit about us,” she said. “They’re all rich people, and they’re all run by corporations. They don’t care about the fact that I need surgery and can’t pay for it.”

There’s far, far more at the link, showing that its far more complicated than that poor people who vote Republican are just dupes. Read the whole thing.

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