Based on all the polling which I have seen, the reality of the situation is that the GOP going full populist on economics like it has been moving toward cultural populism isn’t ripe yet.
The constituency for this shift is still somewhere in the range of 20% to 40% of Republican voters while the constituency for cultural populism is somewhere in the 70% to 85% range. While there has been a big influx of working class voters into the Republican Party over the past ten years, the party is still too dependent on older Reaganite Boomer voters who are free market ideologues. Those people are like a third of the Republican Party. The donor class and conservative institutions are also dead set against economic populism. We need to be clear eyed about the real obstacles in the way of this.
“Over the past few decades, the percentage of Americans with a college degree has increased significantly, as has the percentage of good-paying jobs that require one. The biggest sectors in the new “knowledge economy,” like Big Tech and finance, are full of employees with college degrees, while some traditional blue collar sectors like manufacturing have stagnated.
Between 1956 and 2016, Republicans won a majority of whites with college degrees in every single presidential election. But in the Trump years, Republicans’ identity demagoguery pushed college-educated whites — who tend to have more culturally liberal values — into the Democratic camp.
Research suggests that these changes are behind the new corporate willingness to make liberal statements on significant cultural issues, like voter suppression and anti-trans bills. “It’s harder for businesses [now] to stay out of the chaos and say ‘we’re not involved’ in the social issues of the day,” says Zhao Li, a Princeton professor who studies the politics of business. …
For major retail corporations with high brand recognition, like Coca-Cola, the political perceptions of liberals really matters. Not only are there more college graduates than ever, but these graduates have an outsized market share because college graduates make more money. When you combine rising education polarization with other changes to key demographics, like the overwhelmingly liberal preferences of younger Americans, corporations have strong incentives to offer at least symbolic support for socially liberal causes.
But pressure on corporations isn’t just coming from the outside — it’s coming from the inside as well. The increasingly educated and urban workforce at major corporations is also pushing them in a more socially liberal direction. …
Anti-tech Republicans may well fail to bring the party to their side. But the fact that we’re even talking about a conflict between Republicans and corporate America speaks to a fundamental shift in American politics. As white voters continue to polarize along educational lines in the post-Trump era, these skirmishes between two long-time allies deserve real attention. …”
I predict that we will have another cycle or two of culture war politics.
The electorate will continue to resort into opposing camps on cultural issues that pits suburban professionals against working class voters. As this transformation moves along, a tipping point will be reached as the Boomer and Silent Generation voters continue to shrink and as culture war politics attracts more and more working class social conservative voters to the GOP and more and more affluent, social liberals to the Democrats. Eventually, the ideology of the two parties will be forced to change and we will be back in a populist vs. progressive alignment like in the early 20th century.