Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Reveal Navigation

Santorum's Opportunity: Working-Class Republicans Santorum's Opportunity: Working-Class Republicans Santorum's Opportunity: Working-Class Republicans Santorum's Opportunity: W...

share
This ad will end in seconds
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation

 

Blogs

Santorum's Opportunity: Working-Class Republicans

GOP Presidential Candidate Riick Santorum meets with supporters at a football watchng party at the Okoboji Grill restaurant in Johnston, Iowa.(Ralf-Finn Hestoft)

January 2, 2012

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Rick Santorum would face formidable challenges in converting even a strong Iowa showing Tuesday night into a full-scale national challenge to restored GOP front-runner Mitt Romney. But with a working-class style and message, Santorum could have one weapon: the changing demography of the Republican electorate.

The growing blue-collar presence in the Republican primary could offer Santorum a base from which to challenge Romney because the former Massachusetts governor has not demonstrated a consistent appeal to those voters. In surveys, Romney, the unruffled Harvard Business School-educated former investment banker, has frequently attracted slightly more support from Republicans with a college-degree than those without one.

That could leave a downscale opening for a potential rival -- if anyone can consolidate that blue-collar block against him. "That's the issue," says Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster working with a super committee supporting former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

The changing nature of the GOP primary electorate reflects the overall shift in each party's coalition over the past generation -- a process I've called the "class inversion." In the first decades after World War II, every Democratic presidential nominee ran much more strongly among white voters without a college-education than whites with at least a four- year degree. But, particularly as non-economic issues from racial integration to abortion grew more important, the parties have switched positions. In each presidential election since 2000, the Democratic nominee has run better among college-educated whites than non-college whites; meanwhile working-class white families have become the cornerstone of the Republican electoral coalition.

Get us in your feed.
More Blogs