Demographics

Americans Much Less Likely to Identify as Middle Class

Gallup: “Americans are considerably less likely now than they were in 2008 and years prior to identify themselves as middle class or upper-middle class, while the percentage putting themselves in the working or lower class has risen. Currently, 51% of Americans say they are middle class or upper-middle class, while 48% say they are lower class or working class. In multiple surveys conducted from 2000 through 2008, an average of more than 60% of Americans identified as middle or upper-middle class.”

Social Class Identification

“A big downshift in middle-class identification is found among those with less than a college education, suggesting that increasingly fewer “middle-class” jobs may be available for those without college educations. Further, middle-class identification dropped the most among Americans in their middle-age years, showing that the shifting economy and job market may be most likely to affect the class perceptions of those who are more anchored in their careers, rather than those just starting out or those who are at or near retirement. Similar changes among Republicans and Democrats suggest that politics has not been a major factor in the shift in self-identified class labels.”

Guns Make Us Less Safe. That’s a Fact.

David Hemenway, a Harvard professor and director of the Harvard Injury Control Center, writes in the L.A. Times that his polling to determine scientific consensus with respect to the relationship between firearms and death rates “won’t please the National Rifle Assn. ”

For example, “one survey asked whether having a gun in the home increased the risk of suicide. An overwhelming share of the 150 people who responded, 84%, said yes.”

“I also found widespread confidence that a gun in the home increases the risk that a woman living in the home will be a victim of homicide (72% agree, 11% disagree) and that a gun in the home makes it a more dangerous place to be (64%) rather than a safer place (5%). There is consensus that guns are not used in self-defense far more often than they are used in crime (73% vs. 8%) and that the change to more permissive gun carrying laws has not reduced crime rates (62% vs. 9%). Finally, there is consensus that strong gun laws reduce homicide (71% vs. 12%).”

“Of course it’s possible to find researchers who side with the NRA in believing that guns make our society safer, rather than more dangerous. As I’ve shown, however, they’re in the minority.”

“Scientific consensus isn’t always right, but it’s our best guide to understanding the world. Can reporters please stop pretending that scientists, like politicians, are evenly divided on guns? We’re not.”

The Irrelevance of Independents

Washington Post: As the chart below suggests, it’s somewhat meaningless to “talk about how the ranks of independents, those famously fickle people without a preferred party, are growing in every state as people sour on the traditional bifurcated model of elections.”

“Why? Because politics has increasingly become about campaigns and candidates talking to people who are already paying attention to what they are saying. Again, why? Because those high news consumption folks also happen to be — surprise, surprise — the sorts of people who turn out to vote. And where do those people tend to reside on the political spectrum? On the far left and the far right, of course. Independents? Not so much.”

“Such a ‘base’ campaign will likely grow the ranks of so-called independents as they feel ignored and unappreciated by the two major parties. Of course, until independents start paying more attention to politics, they don’t have much room to complain.”

Conservatives Hold Out on Global Warming

Gallup: “While notable majorities of all other political party/ideology groups say the effects of global warming will happen within their lifetime, fewer than four in 10 conservative Republicans (37%) agree, a sign of that political identity’s strident skepticism on this issue.”

Americans' Views on Global Warming, by Party and Ideology

“This stable consensus belies the sharp political divisions that have paralyzed the national government’s ability to grapple with this issue, at least in a way that both Congress and the president approve of. While Obama may pursue international accords aimed at combating greenhouse gases, the Republican Congress unabashedly opposes these endeavors. In what amounts to a perfect summation of the distance between the two parties, Obama recently identified global warming as the biggest threat to future generations, while the Republican Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, James Inhofe, has previously called global warming a ‘hoax.’ Inhofe, considered by the National Journal as one of the most conservative U.S. senators, undoubtedly represents an extreme viewpoint, just as Obama’s heightened language may not accurately capture how many Americans interpret the consequences of global warming.”

Republican States Trump Democratic States in Voting Their Party

Philip Bump: “One of our favorite metrics gauges partisanship in a state’s presidential voting by comparing it to the national vote margin.”

“Since the 1990s, the margin by which states have been more Republican has indeed grown, while the margin by which states vote more Democratic has been relatively flat. This reinforces the idea that partisan loyalty has strengthened — but only on one side of the split.”

Bump asks: “How much more or less partisan have states been of late? Let’s create four ranges: States that voted more than or less than five points more Democratic or Republican than the nation on the whole.”

“There’s a solid block visible: States that have voted more than five percentage points more Republican than the nation on the whole in the last several elections. Democratic states have been closer to the national margin — in part, because that margin has favored the Democrats.”

“States that vote more Republican than the rest of the country have voted increasingly more Republican. States that vote more Democratic haven’t changed as much.”