Chart of the Day: Democrats and the White Working Class #2

Yesterday I challenged you to figure out why working-class white voters identified themselves with the Democratic Party quite stably for nearly two decades—including 2008, when about half of them voted for Obama—but then suddenly abandoned the party in big numbers starting a year after Obama was elected. The most common guess had to do with the tanking of the economy, but that doesn’t really work. There have have been good times and bad times ever since World War II, and the bad times don’t routinely cause working class whites to abandon the Democratic Party. Besides, if that were the case, you’d expect this group to steadily return to the party after about 2012, when the economy recovered. They didn’t.

No, it’s something else. To help you out, here’s another chart. It’s from the Wall Street Journal, and it shows gun sales suddenly rising starting in 2009 and then suddenly slumping after 2016. Sales were high during the Obama era, and only during the Obama era.

What could be the cause of this? Whatever could be the cause?


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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