A remarkable new poll has revealed interesting dynamics about our polarized nation. Poor people tend to vote democratic which isn’t a surprise, but the maps below show that the rich are broken into two camps. Even before Obama came onto the seen rich conservatives in Mississippi voted very differently than the rich in Massachusetts.
The so-called culture war between red and blue America is concentrated in the upper half of the income distribution, and voting patterns reflect this.
The insight isn’t not new, but this information should help shape the conversation. While the poor tend to focus on issues that mean survival for them, the rich are free to consider how the world might be different. In the words of one researcher:
Why does this happen? Our research on opinion poll data from earlier elections finds that lower-income Americans tend to vote based on economic issues, while richer voters consider social issues as well as economics in their voting decisions. This is sometimes called post-materialism: the idea that, as individuals or groups become more comfortable, they can afford to think beyond their immediate needs.
This study implies that the real “swing vote” may be a rift among people of comfort. The ancients knew that without leisure it is very difficult to contemplate the virtues. When one lives hand to mouth there usually isn’t time or energy to dream of how the world could be. So, it maybe very difficult for Republicans to lure the poor to policies that would mean misery for them. There seems to be an epic struggle between two worldviews held by people of comfort. Leisure time, for some, means dreams of a fair playing field, for others it means self-indulgence and dreams of stronger enforcement of the current pecking order.
Marx may have been correct. The future of our species may depend on a struggle between two worldviews: one view derives its most basic values from property rights, the other from human rights.