Money Walks Leftward: Republicans Are Losing Ground among the Affluent, Too

Source Organization: Pew Research Center

04/12/2007 - The Republican Party has traditionally garnered it strongest backing among wealthier voters. But the recent overall decline in Republican Party affiliation nationwide has taken a toll even on GOP support among affluent voters. The latest Pew surveys find Democrats pulling even with Republicans among registered voters with annual family incomes in excess of roughly $135,000 per annum. Overall, while remarkably high voter enthusiasm is undoubtedly the key factor in the Democratic Party's fundraising success in 2006 and thus far this year, the pool of potential campaign donors is also less tilted toward the GOP today than it has been in the past.

Pew Research Center surveys conducted over the past 13 years reveals a stark change in the party identification among the wealthiest voters – defined here as those in the top 10% of household incomes. In 1995, the year after the Republicans took control of the House and Senate, there were nearly twice as many Republicans (46%) as Democrats (25%) among the most affluent 10% of registered voters (household incomes of approximately $84,000 or more at the time). By comparison, there are just as many Democrats (31%) as Republicans (32%) among this class of voters today (household incomes of approximately $135,000 or more).

As has been the case nationwide, the shifting balance has had more to do with Republican losses than Democratic gains. Within the past two years, Republican Party identification has fallen nine percentage points among the wealthiest voters (from 41% to 32%), while Democratic identification is up just three points. This mirrors the overall pattern nationwide, which shows a sizeable decline in GOP identification, and only modest growth in Democratic Party identification.

While much of the shifting balance among affluent voters reflects changes in the national mood, two important demographic changes among high income voters are related to the parties' fortunes. First, members of minority groups constitute a greater share of high-income voters than at any time in the past. The proportion of top-income voters who are black, Hispanic, or from another racial minority background has doubled from 10% in 1995 to 21% today, while the proportion who are white has dropped from 90% to 79%.

Read the full report Money Walks Leftward: Republicans Are Losing Ground among the Affluent, Too at the Pew Research Center Web site.

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