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?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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