GOP Success Hinges on Working-Class Whites

Washington Post:  “The urgent imperative of Republicans — historically the party of business, money and power — [is] to broaden their coalition with many more white working-class voters. As the nation diversifies and the GOP struggles to adapt, the presidential hopefuls see this demographic bloc as the key to taking back the White House.”

“There has been a debate within the party — and the political class — about whether Republicans need to diversify to win or whether it just needs to attract even more of its core constituencies. So far in 2016, led by Cruz and Donald Trump, the election has moved decisively toward the latter. The exceptions, such as Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham, are either out of the race or on the edges of it.”

“The mission is not limited to the campaign trail, however. Within the GOP’s congressional ranks, some reform-minded lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), are pushing anti-poverty policies. Ryan co-hosted a presidential candidates forum in South Carolina over the weekend devoted to those issues.”

“As Republicans face difficulties winning over Latino, young and women voters, further maximizing support and turnout among working-class whites is critical.”

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  • Calbengoshi

    There is an inherent inconsistency between being “the party of business, money and power” and being the party of the “white working class,” and this is why there is such a struggle going on within the GOP at the current moment.

    The GOP needs (and has been getting) the votes of white, working class voters, but the policies it has supported for years have been geared to benefit big business and the rich at the expense of those working class voters. This is what has provided the opportunity for candidates such as Trump and Cruz to gain the support of those voters.

    • Urban_Snowshoer

      This is a two way street: while the policies may have had poor outcomes, somebody voted to put these people in office.

      Until voters start asking the hard questions and focusing on things that actually matter: e.g. whether they will be able to retire or afford healthcare, nothing is going to change.

  • realnrh

    The problem with Republican anti-poverty measures is that they’re all theoretical, ideological, and indirect. “Give more money to rich people and they’ll create jobs!” Even if it did work (and there’s no data to support that hypothesis), the poor people don’t have a direct view of a connection. “Here is money or services to help directly improve your life” is a far more visible path – but Republicans can’t stand it because then the ‘wrong people’ might get helped. So only the working poor who already believe fervently in the magical Republican ideological economic view are going to be wooed by Republican anti-poverty measures.

    • pisher

      What the GOP has done is undermine the whole idea of government, in all classes, all ethnic groups, all political orientations, to such an extent that people are voting on the basis of things other than enlightened self-interest, because they don’t believe government can help them anymore. So the elections become ideological battlefields, instead. Ideologically motivated voters turn up to vote. Voters who are concerned mainly with bread and butter issues may not, because they can’t see any direct connection between how they vote and how well they’re doing (even though this approach is hurting them badly over time).

      To some extent, progressives have done this as well, but much less consistently. We still believe in government, and we still believe (up to a point) in consensus. Republicans just believe in winning for the sake not not losing. Which would explain how a guy who promises “Vote for me and we’ll never lose again” can be getting so much traction. Even though he’s lost plenty of times in the past. It’s still a good rallying call. He gets them.

  • realnrh

    The problem with Republican anti-poverty measures is that they’re all theoretical, ideological, and indirect. “Give more money to rich people and they’ll create jobs!” Even if it did work (and there’s no data to support that hypothesis), the poor people don’t have a direct view of a connection. “Here is money or services to help directly improve your life” is a far more visible path – but Republicans can’t stand it because then the ‘wrong people’ might get helped. So only the working poor who already believe fervently in the magical Republican ideological economic view are going to be wooed by Republican anti-poverty measures.

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