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Larry Lindsey

President & CEO, The Lindsey Group

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Social and economic class will define 2024 election

Mar 4

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Following in the footsteps of FDR, Democratic support in the past hundred years has drawn largely from working-class individuals, labor unions, and civil society organizations. Republican support, conversely, tended to rely upon larger corporate donations and the support of high-income individuals. In 2024, these traditional roles are evolving, and the new reality of campaign finance is becoming something far more nuanced and complicated.

Straight Arrow News contributor Larry Lindsey dives into the newest data about who is contributing to political campaigns and argues the data are representative of a much larger shift in American political society. Social and economic class, Lindsey contends, will play a critical role in the upcoming election, and which side wins might determine how American concepts of class are shaped in the years to come.

Among small-dollar donors, Trump led by a margin of three to two. Among big-dollar donors, Biden led by a margin of 2.3 to one. In fact, Biden got more money just from big, high-roller donors than Trump got from all donors combined. Again, it’s the elites, experts and credentialed people who are on one side. They can afford to give those that money. The working guys could not.

Again, this is a switch from history. From the New Deal on, it was thought that the economic elites were Republicans, and the working class were the Democrats. But now it’s obvious the working class are the Republicans, and the economic elites are the Democrats.

Whatever happens on November 5, it’s going to be a very, very interesting result because the class divisions within America as showing up at the ballot box have never been wider. And so whichever side wins is going to really have a big impact on how class in America is defined going forward.

This is going to be a very unusual election in America for a lot of reasons. One of them is that it’s probably going to be very class based. Now, that’s not that unusual for America. What’s unusual is that appears that the economic elites are leaning toward the Democrats, and the working stiffs are going to vote Republican.

 

Let’s think a little bit about how that came about. Well, first of all, we certainly have a more complex society than we used to. And we’re defining relationships between people in a lot of different ways, including race, gender, what have you. Well, when you have a more complex social arrangement, that creates a demand for expertise, to define how to deal with all the complexity.

 

And what does expertise require? It requires credentialism, people who get a degree in how to solve the problem. Well, but once you have a credentialed group of people, you have a natural source of demand for even more social complexity. And so the cycle builds and builds and builds.

 

I consider an example. Recently, there was a move called ESG, which was designed to promote good causes [in] a variety of areas. Well, the ESG movement became actually a professional movement, there are now ESG specialists out there. In effect, they define, promote, and regulate what ESG is all about. You know, they used to make a joke about religion as having a monopoly on defining sin and [a] monopoly on how to get rid of it. Not too much different than what the ESG professionals do right now.

 

Well, let’s see how that actually breaks down. Bloomberg recently did a study of political campaign donors in the last half of 2023. The U.S. Federal Election Commission data, where people have to give the amount that they contributed, who their employer is, and a description of their job title or function.

 

Well, people who marked down that they were professors, surprise, surprise, gave to the Democrats by a margin of 93% to 7%.

 

That’s quite dramatic. And as we’ve seen in recent events on campuses, such as Harvard, you have a decidedly left-leaning group of people there, and [not] only that, they’re pretty fervent. So they’re a little bit like the Mean Girls Club back in, in junior high.

 

Aside from professors, the other big Democrat donors were psychologists, social workers, scientists, and writers, all people who claim to have expertise and generally have credentials to back them.

 

Who were the big donor types for Trump? Well, generally, they were people who didn’t go to anything like a faculty club, they tended to work on their own: farmers, truckers, entrepreneurs, mechanics and construction workers. They’re certainly people who [you] wouldn’t call streetwise. And they definitely are not credentialed. And no faculty club in the country would take them in as members.

 

Well, the same thing is true when you look at employers. Employees of Google contributed 90 to 10 to Biden, and as their recent experience with AI shows where they ended up, you know, basically not having any White historical figures, that they’ve even admitted was a major mistake. It shows the bias of the employer. But similarly, those people are experts, and they are credentialed. And aside from Google employees, Microsoft and IBM employees also gave overwhelmingly to the Democrats. The other big employer was Kaiser Permanente.

 

So you had high-tech and national health-oriented people going for Biden. On the other hand, what companies employed people who contributed to Trump? Walmart, Federal Express, and UPS, so the people who bring us all the stuff we consume, tend to be on Trump’s side.

 

Another interesting tell was the size of the contribution. The study broke it down into three categories under $200, which is kind of the break-even point for where contributions must be reported, over $3,300, $3,300 is the maximum contribution you can make to either the primary or the general election and those in between.

 

Among small dollar donors, Trump led by a margin of three to two. Among big-dollar donors, Biden led by a margin of 2.3 to one. In fact, Biden got more money just from big, high-roller donors than Trump got from all donors combined. Again, it’s the elites, experts and credential people who are on one side, they can afford to give those that money. The working guys could not.

 

Again, this is a switch from history. From the New Deal on, it was thought that the economic elites were Republicans, and the working class were the Democrats. But now it’s obvious the working class are the Republicans and the economic elites are the Democrats.

 

Whatever happens in November 5, it’s going to be a very, very interesting result, because the class divisions within America, as showing up at the ballot box, have never been wider. And so whichever side wins is going to really have a big impact on how class in America is defined going forward.

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