We have recently moved the
Creative Class Exchange.

Please update your bookmarks with our new address at www.creativeclass.com

We look forward to your comments and discussion.

Thank you.

Posts by Author

  • Global Trends
  • Ask Rana: Advice on Work, Life and Play
  • Urban Digs, Creative Class Communities
  • Workplace
  • Entrepreneurship, Creative Class Strategies
  • Creative Class Research and Indicators
  • Architecture + Design

Video Interview

Watch a Speech

Hear a Speech




October 30, 2007

Richard Florida

Class Politics

« Couch Potato Index | Main | Education 'Fix' »


I've long said political polarization in the United States reflects a fundamental class divide. Andrew Gelman of Columbia University provides an intriguing analysis complete with more maps.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Class Politics:


Gary Dare

Some mainstream media outlets (I believe that CNN was among them) did a voter analysis by counties, and found that most blue states are comprised of blue city metros dominating red rural counties. Illinois comprises blue districts around metro Chicago (city, Evanston, Oak Park, etc.) then a purple ring in the collar counties (traditionally GOP but seeing a migration from the city) and red throughout the rest of that state. Oregon is blue for the city of Portland and the Coast (a slim triangle with Portland, Astoria and Newport as its points), and red downstate and east of the Willamette Valley.

Michael Wells

Gary's right. The population density of blue cities against the geographic spread of red rural areas. If you look at the "poor voters" map above, except for Texas, most of the red states are lightly populated and many are losing population. The same thing is true in Oregon. And as he says, the battlegrounds are the purple suburbs. Oregon elections are decided in suburban Washington County, large population, "Silicon Forest", swing voters.

I suspect that if you overlay maps of education level and average income, you'd get a similar distribution. Higher college grad and income levels in the cities.

Gary Dare

Michael, isn't Oregon shifting solidly into being a "blue" state because of the numbers heading INTO that state, not just into Portland but also places like Bend? Oregon is the top destination for California emigres and many of them are retirees flocking to Bend, Sisters, etc. in Central OR or to the Coast. As a demographic, they would tend towards blue rather than red.

More into the creative class aspect, Portland has also become a magnet for young people who have not only been priced out of California, but even Seattle. As you are familiar with Willamette Week, this year's Musicfest NW issue had a piece on all of the Seattle musicians who have moved down the coast (e.g., Laura Viers, who had a cameo on a recent "Austin City Limits" with The Decemberists). I don't know if Modest Mouse was originally from Seattle but Johnny Marr, of the Smiths and Pretenders (... and? ... and?) has joined that band and is now a part-time resident of the Alberta Street area.

Gary Dare

Michael, there does appear to be a correlation between educational achievement and average income ... (see cited link in byline)

Michael Wells

At the risk of this becoming a private discussion...

Oregon is trending Blue, but much of the state has traditionally been pragmatically progressive regardless of party. I don't think it's just the immigrees, but the state Republican Party finally fell to the far right conservatives, later than much of the country, and lost touch with the middle voters. Oregon was competitive for Republicans statewide as late as the '80's. Governors Tom McCall & Vic Atiyeh (America's first Arab decent governor). Senators Hatfield and Packwood -- and Gordon Smith lost when he ran as a conservative, reinvented himself as a moderate and won (and despite the national talk, I think is safe in '08). Congressmen Wyatt & Dellenback until they both retired from safe seats during Watergate.

I'm not sure how many of those California retirees in Central Oregon are D's. We have friends who live in Sunriver and they say they avoid talking politics with their neighbors because so many are conservative.

I suspect if a moderate/visionary Republican could get through the primaries without having to pander to the Right, he/she would be competative statewide. It's not going to happen in the next couple of elections though, so Oregon is probably Blue partly by default.


The question that needs to be examined when thinking about American voting habits is why poor white people vote Republican? What can explain the conversation I had with a white Subway (The Restaurant) employee who championed "trickle-down" economics while making $9 an hour? In "Whats wrong with Kansas" author Thomas Frank made an attempt at answering this but came up short. The real reason working class whites vote GOP is their implicit belief that Republicans serve their ethnic interests.

On one side we have the Democratic party which very strongly supports every sort of racial quota, minority set-aside, Affirmative Action, and social program aimed at ethnic minorities. More importantly, it is the left, that embraces a small academic faction which espouses the most offensive and vitriolic rhetoric regarding white people. The idea that a women who lives alone in a trailer park with 4 kids is somehow "privileged" is enough to make a "free trader" out of poorest of whites. The continual desecration of white cultural icons, along with an education system which demonizes "dead white males" has made the Republican party the DE facto place of refuge for those looking to escape the on going attack on white identity.

This has resulted in the Republicans finding a useful constituency to fight their wars for them. Never mind that the biggest contributors to the Republican party are the same people lobby the hardest for the illegal immigrants who their base feels so threatened by. As long as working class whites have someone to point out the hypocrisy of our nations' race hustlers, they'er more than happy to toe the "ditto-head" line.

I've met very few working class whites who really feel passionate about abortion or the Ten Commandments in the schools, but let the subject of Affirmative Action come up and the soap box comes out. This is what I find most repugnant about the Republicans. These "Great Americans," in their radio studios will rant day in and day out about the "liberals" but do nothing to reward their biggest supporters.

So this is the key to understanding why our country votes as it does. Every other ethnic group in America has a party in which they actually gain something from by voting for. The GOP doesn't even have to do anything to get their votes. All they have to do is not call white working class people Nazis and they got their vote. What I wonder is how long this will last?

After all, with the flood of non-whites entering the U.S., whats a white working or middle class person to think as [s]he has to compete not only with those who are as qualified as them, but -due to Affirmative Action- even those who aren't? Why doesn't the "party of white Christian men" challenge this idea of affirmative action for those not born in the U.S. Its very simple, they don't have too. They have a reliable group of people who will "fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" and who ask for nothing but to not be called Bull Connor. The problem is, I don't see this going on much longer.

Because of the abandonment by the left, and the neglect by the right, I predict in 10 years that a new party will arise which will feature for the first time in this nations history, an explicitly white racialist platform. There has never been in the history of the world a major demographic group which aloud itself to be displaced. And I don't think the white working and middle classes of the United States will be the first. While this can be avoided by granting people their constitution right to free association, I don't see the elite giving in, as their interests rely heavily on the diversification of the country.

My goal here was to explain the forces behind the political patterns we see in America. I feel nothing else can explain the voting habits of the white poor better than this. While it may seem "wrong" for people to vote for their ethnic interests, its important to remember that this decision is made at the implicit level. Its also important to remember that every other ethnic group votes explicitly for their interests. Due to the neglect and abandonment by the two major parties, we should expect another major "political shift" within the next 10 years that will divide the country even more but in the context of history, is nothing new.

Eindhoven Stratumseind

Today I had a glorious morning. Out our windows the clouds were low and touching the mountains, making our colonial town even more magic in the early hours of today. For breakfast I made a smoothie of fresh mangos, a fat type of banana whose name I don’ t know in English but is my very favorite, some fresh yogurt purchased at a local dairy store, and squeezed orange juice. I sliced some rye bread bought at a nearby organic bakery (thanks, Alana!) and sat on my balcony watching the town of San Cristobal d de...

The comments to this entry are closed.