A few months ago I listened to Frank Newport of Gallup tell Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace that upper class Americans tend to be Democrats. Ryssdal was skeptical, but Newport reiterated himself, and explained that’s just how the numbers shook out. This is important because Newport shows up every now and then to offer up numbers from Gallup to get a pulse of the American nation.
Frankly, Newport was just full of crap. . . . the more income a family has, the more likely they are to be Republican.
Those with higher levels levels of income in every educational category are more likely to vote Republican than those with lower levels of income. Those with graduate degrees are less likely to vote Republican than those with mere college degrees of the same incomes, but the same more income favors more Republican voting trend is there, and the liberal streak seen in graduate educated people v. those will less education is numerically overwhelmed, even among those with high incomes, by their college educated (or less) peers. (The is a bit of a fluke in the tiny category of high income people who are not high school graduates, but that category is still more Republican than Democratic.)
The biggest issue in the numbers of that there may be regional variation between Southern whites and other demographics. As one person making a comment to the post linked above notes: "From 1952 to 2004, the working-class white vote in the South shifted to be 20% more Republican. In the rest of the country – only 1% more Republican!"
As Karl Zimmerman notes in a comment at that post:
Such a study has already been done.“Blue” states show little correlation between income and voting patterns, while “red” states show a high correlation. Even though rich people in all states are more likely to support Republicans than poor people, a larger minority in states like Connecticut support Democrats than in states like Mississippi, which explains why higher-income states overall now tilt to the Democrats.
John Emerson also makes some good comments, including the following:
3. The culture war is between two different groups of well-off people. This squares with other findings showing that the opinions of the poorest third, who vote least and contribute the least money, are scarcely taken into account at all by elected officials.
4. Both rich Republicans and rich Democrats are more socially liberal than they are economically liberal, and poor Democrats are less culturally liberal than economically liberal. So the cultural issues work as a wedge issue.
There’s another definition of class (Ruy Texeira’s) in terms of education. From that point of view, the top tenth is strongly Democratic, but the bottom tenth (all races) is even more strongly Democratic. It’s just less-educated whites that the Democrats have problems with.
80% of the population isn’t really rich or poor, and neither has an advanced degree nor is a HS dropout. That’s where the electoral battle is.
The regional issue also helps to explain why "class warfare" is a resonnant issue in Republican strongholds, where income has a dramatic impact on voting behavior, while sounding tone deaf elsewhere, where income is less strongly tied to political preferences.