Middle-class is Fearful

(6:00PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

It is the economy, again, stupid.   Working class families are fearful, but the opportunity for mis-information is high.  

Senator Obama is using the Detroit Labor Day kickoff to emphasize three messages: addressing the needs of working people, the key role unions play in the election, and the role of manufacturing and the auto industry,” Shaiken said. Both the Democratic presidential nominee and Republican rival Sen. John McCain are fighting for union members — a key voting bloc in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other swing states. Link

Obama/Biden and the populist message are on-track.  

Drum Major Institute’s (DMI) first annual survey on the Middle Class and Public Policy reveals that America’s middle-class households are fearful families – overwhelmingly pessimistic about the direction of the country, especially the economy and high gas prices.

Most have little flexibility in their own economic situations and have little if anything left over each month after meeting basic expenses. The middle class is disgruntled with the direction of the country and politicians and see little coming out of Washington that would give them cause for optimism.

Middle-class Americans do know what they want.

The nation’s middle class broadly agrees on a range of public policies aimed at easing their economic woes.  They support:

*a universal national health insurance plan,

Three-quarters (75% excellent/good idea) of middle-class adults think a national health insurance plan is a good idea for the county, including 41% who think it is an excellent idea.

*requiring employers to provide paid family and medical leave,

Requiring employers to provide paid family and medical leave was also a highly popular proposal (71% excellent/good idea) and was strongly favored by supporters of both Barack Obama (81%) and John McCain (63%).

*making it easier for employees to join labor unions, and

68% support allowing employees to be represented by a union when a majority of co-workers sign cards requesting representation.

*allowing bankruptcy judges to change mortgage payments to keep homes out of foreclosure.

A majority of middle-class adults (62%) say it is a good idea to allow bankruptcy judges to change the mortgage payments due on a homeowner’s primary residence in order to prevent foreclosure.

Regardless of party affiliation or presidential preference, these Fearful Families think largely alike.  

A majority of middle-class adults – whether they are Democrats, Republicans, or independents and whether they are supporters of John McCain or Barack Obama for President – believe that these policies represent good ideas for the country.


Yet there is a profound disconnect between the nation’s legislators and their middle-class constituents.

 – Most cannot name a single law passed by Congress over the last two years that has benefited their household.  

– They do not know how their congressional representatives voted on these issues.  

– 75% of middle-class adults say they only receive communications from their member of Congress at election time – if they hear from them at all.

– Middle-class adults have an overwhelmingly negative perception of the job Congress is doing to represent their interests.


According to DMI Executive Director Andrea Batista Schlesinger, “The DMI Poll indicates that the fate of the 2008 election may very well hinge on whether middle-class voters become informed enough to look beyond pro-middle class campaign rhetoric and judge candidates based on their actions when they mattered most; namely, when it was time to vote on actual legislation. With two Senators running for president – along with one-third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives up for election – the stakes of misinformation or ignorance are high.  

“The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy’s First Annual Survey on the Middle Class and Public Policy Finds Broad Policy Agreement Among ‘Fearful Families'” is available online.  The full report  on the DMI Poll was released August 2008.  


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    • dkmich on September 1, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Happy Labor Day everyone.  

  1. Those figures for Congress are depressing, though not surprising.

    To me, this all boils down to whether or not folks will fall for the Repub distractions (which is all they’ve got) or not.  Obama got a good start at the Convention and he has to keep pressing through all the bullshit if he’s going to win the Presidency.

    (P.S.:  are you hung over today??  ;-D)

  2. When I was young, 18, 19, 20-I worked in a GM factory in Marion Ind. (I also worked in the same RCA plant as Barney Smith at about the same time during a layoff from GM) and had a good Union job.  Now I’m a Public Defender for a good sized county in N. California and have only marginally more buying power than I had as a 20 year old with a good job.  Some better, but a house now costs about 5x my yearly salary, then it cost about 2x.

    I’m not complaining, just trying to point out that most people who think they are middle class are not.  They are working poor-they are not destitute, but they are not secure either.  The thing about the middle-class when I was there as a kid, was its stability and the sense that barring total stupidity or calamity you could get by and have some fun.  I think McCain’s stupid remark about needing $5m to be considered rich is pretty correct.  There are plenty of streets in my town where $5m wouldn’t make you the wealthiest on the block.

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