Old Chris Christie 2016 campaign slogan: “We’re all in this together.” New Chris Christie 2016 campaign slogan: “Eat the rich.”
This is noteworthy, but not quite worth the breathless hype I’ve seen in some quarters on Twitter:
Proof positive that O’s about to win mass converts on the right with his predictably-themed income inequality speech for the SOTU? Nah. To some extent, disgruntlement over wealth distribution is a natural byproduct of the long, slow jobless Hopenchange “recovery.” Go figure that someone from either party who’s been unemployed for six months and is worried about making the rent might express dissatisfaction when you suggest that the working class has enough wealth. It doesn’t necessarily follow that they favor redistribution as the solution; it may be that they’re simply desperate for more opportunity, which means more jobs. Follow the last link, in fact, and you’ll find Democrats debating exactly that question in terms of whether O should emphasize inequality or growth in the State of the Union.
On the other hand, this is striking:
Roughly 60 percent of Republicans and Democrats are basically satisfied with the opportunity they have now. Independents are different — just 45 percent are satisfied versus a clear majority who aren’t. Rarely do you find the two parties lined up on a question in any poll while indies are way out on a limb. What’s going on? The answer, I think, is that members of each party have reasons to defend the status quo that independents don’t. Democrats want to believe that Obamanomics is working; Republicans want to believe that America is and always will be the land of opportunity. Independents aren’t buying either explanation anymore. No doubt some chunk of them now define themselves as independents precisely because they’ve given up on the two parties’ ability to create job opportunities. They’re the ones whom O’s SOTU is aimed at, I imagine, not working-class Republicans. Although, given how tired his shtick is as we start year six, it’s hard to believe any of them are still listening.
As for working-class Republicans, they’re not going to embrace class warfare anytime soon but this poll is a caution (another caution), I think, that party leaders need to follow Mike Lee’s lead and start concentrating more on this segment of their base. “You didn’t build that” is fine for ideologues like me but it doesn’t do much for that apolitical guy who’s been laid off for six months. In fact, remember this poll from Pew in 2011?
Downscale, working-class Republican voters are precisely the group that Sean Trende suspects stayed home in droves in 2012, possibly costing Romney the election. Evangelicals turned out strongly; it was blue-collar whites in other regions, especially the midwest, who didn’t bother voting because, Trende thinks, ultimately they couldn’t relate to a multimillionaire businessman prone to grumbling about the “47 percent” whose agenda wasn’t really aimed at them. The GOP needs to do better next time. That’s one (but only one) reason why Beltway Republicans have taken a shine to Christie: They’re convinced that his persona will get those voters to pay attention in a way that no other candidate’s, or at least no other establishment candidate’s, persona would. I think they’re overestimating the value of his personality, but it’s in their nature to try to solve problems by firing magic bullets at them rather than thinking hard about how to reorient the party’s agenda to please a broader constituency. (See also immigration reform and outreach to Latinos.) But at least they’re aware of the problem. Now all they need to do is solve it. Time for a huddle with Mike Lee.