I have a few thoughts on Packer’s article. First, it’s definitely a struggle for me to relate to the people interviewed there. For example, it says that Barbie Snodgrass used to buy 8 bags of groceries each week and now, “because of inflation,” only buys 4 bags. But the price of food can’t have doubled! And she presents going out “for a McDonald’s Dollar Meal” as chepaer than “spending seven dollars on a bag of potatoes and cooking at home.” First off, how big is that bag? Even in Manhattan, a 5-pound bag of potatoes costs a lot less than $7. Second, such a bag wil supply you with enough food for many many meals. I agree that a Happy Meal or whatever can be convenient, and I bet it’ll make the kids happy, but no way is it cheaper than cooking potatoes at home.
At some level, I can follow this–after all, here I am blogging at $0/hour, so I understand that not all activity is economically rational–but I have to admit that I don’t have a great framework for making sense of this person’s attitudes. (If I’d been conducting the interview, I would’ve asked Snodgrass how she could think that cooking a bag of potatoes is more expensive than going to McDonalds. But that probably just means that I don’t know the first thing about interviewing.)
OK, enough of that. For my discussion of the voting data, see here. Richer voters remain Republican, and that’s true even if you restrict the analysis to whites:
And here are the trends. David Park made this graph of what’s been happening since the 1950s with the rich-poor voting gap (the difference between Republican vote share among the upper third of income, minus the Republican vote share among the lower third) in Presidential elections. The gray dots represent all voters, the black dots represent whites only (yes, I know, they should be white dots…).
The rich-poor voting gap among whites has in recent elections been a bit below its 1970s-1990s peak, but it’s far from zero. Yes, it’s different rich and poor people than before, but it’s still there. It’s a mistake to think there was a past golden era of class-based voting. Geographic factors were important in voting decades ago, and they are now as well.