My recent post about how the class structure of red and blue states has been misleadingly portrayed hopefully cleared up some misconceptions people might have about what constitutes a “typical” GOP or Democrat voter. The question is, why doesn’t the MSM get it?
Let’s face it folks, most pundits (think Tweety Matthews, Joe Klein, Tim Russert, Tom Friedman, Tom Frank, etc.) look down there noses at folks not like them. There is however, a psychological explanation for all of this, beautifully summed up on pages 28-30 in Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State. Many pundits are guilty of second order availability or geographic bias- the tendency to overgeneralize on the basis of correlations seen in their communities.
As the study points out, journalists are predominanatly college graduates with moderately to very high incomes-and many tend to vote Democratic. It is natural for them to think that higher-income voters such as themselves tend to be Democrats while lower income voters they do not know are Republicans. Even conservative columnists like Michael Barone know plenty of affluent liberal Democrats, “and then imput an incorrect correlation of income and Democratic voting to the general population.”
The issue has more to do with geography. The centers of national journalistic activity are “relatively rich states like New York, California, Maryland, and (northern) Virginia.” Notice how in all these states and in Fairfax, Va. Kerry not only won lower-income voters, he also won among higher income voters. Journalists and academics see this happening around them (rich folk voting GOP) and look at the red-blue map and see more rural, lower-income states colored red and wrongly imput that non-rich voters are the ones trending Republican.
The problem is that while affluent states and counties with lots of national journalists (like Montgomery County, MD., Fairfax, Va., Hollywood, California, etc.) vote Democrat, not many affluent voters outside the states where national media centers are based vote Democrat.
So Chris Matthews assumes that the wealthy are trending Democrat because many wealthy suburban DC folks he knows vote that way (yes I know he’s an immature idiot, but bear with me for a moment). Meanwhile, Tweety looks at red/state blue state maps and assumes that voters he doesn’t know (and wouldn’t give the time of day to anyway) must be voting Republican. “Good god,” yell the superficial political journalists, “this shows that Middle America is voting Republican. I guess if we want to appeal to these folks we better spotlight Republican ideas, no matter how biased for the very rich those policies benefit.”
Of course there is at least one other motive for journalists to pump the notion that middle class (or even poor) Americans are voting GOP. Most Americans may not benefit from Republican (or DLC) economic policies. As long as journalists convince themselves that middle and lower class Americans are the main source of GOP votes, there’s no reason to feel guilty about rich pundits themselves benefitting from Republican neo-Gilded Age policies.
In fact, it’s an added bonus to argue against Democrats who want to do things that rich pundits don’t like-say for example, raising taxes on folks making more than $200,000? Joe Klein can actually delude himself into thinking that Social Security privatization is the right thing to do: “hey the working people of America want it don’t they? That’s why they voted Republican.”
Of course, 57% of households make less than 50K, and a good majority (55%!)of these under 50K voters favored John Kerry. Oh yeah, they not only favored John Kerry over George W. Bush, but they also gave John Kerry a greater percent of their votes than they gave Bill Clinton-one of the few Democrats Joe Klein approves of-at leat politically. Funny how you rarely read those statistics in WaPo or heard them on Sunday Morning talk shows after the election. Oh well, I guess it was just an oversight.
Yeah, and I own more real estate in Manhatttan than Donald Trump does!
Up Next: John Kerry the Midwesterner, OR Why the Midwest and South are Actually Not Near Each Other