Reagan Democrat

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{government, party, election}
{black, white, people}
{rate, high, increase}
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{work, book, publish}
{woman, child, man}
{line, north, south}
{county, mile, population}

Reagan Democrat is an American political term used by political analysts to denote traditionally Democratic voters, especially white working-class Northerners, who defected from their party to support Republican President Ronald Reagan in both the 1980 and 1984 elections. It is also used to refer to the smaller but still substantial number of Democrats who voted for George H. W. Bush in the 1988 election. The term can also be used to describe moderate Democrats who are more conservative than liberal on certain issues like national security and immigration.

The work of Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg is a classic study of Reagan Democrats. Greenberg analyzed white ethnic voters (largely unionized auto workers) in Macomb County, Michigan, just north of Detroit. The county voted 63 percent for John F. Kennedy in 1960, but 66 percent for Reagan in 1980. He concluded that "Reagan Democrats" no longer saw Democrats as champions of their working class aspirations, but instead saw them as working primarily for the benefit of others: the very poor, feminists, the unemployed, African Americans, Latinos, and other groups. In addition, Reagan Democrats enjoyed gains during the period of economic prosperity that coincided with the Reagan administration following the "malaise" of the Carter administration. They also supported Reagan's strong stance on national security and opposed the 1980s Democratic Party on such issues as pornography, crime, and taxes.[1]

Greenberg periodically revisited the voters of Macomb County as a barometer of public opinion until he conducted a 2008 exit poll that found "nearly 60 percent" of Macomb County voters were "'comfortable' with Mr. Obama," drawing the conclusion that Macomb County had "become normal and uninteresting" and "illustrates America's evolving relationship with race." As such, Greenberg stated in an op-ed for the New York Times "I’m finished with the Reagan Democrats of Macomb County in suburban Detroit after making a career of spotlighting their middle-class anger and frustrations about race and Democratic politicians."[2].

In the United Kingdom, the term Essex man can be used to describe a similar group of usually Labour-voting working-class voters who switched to voting for Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives in the 1980s, thanks to her right to buy scheme in particular. In Australia, the term "Howard battler" was used to refer to suburban, working class and traditionally Labor voters who shifted to the John Howard led Liberal Party in the mid 90s and carried the conservatives into victory for the first time since Malcolm Fraser.

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