Class Divisions in
As noted throughout the prior analysis, the conventional wisdom is that class divisions in American politics have steadily declined as cultural, social, and racial issues displaced them as sources of political division. The results in Chapter 5 indicate, however, that if income is used as a measure of class, the trend is one of increasing class political divisions. The difference in these findings is not trivial. The results in Chapter 5 suggest that parties play more of a role than is recognized in organizing the electorate along economic lines, and that the reactions by the electorate about issues should be reconsidered. But such reconsiderations will follow only after the emerging class divisions are recognized as "facts" in need of explanation. They do not have that status now, and probably will not for some time, given the predominance of the conventional wisdom. 1
Given the discrepancy between the predominant conclusion and the findings presented here, there is the important question: How could such a discrepancy emerge? Although this book concerns changes in the electoral bases and concerns of parties, electoral reactions, and the extent to which the parties organize political debate around class issues, the question of how this divergence could occur is worthy of considerable attention. Anyone reading the current literature is likely to be very puzzled about the difference and wonder how it could have developed.
Attempting to answer this question involves answering two major questions. First, the relatively simple empirical question is whether the two indicators -- self-identified class and income level -- really differ in the extent of political division associated with them. Assuming there is a sig
An earlier version of this appendix was presented at the 1998 American Political Science Association Meetings, Boston, September 1998.