One of the most talked about groups in recent elections has been the white working class. Although the group has declined as a share of the nation since World War II, it is still very large at nearly 40 percent of the national electorate. Understanding its views and values is essential to political victory, so it isn’t surprising that politicians of all stripes are working hard to gain such an understanding. Andrew Levinson’s insightful new book The White Working Class Today: Who They Are, How They Think, and How Progressives Can Regain Their Support tries to provide his fellow progressives with a road map for success with a group Democrats have lost by double digits in recent elections. But the book is more valuable as a source of data and information crucial to strategists of all ideological stripes.
Levinson argues that the white working class, contrary to most elite opinions, is not a largely Republican constituency even though Republicans have won the group by double-digit margins in recent elections. He persuasively documents this with opinion surveys that show that these voters are less ideologically conservative than generally recognized. He further shows that many white working class voters hold contradictory views on most issues, views that blend themes from the right and the left.