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Reagan Democrat is an American political term used by political analysts to denote traditionally Democratic voters, especially white working-class Northerners, who defected from their party to support Republican President Ronald Reagan in both the 1980 and 1984 elections. It is also used to refer to the smaller but still substantial number of Democrats who voted for George H. W. Bush in the 1988 election. The term can also be used to describe moderate Democrats who are more conservative than liberal on certain issues like national security and immigration.

The work of Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg is a classic study of Reagan Democrats. Greenberg analyzed white ethnic voters (largely unionized auto workers) in Macomb County, Michigan, just north of Detroit. The county voted 63 percent for John F. Kennedy in 1960, but 66 percent for Reagan in 1980. He concluded that "Reagan Democrats" no longer saw Democrats as champions of their working class aspirations, but instead saw them as working primarily for the benefit of others: the very poor, the unemployed, African Americans, and other groups. In addition, Reagan Democrats enjoyed gains during the period of economic prosperity that coincided with the Reagan administration following the "malaise" of the Carter administration. They also supported Reagan's strong stance on national security and opposed the 1980s Democratic Party on such issues as pornography, crime, and taxes.[1]

Researchers have not tracked what political path these voters took after the end of the Reagan and the elder Bush administrations.

In the United Kingdom, the term Essex man can be used to describe a similar group of usually Labour-voting working-class voters who switched to voting for Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives in the 1980s, thanks to her right to buy scheme in particular. In Australia, the term "Howard battler" was used to refer to suburban, working class and traditionally Labor voters who shifted to the John Howard led Liberal Party in the mid 90s and carried the conservatives into victory for the first time since Malcolm Fraser.

The term Reagan Democrat also refers to the vast sway that Reagan held over the House of Representatives during his presidency, even though the house had a Democratic majority during both of his terms.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b Greenberg (1996)

Further reading

  • Fairfax, Anthony Edward (2005). The Democratic Trend Phenomena: The Predictability of the Democratic Vote for President. Hampton, VA: MediaChannel. ISBN 0975254618.  
  • Gainsborough, Juliet F. (2001). Fenced Off: The Suburbanization of American Politics. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press. ISBN 0878408304.  
  • Greenberg, Stanley B. (1996). Middle Class Dreams: Politics and Power of the New American Majority. New York: Times Books. ISBN 0812923456.  
  • Greenberg, Stanley B. (2004). The Two Americas: Our Current Political Deadlock and how to Break it. New York: Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 0312318383.  
  • Judis, John B. (2004). The Emerging Democratic Majority. New York: Scribner. ISBN 0743226917.  
  • Teixeira, Ruy A.; Rogers, Joel (2001). America's Forgotten Majority: Why the White Working Class Still Matters. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0465083986.  

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