On the Anniversary of a Very Sad Day, A Democrat Shoots Down a Stereotype, and Offers a Little Hope

On Nov. 2, 2005 as all people to the left of darth Vader (a.k.a. Dick Cheney) look for solace and comfort, perhaps most anger inducing is the fear that Democrats simply cannot appeal to “Middle America,” “The Heartland” “Joe and Mary Sixpack, ” etc. etc. First I call your attention to this article. No it’s not a diatribe against rural folk or those not living on America’s coasts. Rather it is a well deserved attack on the pundits who credited Bush with understanding “regular people.” This Kerry volunteer writes:

“No the heartland is not any one state or region of the country, but “the heartland of this country is anywhere that people work their asses off to make their lives better for their families. They stay true to their better angels no matter how miserable things get or how much easier it would be to succumb to hate and irrational fear. They read, and listen, and look for the truth and stay informed about what’s really going on, no matter how grim the news. They don’t live in Fox News cocoons, they don’t blast Rush Limbaugh from their pickups, and they don’t vote blindly for the guys whose prejudices most neatly line up with their own. Their concerns are genuine, their values are consistent, their principles are rock-solid, and their hearts are true. ”

Good summation. But best of all: It’s backed up by facts (aka CNN exit polls). Before Democrats go out to do battle in 2005 and 2006, trying to figure out the proverbial question of “what did we do wrong,” let’s remember what we did right.

Before I continue, let’s get some facts on the table:
Nearly 60% of households make total incomes of less than $50,000 according to the Census. These people voted for John Kerry by 55%-45%. Unfortunately, they only made up 45% of the voting electorate.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m declaring a “class war” here. Those people from households making $50,000 or more who voted for John Kerry truly are “the enlightened affluent” (or at least upper middle class) that Mario Cuomo spoke of in his 1984 Convention Speech (regardless of whether or not they live on the coasts). Thank you for your ability to go beyond the narrow selfishness of the right-wing. Indeed, in 14 states Kerry actually won the $50,000 crowd (albeit by smaller margins than he won the under $50,000 crowd in those states). Those states are: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maryland, DC, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Oregon, Hawaii, Washington state, and California.

Still, I can’t help but wonder what the election outcome would’ve been if only voters from sub $50,000 households had voted?

The Answer: Kerry would’ve won 31 states (including Washington DC) for a total of 392 Electoral votes. In three states he won 50% (to Bush’s 50%) of the sub $50,000 vote: Louisana, South Carolina, and Texas (no you don’t need glasses, that really is the state of Texas I’m referring to). In all 50 states and the District, John Kerry did better among the under $50,000 crowd than he did among the $50,000 and over crowd (except for North Dakota)*. At least 5 southern states and possibly as high as 8- would’ve been in Kerry’s column.

In only 16 states did Bush win more votes than Kerry among voters from households making less than $50,000 a year: West Virginia (54%-45%), Colorado (50%-49%), Indiana (52%-48%), Kentucky (55%-44%), Alabama (50%-48%), Tennessee (50%-48%), Montana (53%-44%), North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Idaho, Alaska, Utah, and Wyoming (where Bush got 60% of the under $50,000 vote in each these last states). Thus Bush would only have won 95 electoral votes. Even if the three states where the under $50,000 vote was tied at 50% were awarded to Bush, that still leaves Bush with only 146 EVs.

Very impressive Nick. Okay genius, so if voters from households making less than $50,000 are 60% of households, how come Kerry lost? Glad you brought that up. In only a few states outside the solid GOP low-cost-of-living Mountain states did voters making less than $50,000 represent more than 50% of the voting electorate: Arkansas, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Iowa, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico. Bush only won the under $50,000 in 3 of these states: Arkansas, Alabama, and Kentucky.

Still, in all these states Bush margin of victory among the upper-class voter was greater than Kerry’s margin of victory among middle and lower class voters. In the swing state of Iowa for example, Kerry beat Bush 56%-43% among middle and lower income Iowans (who made up 51% of the voting electorate). Among upper middle and upper class Iowans (who made up 49% of voters there) Bush won by an ever larger 57%-43%.

Of course in most states middle and lower class voters made up less than 50% of voters. The gap between them and upper class voters was often BIG:
Missouri: Less than $50,000: 48% of voters, Kerry 52%-47%. Over $50,000 52% of voters, Bush 58%-42%.
Florida: Less than $50,000: 46% of voters, Kerry 55%-43%. Over $50,000 54% of voters, Bush 58%-42%.
And (of course) Ohio: Less than $50,000: 48% of voters, Kerry 58%-42%. Over $50,000 52% of voters, Bush 58%-42%.

Kerry won the under $50,000 vote in a 4 regions: East 65%-34%, Midwest (65%-44%), West (57%-42%) and South (50%-49%). he only won the $50,000 and over crowd in the East (50%-49%). Bush won over $50 grand voters in the Midwest (57%-43%), the West (51%-47%), and in the South (66%-33%).

Bottom line: Despite the media’s preoccupation with “windsurfing,” “lattes” and other irrelevant nonsense, “the salt of the earth” still voted for “the party of the people.” The enlightened affluent notwithstanding, we know upper middle and wealthy voters will come out to vote and vote Republican. Now if only we could turn a few more of them out so they become in the voting booth what they are in the census: A majority of the nation’s households.

*In North Dakota Bush won the under $50 grand folks 64%-34% while winning over $50 grand 64%-35%.

Bookmark and Share

About Nick

Teacher of Social Studies. Born in the 1970s. History major, music minor. Big Baseball fan. Economic progressive.
Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to On the Anniversary of a Very Sad Day, A Democrat Shoots Down a Stereotype, and Offers a Little Hope

  1. Bruce Headrick says:

    In the sixteen states that Bush won there are four voter types. 1.) Stupid 2.) Uniformed 3.) Misinformed 4.) Greedy/Pathological. Think about it, there are few exceptions..I always ask Republicans which one are you?
    My own parents are a combination of 3 and 4!