Contested Populism: The Cross-pressured White Working Class in American Politics
McTague, John Michael
Morris, Irwin L
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While there has been a fair amount of research on class cleavages in the United States, the extant literature is a muddle of competing explanations of the political behavior of the white working class. Some argue that they are trending more Democratic on economic grounds in an era of growing inequality, while others point to growing Republican support based on social, cultural, and moral issues. I argue that the white working class is cross-pressured in a political environment that makes both the economic and cultural dimensions of class salient. Class shapes important economic outcomes, such as income, but it also socializes an authoritarian worldview. Although the Republican Party has made strong inroads with this constituency on the basis of their relatively higher levels of authoritarianism, the Democratic Party remains a competitive alternative based on its economic policies.