White working-class voters don’t like either candidate

And really, who can blame them?

White, working-class Americans get a more nuanced look in a new survey out today from the Public Religion Research Institute. The big takeaway? It’s not all guns, God, and the GOP for one of the most targeted demographics of this election season.

The survey defines the group—which makes up about 36 percent of all Americans—as “non-Hispanic white Americans without a four-year college degree who hold non-salaried jobs.” That group is mainly compared to white, college educated Americans, over the course of the PRRI results.

Mitt Romney has a double-digit lead over Obama with working-class white voters (48-35), but things get more complicated when broken down a bit more. Romney fares the best among southern voters and men in the group, but has no significant lead over the incumbent among Catholics, women, or non-southern members of the group.

Perhaps tellingly, neither candidate is particularly well-liked by the demographic: Just 45 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Romney, only one percentage point more than said the same thing about Obama. By contrast, George W. Bush had a favorability rating of 51 percent in the survey.

Despite everything that’s happened, some people still want to have a beer with Shrub! Oy.

Here are a few more takeaways from the survey:

  • 70 percent of white, working class Americans agree that the economic system in the U.S. unfairly favors wealthy people. Eight-in-ten believe that outsourced jobs are either somewhat or very responsible for economic instability in the U.S.
  • While the demographic was no more likely than white, college-educated Americans to say that the Tea Party movement shared their values (34 percent vs. 31 percent), they’re half as likely to support Occupy Wall Street (28 percent vs. 16 percent). By contrast, the two groups had about equal support for the labor movement (31 percent vs. 29 percent).
  • Just 1-in-20 cite abortion or same-sex marriage as the most important issue for their vote. And the group is divided on those issues, with about half opposing same-sex marriage. Half of those surveyed also responded that abortion should be legal in most or all instances.

Greg Sargent:

Nearly two thirds of working class whites want to hike taxes on those over $1 million. More than half say one of our biggest problems is that we “don’t give everyone an equal chance in life.” Seventy-eight percent of them blame America’s economic problems on corporations moving jobs overseas and 69 percent on Wall Street making risky decisions.

In fairness, 69 percent also blame government regulation and 64 percent blame Obama’s policies. But as Molly Ball notes, there is clearly a strong strain of economic populism and a powerful skepticism about unfettered capitalism among them.

And this gets us back to what this is all about. Obama is hammering Romney over Bain outsourcing, his own wealth and low tax rates, his proposed tax cuts for the rich, and the ways the overall Romney/Ryan agenda would redistribute wealth upward, because these voters are clearly receptive to this kind of populism. Romney, meanwhile, is countering all that with his own message about all the ways Obama allegedly wants to redistribute wealth downward to the dependent poor, a narrative that may also resonate with their views.

One thought on “White working-class voters don’t like either candidate

  1. What these white, Southern simpletons are saying is that they don’t like rich people any more than they like black, socialist people. One must assume then that what they do want is a poor, white, Capitalist to run their lives. Is there any such thing?

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