Rich people fact of the day

Pew Research Center reports
that find "Democrats pulling even with Republicans among registered
voters with annual family incomes in excess of roughly $135,000 per

In case you were wondering.  Here is more.  In any case Americans don’t vote their economic self-interest nearly as much as you might think; Bryan Caplan’s book has the most recent debunking of this myth.


Maybe rich people think that continued Republican rule would push us toward tyranny, so they're voting for their *long-term* self-interest.

The isolated factoid about people in the top decile is misleading if you mean to imply that the rich don't support the GOP more than the poor do. At the Pew Report itself states: "In the data Pew collected in the first quarter of 2007, Democrats have a nearly three-to-one identification advantage (48% vs. 18% Republican) among voters earning $20,000 or less, an advantage that shrinks as income increases."

If the Democrats are catching up with the GOP among the rich lately, it largely reflects a downward shift in GOP preference for ALL income groups. It is NOT the case that the rich prefer Democrats more than the poor do. It's that everyone is turning against the GOP, so even their "base" is eroding.

Given that since WWII the stock market total returns have been about 15% under democratic presidents terms vs some 10% under republicans and real gdp growth has been over 4% under democratic presidents vs under 3% during republican presidents terms why would you ever think it is to anyone's self interest to vote republican? The only economic variable I have ever found favoring republicans is that the real income of the top quintile does about the same under republicans as under democrats. Otherwise the evidence is virtually universal that the economy, business and investment all do better under democratic policies.

Spencer, long term stock market returns remained pretty stagnant from the mid 1950's until the mid 1980's, where the market made a significant jump, then steadily rising after the 1987 crash (which still never went close to pre-1980's levels), jumping again in the mid 1990's thanks to the internet boom (thank Bill Gates, not Bill Clinton), and then again after the 2001-2002 recession, rising to the all-time high levels of today.

True, certain policies might help the market along, but your assertion that Democratic presidents have fared well overall compared to Republican presidents isn't true at all.

Nate, I'm not trying to be contrarian here, but you accuse spencer of falling into "the pitfalls of running a single variable model for a dependent variable that exists in a complex system." While I don't necessarily buy the whole "Dem policies are better because the correlating numbers say so," but spencer is pointing to a lot more than just a single variable model, isn't he? Maybe I'm just misreading your post. I certainly understand the whole lag argument, but I think it's equally dubious to presume that the lag would remain constant over time. And that doesn't even begin to take into account the relationship with monetary policy and normal business cycles (which spencer misses as well).

Regardless, I think that the point of spencer's comment was more along the lines of "who the hell says that the wealthy are voting against their own interests just because they vote Democrat." Doesn't focusing only on top marginal rate reductions or cuts on capital gains seem as myopic as you accuse spencer's own arguments of being? Not that I'm making a straw man of your post or anything :)

I think cactus over at Angry Bear did a bunch of analysis of this, compiling the data into numerous spreadsheets. While he extracts his own conclusion out of it, there is a lot of info in the compilations for anyone to review and draw their own answers out of them....

I always thought this type of stock market analysis was silly. The market reacts to news. The president taking office isn't news. Come to think of it, the election usually isn't news, unless it's a close election.

Why assume that *economic* self-interest, or lack thereof, has anything to do with it?

I live in the SF Bay Area, so maybe that skews my worldview some, but I haven't always lived here. And in my experience here and elsewhere, rich people are extremely socially liberal-- they like feminism, like gay people, favor abortion on demand and without apology, want children taught the frank realities of sex (and evolution) in school and not a bunch of religiously-motivated lies, think drug criminalization is idiotic, etc. They see Republicans as being the pawns of a bunch of fundamentalist Christian yahoos who are a danger to the social freedoms we hold dear and who make Americans look stupid to the rest of the world.

And the gap between the top marginal tax rates proposed by mainstream Dems vs. mainstream Reps has shrunk considerably since the rise of Clinton I, so the qualms they might feel about letting the crazy socialists get power have been dampened considerably, bringing the social-issue differences to the fore.

