Wealthy Voters Shift Blue
Daniel Gross reports:
… the poll for the House vote in the East showed that the 25 percent of the electorate making over $100,000 went big for Democrats overall, 57-42, compared with a 49-48 margin in 2004. In 2006, those making between $150,000 and $200,000 voted for Democratic candidates by a whopping 63-37 majority, and those making more than $200,000 went Democratic by a slim 50-48 margin. That’s a huge shift from 2004, when Republicans took the $150,000 to $200,000 demographic 50-48 and rang up a huge victory among the over $200,000 set: 56-40. In 2006, Democratic candidates racked up big wins among college graduates—63-35, compared with 55-42 in 2004—and among those with postgraduate degrees—68-31, compared with 58-38 in 2004. …
On a nationwide basis, the wealthy still vote Republican. But not by much. According to the 2006 exit poll, on a nationwide basis, of all homes making more than $100,000, Republican House candidates received a 51-47 majority, and among those making more than $200,000, Republicans racked up a 53-46 majority.
Are these voters behaving irrationally? Gross opines:
As the number and relative weight of the wealthy grow, their incomes rising in part because Republicans have cut taxes on their incomes and capital gains, they’re proving themselves less likely to vote their economic interests.
Actually, I suspect that the blue-shifted voters figured they could have their cake and eat it too. With Bush in the White House to veto any tax increases and the Democrats having promised AMT reform, these voters’ economic interests were safe. (To be sure, there’s a modest risk that the Democrats will allow the Bush tax cuts to expire when the sunset provisions begin kicking in a few years down the road, but voters probably gambled that the Democrats will renew most of the key cuts.) With their economic interests secure, they were free to vote based on the war or stem cells or what have you.
The more interesting test will be in 2008, when there will be a real prospect of unified Democrat government, which could more significantly threaten the economic interests of upper middle and upper class voters. If they shift back to the red at the Presidential level, we’ll know that they are economically rational after all.