Financially insecure are less likely to be politically active

Voting

The financially insecure, those that may have trouble paying bills or may not have retirement savings, are completely opting out of politics in large numbers, according to The Pew Research Center.

The center divided people into five groups of financial security and only 54 percent of the least secure group were registered to vote in 2014 compared to 94 percent of the most financially secure group.

The research challenges a common assumption:

When it comes to choosing a party’s candidate in the voting booth, one pattern in modern American politics is so familiar it has become a truism: the rich vote Republican, the poor vote Democratic.

Pew found that support for Democrats was largely consistent across the range of financial security. The party received between 39-43 percent of support in each of the five groups.

Republicans received 49 percent of support among the most secure group and 17 percent among the least secure group.

The difference was that 41 percent of the least secure group had no preference between the two parties and were highly unlikely to vote.

As a consequence, in 2014, the Democratic Party left far more potential votes “on the table” than did the Republicans. For example, among all of those in the least financially secure category, more than twice as many favored the Democratic candidate over the Republican (42% to 17%). But just 12% of this group favored the Democrat and were likely voters; fully 30% supported Democrats but were unlikely to vote.

The Pew Research Center analyzed financial security along a variety of metrics including having bank accounts and credit cards, having trouble paying rent or bills, and receiving government benefits such as food stamps or Medicaid. The center’s analysis was based off an online and mail survey of 3,154 people from Sept. 9, 2014 to Oct. 3, 2014.

Reach Eric Holmberg at 412-315-0266 or at eholmberg@publicsource.org. Follow him on Twitter @holmberges.