Posted by | June 10, 2012 10:11 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

It has long been a source of consternation for the left that many working class voters vote against their economic interests by siding with the GOP.  This was most memorably captured in Thomas Frank’s book “What’s the Matter With Kansas?”  This argument has always struck me as simplistic for reasons well articulated by Keith Humphreys:

Why does so much effort go into analyzing this phenomenon as if it were unique to the working class? There are millionaires and billionaires, such as Warren Buffett, who advocated for higher taxes on themselves. There are legions of middle and upper-middle class people who favour expanded funding of welfare programmes upon which they themselves do not rely, but which are in keeping with their values.

In short, middle and upper class voters also often prioritize their moral interests over their economic interests. Such political behaviour is not a “working class thing”. It’s a human thing.

And as the parties have resorted themselves into greater ideological consistency, it becomes easier for voters to vote their “values.”  Say what you will about the veracity of Governor Romney’s claims about the Obama economic record (and I think they are bunk); his solitary focus on economics is ignoring a lot of voters of all stripes who vote based on other things.

By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.