Our Politically Independent Poor

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The Democratic Party has traditionally tried to do more for poor people. So one might well assume that poor people strongly support the Democratic Party. This turns out not to be true, according to research by Gallup. Gallup finds that the percentage of poor people identifying themselves as Democrats is only 32%, only slightly above the 30% of non-poor with that identification. This is not because the poor are Republicans; it’s mainly because 50% of them don’t identify with any party. Either they describe themselves as Independents, or they just don’t have strong opinions one way or the other. Maybe they have more pressing concerns than following politics, or they don’t believe that election outcomes make much difference in their lives anyway. As for the non-poor, Gallup classifies 40% of them as Independents, with the remainder split fairly evenly between the two major parties. Note that they are using “independent” as a broad term to include all those without a particular party, not just those who haven’t made up their minds in this particular election.

This is further evidence that Obama supporters cannot be equated with people who are dependent on government, or with people whose incomes are too low to be subject to federal income taxes. These are three different groups that only partly overlap, and that together make up well over half the population. Governor Romney displayed a serious misunderstanding of the electorate when he said that he should concern himself with independents instead of people who don’t pay income taxes, since they will vote for Obama “no matter what.” A large portion of the poor are independents whose votes are normally up for grabs, and they shouldn’t be either written off by Republicans or taken for granted by Democrats.  Even the smaller number of voters who haven’t yet made up their minds in this election are probably spread across many income groups and tax categories. Gallup is finding that many of the poor are less likely to vote for Romney as a result of his dismissive remarks.

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