In the wake of the 2016 elections, politicians and the media have placed renewed interest on the policy preferences of so-called working-class Americans. A number of commentators interpreted the 2016 elections as a referendum by the disaffected white working class, spurring a focus on courting those voters. But in some cases, these narratives have relied on assumptions rather than evidence when it comes to defining the working class and identifying what types of policies are important to them. Policymakers are right to consider the policy preferences of working-class voters; just as importantly, they need to be wary of efforts that inaccurately portray the working class as racially homogenous or opposed to progressive policies.
Previous research from the Center for American Progress Action Fund showed that, like college-educated workers, working-class Americans—defined as people of all races in the workforce without a four-year college degree—overwhelmingly support a range of progressive economic policies, including those to raise the minimum wage, ensure paid leave, increase spending on health care and retirement, and increase regulation of Wall Street. That research also confirmed that today’s working class is racially and ethnically diverse and that white, Black, and Hispanic working-class people all support these types of progressive economic policies.The above excerpt was originally published in CAP Action.