Chart of the Day: Democrats and the White Working Class

Here’s a chart for you to ponder over:

Between 1992 and 2008, the identification of the white working class with the Democratic Party stayed pretty stable. No matter who the presidential candidate was—Clinton, Gore, Kerry, or Obama—they were about evenly split beween identifying Democratic and identifying Republican.

That was true all the way up to 2008, when Obama was first elected. But then the white working class suddenly defected to the Republican Party in huge numbers. By 2010, net Democratic ID was -12 percent. By 2012 it was -14 percent. By 2015 it was -22 percent. And by 2016 it was -25 percent.

This all started in 2010, so it wasn’t caused by Mitt Romney. The second plummet started in 2014, so it wasn’t caused by Donald Trump. Fox News got its start in 1996, so it seems unlikely that they were the proximate cause. So what’s your guess? What happened between 2010 and 2015 that suddenly caused the white working class to abandon the Democratic Party in large numbers?