Nicholas Weininger: "rich people are extremely socially liberal -- they like feminism, like gay people, favor abortion on demand and without apology"

You've got to be kidding. How many rich corporate executives share with you their personal views on abortion? How many rich small business owners do you think look forward to facing discrimination lawsuits from gays and feminists?

The Republican Party has millions of rich donors who are pro-life and anti-gay marriage.

Nicholas Weininger: "They see Republicans as being the pawns of a bunch of fundamentalist Christian yahoos"

Christians make up 75% of the U.S. population, Mr. Weininger. They're not all fundamentalist Christians, but the majority are pro-life. A 2006 poll found that nationawide, 43% of Americans feel that abortion should be illegal in most or all cases.

My guess is that almost all Americans would oppose partial birth abortions if they had ever seen one performed - if they had seen a surgeon insert surgical scissors into the skull of a clearly defined human body. There would be a lot more "yahoos" ready to hang those surgeons who committed infanticide.

Nicholas Weininger: "rich people are extremely socially liberal-- they like feminism, like gay people, favor abortion on demand and without apology"

Nicholas, do you have any statistics to support this assertion about rich people and abortion.

The most recent survey results I've found show high income folks are only slightly more likely to favor "abortion on demand":

"Question: Do you think abortions should be
(A)legal under any circumstances,
(B) legal only under certain circumstances, or
(C) illegal under all circumstances?


Source: Gallup poll, 2004

Attitudes toward legality of abortion

Nicholas, there just doesn't seem to be much support at any income level for unrestricted abortion.

Isn't this a contra-Krugman stat? The reason why the Democrats are gaining support among the wealthy is because there are so many wealthly people now.

Your theory assumes that a rich person who doesn't vote Republican is not voting in his own economic self-interest. I don't believe this to be true at all, at least given a short-sighted view of self-interest.

Democratic Party politics these days is largely an elitist scheme to keep homes -- especially good homes (single family houses) -- super-expensive by creating and maintaining an artificial shortage through zoning controls, so that people like the Democratic Party leadership (who already own nice homes) can profit from that high price.

The main purpose of the environmental movement (and especially the Sierra Club, whose membership is pretty much the same demographic as the population of Marin County) is to provide a cover story for this scheme, and thus convince rank-and-file Democrats that their party leadership pursues it for unselfish reasons (to "save the earth") rather than have them notice the real reason: the desire of party leaders/Sierra Clubbers to enrich themselves at the expense of people who don't yet own homes.

Wow, John Galt. I left the Democrats a while back, and when my friends in the party ask me why, I offer them several reasons. However, I had, up to this point, been COMPLETELY in the dark of the evil donkeys' grand conspiracy to artificially inflate the value of their yuppie scum neighborhoods by using phony front organizations like the Sierra Club. I had no idea that these were just lie factories intended to mesmerize the ignorant masses who would, but for the efforts of these elists peaceniks, would be lining up to move into their neighborhoods. Mon Dieu! I just *knew* there was something more devious going on.

Thank God for the Objectivists, lest we remain defenseless against the secret plans of these conniving bastards. Viva Ayn Rand!

$135k/year ain't rich if you live in a big city, and the overwhelming majority of people who make this much live in big cities. Also, "rich" is more of a function of assets and net worth and not so much yearly income.

A bit late, but... Michael Franc writing in Comment & Analysis in the Financial Times (November 4):
Democrats wake up to being the party of the rich:

A legislative proposal that was once on the fast track is suddenly dead. The Senate will not consider a plan to extract billions in extra taxes from mega-millionaire hedge fund managers.

The decision by Senate majority leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat, surprised many Washington insiders...


Democrats now control the majority of the nation’s wealthiest congressional jurisdictions. More than half of the wealthiest households are concentrated in the 18 states where Democrats control both Senate seats.

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