Class, Policy Attitudes, and U.S. Presidential Voting in the Post-Industrial Era: The Importance of Issue Salience


In the Post-industrial Era, there has been an apparent weakening of the relationship between class and voting in the U.S., with lower class voters becoming less likely to support the Democratic Party. We argue that this reflects that lower class status predicts liberal economic attitudes, but conservative views on cultural and racial issues, while the parties are consistently liberal or conservative, creating conflicts for many voters. How do voters settle such internal conflicts? We argue that the salience that voters attach to these different types of issues determines how policy attitudes, and indirectly class, shapes voting. Using ANES and GSS data since the 1970s, we find that class consistently predicts economic and cultural/minority policy attitudes, and that lower class voters who place more salience on economic issues, and upper class voters for whom cultural issues are more salient, are more likely to support the Democratic Party in presidential elections.

Political Research Quarterly