March 16, 2005


Professor Bainbridge links to some fascinating data graphed by the pollster Zogby which shows that across all sorts of demographics (the Professor is particularly interested in how it graphs among the traditionally Democratic) people who self-identify as investors are more likely to vote Republican. The numbers are striking, and will bear watching over the upcoming interesting times.

When you compare how people behave with how they identify themselves, you run into a chicken and egg problem. It could be that people who are inclined to vote Republican are more inclined, as a consequence of their worldview to invest, or even just more inclined to think of their holdings as investments and themselves as investors. Conversely, it could be that rising home values are causing people who bought simply for secure shelter to think of themselves as investors, and to look at things as Republicans do. If we are in fact in a housing bubble (which I doubt) this latter effect may be fragile.

Regardless of the cause of this shift, the Democrats must respond to it if they are to retain political significance. They can either discourage people from thinking of themselves as investors, which may be what the Social Security battle is all about, or they can change their platform so as to be more attractive to investors. This will mean abandoning the class warfare position so attractive to the leaders of organized labor (if not their members) and to the activists who see themselves as the new core of the Party, and will require a considerable intra-party power struggle. Hillary Clinton has done a pretty good job of presenting herself as moving to the center, but I really don't see her campaigning on her own record as an investor.

Posted by triticale at March 16, 2005 11:42 PM
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