What Obama Knows About the Middle Class

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And Americans themselves became more wary of international engagement.

Peggy Noonan: How Obama Wooed the Middle Class - WSJ

Views on some high-profile social issues shifted rapidly. Eight states and the District of Columbia legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, a legal shift accompanied by a striking reversal in public opinion: For the first time on record, a majority of Americans now support legalization of the drug. Even before the court issued its landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges , a majority of Americans said for the first time that they favored same-sex marriage. As the Obama era draws to a close, Pew Research Center looks back on these and other important social, demographic and political shifts that have occurred at home and abroad during the tenure of the 44th president.

And we look ahead to some of the trends that could define the tenure of the 45th, Donald Trump. Even so, the U.

President Obama on Extending Middle-Class Tax Breaks

In , for the first time, the majority of newborn babies in the U. Nearly one-in-three eligible voters on Election Day were Hispanic, black, Asian or another racial or ethnic minority, reflecting a steady rise since Strong growth in the number of Hispanic eligible voters , in particular U.

Indeed, for the first time, the Hispanic share of the electorate is now on par with the black share. While illegal immigration served as a flashpoint in the tumultuous campaign to succeed Obama, there has been little change in the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U. And for the first time since the s, more Mexican immigrants — both legal and unauthorized — have returned to Mexico from the U.

The share of Americans identifying with evangelical Protestantism, historically black Protestant denominations and other smaller Christian groups, by contrast, have remained fairly stable. At the same time, the large majority of Americans who do identify with a faith are, on average, as religiously observant as they were a few years ago, and by some measures even more so.

The tide of demographic changes in the U.


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Democratic voters are becoming less white, less religious and better-educated at a faster rate than that of the country, while Republicans are aging more quickly than the country as a whole. Education, in particular, has emerged as an important dividing line in recent years, with college graduates becoming more likely to identify as Democrats and those without a college degree becoming more likely to identify as Republicans. Partisan divisions in assessments of presidential performance, for example, are wider now than at any point going back more than six decades, and this growing gap is largely the result of increasing disapproval of the chief executive from the opposition party.

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President Obama on Middle Class Economics

Notes: Data from Eisenhower through George H. Bush from Gallup. Because some earlier data did not include partisan leaning, Republicans and Democrats in this graphic do not include leaners. Source: Survey conducted Nov. Today, more issues cleave along partisan lines than at any point since surveys began to track public opinion. Beginning around , however, they began to diverge. And the gap has only grown wider since then: Democrats today are more than twice as likely as Republicans to say that immigrants strengthen the country.

Gun control has long been a partisan issue, with Democrats considerably more likely than Republicans to say it is more important to control gun ownership than protect gun rights. But what was a percentage-point gap between supporters of Obama and John McCain on this question in surged to a historic point gap between Clinton and Trump supporters in Climate change marks another area where the parties are deeply divided.

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Wide partisan divides stretch from the causes and cures for climate change to trust in climate scientists and their research. This compares with more than half of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. Americans felt disillusioned with the way Washington responded to the financial meltdown of Against a backdrop of global terrorism — including several attacks on American soil — Americans also became less confident in the ability of their government to handle threats.

Americans also had serious concerns about privacy, though the government was not the sole focus of skepticism in this respect.


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During the Obama years, Americans were highly skeptical their personal information would remain private and secure, regardless of whether it was the government or the private sector that collected it. In a survey, fewer than one-in-ten Americans said they were very confident that each of 11 separate entities — ranging from credit card companies to email providers — would keep their records private and secure.

In Germany, favorability of the U. In the United Kingdom, confidence in the U. Giving meaning to this notion, Obama unveiled a package of middle-class-focused reforms: these encompassed subsidies for childcare, provisions for maternity and sick leave, a plan to make community college free, and infrastructure investment.

These proposals are unlikely to get through the Republican-controlled congress. While Obama may eke out a bit of legislation, his dual concerns are best seen as pre-positioning the Hillary Clinton campaign for a centrist offensive, while driving the Republican Party to the right. Indeed, it is a time-honoured process, one Hillary herself no doubt appreciates.

Four years later and Tony Blair would similarly box out British conservatives.

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In turn, in this light, Obama can be seen as seeking to drive a wedge between moderate, pro-business Republicans and their Tea Party brethren. Having occupied the middle, he now seeks to fracture the opposition. Indeed, initial Republican reactions to the address would suggest that he is succeeding. Not only Tea Party types but also party moderates moved to condemn his appeals as divisive. While each of these stances may please the party faithful, they may lack broader resonance.

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This helps explain why Hillary Clinton continues to lead every likely Republican challenger in recent polls. Romney was prepared to repeal Dodd-Frank and dismantle or weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the law. This election is therefore a victory for Main Street taxpayers, who will retain the protection of the powerful consumer watchdog guarding against abusive practices that contributed to the financial crisis that caused the Great Recession in Dodd-Frank will also decrease the likelihood of future systemic failures and ensure that bank investors—not middle-class taxpayers—foot the bill when important financial institutions fail.

The financial sector is a crucial part of the U. Voters in this election made clear that Congress consider the interests of Main Street as much as or more than those of Wall Street. Lawmakers should come together to strengthen , not weaken, financial regulatory reform. An electoral victory for the middle class should translate into middle-class-focused policies. Those policies will help more than just middle-class families.


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