The mounds of data to which I refer comes from Thomas Piketty, the French political economist who made waves with his 2013 book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century.” This paper, entitled “Brahmin Left vs. Merchant Right: Rising Inequality & the Changing Structure of Political Conflict,” analyzes around 70 years of post-election surveys from three countries — Britain, the United States and France — to comprehend how Western politics have changed in that span. (Note: I wrote about this paper in Salon last year in a slightly different context, before the 2020 Democratic Primary really got going.)
First, the sheer amount of data analyzed in Piketty’s paper is stunning. He and his researchers analyze voters in those three countries by income (broken into deciles), education, party, gender, religion and income disparity. The final 106 pages of the paper consist of graphs and charts. This is a seriously detailed data analysis that took years of work, and any intelligent political party operative should take it very seriously.
Now, for the findings. Piketty’s basic thesis is that poorer and less educated voters were historically the kind of voters who voted for left and left-liberal parties. These voters understood that their class interests did not align with the right-wing parties of the rich; thus, historically, the “high-income, high education” voters picked the right-wing parties.