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?

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If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

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