Add this intelligent and extended commentary from Frum on how income inequality is leading to "The Vanishing Republican Voter." Frum points to a trend of upper-income voters joining lower-income voters increasingly throwing their support behind Democrats. The middle class whom the GOP purports to champion is becoming a smaller target, with middle-class incomes stagnating due in large part to health care costs (if health insurance costs had only increased 50% rather than doubling during the Bush Administration, says Frum, "middle-income voters would have enjoyed a pay raise instead of enduring wage stagnation").
"Conservatives need to stop denying reality," says Frum: middle-class Americans need health care reform, not more cuts in federal income taxes (the burden of which, says Frum, a majority of Americans already consider "reasonable").
Frum also notes that the GOP is losing ground in the best-educated states:
Leaving aside the District of Columbia, 7 of America’s 10 best-educated states are strongly “blue” in national politics, and the others (Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia) have been trending blue. Of the 10 least-educated, only one (Nevada) is not reliably Republican. And so we arrive at a weird situation in which the party that identifies itself with markets, with business and with technology cannot win the votes of those who have prospered most from markets, from business and from technology.
Republicans have been badly hurt in upper America by the collapse of their onetime reputation for integrity and competence. Upper Americans live in a world in which things work. The packages arrive overnight. The car doors clink seamlessly shut. The prevailing Republican view — “of course government always fails, what do you expect it to do?” — is not what this slice of America expects to hear from the people asking to be entrusted with the government [David Frum, "The Vanishing Republican Voter," New York Times, 2008.09.05].
Remember, this is conservative Frum talking. The old "Guv'mint can't do nothin' right!" grunt doesn't seem to fly with this generation of educated professionals. Obama's "Yes We Can!" taps into this mindset: even if government is failing certain areas, educated voters believe we can fix it and make it work in our interest again.
The McCain campaign is apparently counting on uneducated voters to buy into the politics of image and personality and not trouble themselves with what those darned elitist eggheads say about silly things like economic policy. Maybe the McCain campaign should pay a little more attention to conservative eggheads like Frum, who see their successful, educated neighbors voting ever more for the other party.
Update 11:04 CDT: More on middle class policy—AP offers this breakdown of who gets what under the Obama and McCain tax cut plans:
|Income Bracket||Fed. taxes under Obama||Fed. taxes under McCain|
|Wealthiest 1% (making $600K+/yr)||+$93,709||–$48,860|
|Middle 20% (making $37,600–$66,400/yr)||–$1,118||–$325|
|Bottom 20% (making $19K or less/yr)||–$567||–$21|