What's Depressing the White Working Class These Days? Everything

More

When pollsters ask Americans who they fault for our economic woes these days, we seem to come back with a very troubling answer: We blame everybody.

Last month, The Pew Research Center released a lengthy study of the U.S. middle class that found its ire directed at banks, Congress, large corporations, the Obama and Bush administrations, and foreign competition. The only people the middle class didn't seem angry with were middle class families themselves.   

Today, the Public Religion Research Institute is out with a somewhat similar survey focusing on the white working class -- that large, shrinking, and ever-obsessed-about portion of the electorate that still has enough power to tip an election. The results captured below aren't far different from what Pew found of middle income families. Whites who have never been to college are ready to blame big companies, big government, and big finance for what ails us. They're also ready to blame immigrants. 

Public_Religion_WWC_Runing_Economy.PNG

College grads are a bit less indiscriminate. Their beliefs seem to fit a slightly more liberal mold -- more enmity towards corporations and Bush, less towards immigrants, the government, and Obama. But overall (in keeping with what Ron Fournier and Sophie Quinton have written for National Journal), whites have very little faith in our important institutions, just resentment.    

And maybe that's fair. Some of these causes fit uneasily with each other -- squaring blame on Wall Street and blame on regulation seems is a bit of a leap -- but you could make at least some case for each of them. The question isn't so much whether these sentiments are misguided. It's where will people turn to for economic answers when they've lost this much trust for the people even somewhat in control? I don't have an answer for that. I'm not sure anybody does. 

__________________

*For a look at the political implications of the survey, check out my colleague Molly Ball's post from earlier today. 

Jump to comments
Presented by

Jordan Weissmann is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In