In what could be a significant opening for the Republican Party, working-class Americans have largely abandoned President Obama and rejected his economic policies as they continue to suffer from the historically weak economic recovery, a new analysis of IBD/TIPP Poll data finds.
By wide margins, this group is more likely to say the country is headed in the wrong direction, the economy is getting worse, and they fear losing their jobs than any other income class.
Just 36% approve of the job Obama is doing as president, compared with 43% overall, and vast majorities say his policies haven't helped the middle class.
Over the past two months, IBD has asked people to identify themselves as either upper class, upper-middle class, middle class, working class, or lower class.
The average income for self-described working class families was just over $50,700 a year — which is close to the national median household income. Those calling themselves middle class had an average income of $70,800, and the average for upper-middle class was close to $100,000.
High Economic Anxiety
For several years, Obama said his policies would produce "bottom up prosperity," and in his State of the Union address in January, he claimed they were "helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change."
The IBD/TIPP Poll shows the opposite. Working-class families are overwhelmingly discouraged with the economy and anxious about their prospects, more so than the country at large and far more than upper-middle class families, who are generally happy with the way things are going.
For example, nearly two thirds of the working class (64%) say the country is headed in the wrong direction. Nearly as many (60%) say they're not satisfied with federal economic policies. And 53% say the economy is not improving.
This is in sharp contrast to the views of the upper-middle class. More than half of this group (51%) say the country is headed in the right direction, 53% are satisfied with federal economic policies, and 65% say the economy is improving.
Meanwhile, about 43% of working-class families are worried that they or someone in their household could lose their jobs in the next 12 months. That's higher than any other income class — even lower-class people are less concerned. Just 28% of the nation as a whole are worried about layoffs.
The working class are even more likely to say their taxes are too high (61% say this) than the middle class (49%), the upper-middle class (48%), or the nation as a whole (52%).
Worse for Democrats, the working class clearly blame Obama for their plight, despite the fact that they had roughly the same partisan and ideological split as the country overall (38% of the working class said they are Democrats, compared with 34% of all those polled, for example), and a similar racial makeup.
Almost two thirds (63%) of the working class say Obama's policies have not significantly improved the economic conditions of the middle class. Overall, that figure is 55%. Among the middle class, it's 52%.
More than half of the working class (53%) hold an unfavorable view of Obama's leadership, and a similar share disapprove of the job he's doing. Both are higher than the nation overall.
Fewer working class think Obama is doing a good job handling the economy, managing the federal budget or creating jobs than other income classes.
The working class are also more likely to oppose ObamaCare (53% oppose the law) and want it repealed (50%), than the country overall (47% and 44% respectively).
They also are far more hostile to Obama's executive action granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants — 62% of the working class oppose it, compared with 49% of the middle class and 48% of the upper-middle class.
The working class is also more likely to want the border secured first, before creating a "path to citizenship" than the rest of the country.
More than half (55%) of the working class even oppose Obama's call for raising taxes on the wealthy Americans "to pay for programs that help lower and middle class families" if it "results in fewer jobs." Among the middle class, only 48% feel this way.
The collapse of support from working-class Americans is becoming an increasing concern among Democrats. The National Journal found that Democrats lost decisively in blue-collar districts in the 2014 midterm elections.
The trend prompted long-time Democratic adviser Stanley Greenberg to issue this harsh warning to his party: "If Democrats cannot figure out how to appeal to today's working-class voters, then they don't deserve to lead."