Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Class Conscious? Economic Inequality, Party Commitments, and Class Rhetoric in American Presidential Campaigns

42 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2015  

Jesse H. Rhodes

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Kaylee Johnson

University of Massachusetts Amherst - Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 4, 2015

Abstract

The growing gap in outcomes and opportunities between citizens of different economic classes over the past five decades has given rise to an explosion of scholarly research on the ways in which economic inequality has reshaped the politics of class in American life. To date, however, this work has largely ignored whether - and if so, how - this development has affected the politics of presidential campaigning. Drawing on a comprehensive new dataset of presidential candidate class appeals over the 1952- 2012 period, we analyze trends in the volume, tone, and policy linkages of Democratic and Republican candidate class appeals. We show that these trends are closely linked to the rise in economic inequality, but that party differences have mediated this relationship, with Democratic candidates making much more extensive use of class rhetoric. Given mounting evidence that elected officials are most responsive to the wealthy, our findings raise concerns that candidates are increasingly exploiting the salient language of class for purely tactical purposes.

Suggested Citation

Rhodes, Jesse H. and Johnson, Kaylee, Class Conscious? Economic Inequality, Party Commitments, and Class Rhetoric in American Presidential Campaigns (February 4, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2560427 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2560427

Jesse Rhodes (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts at Amherst ( email )

Department of Operations and Information Managemen
Amherst, MA 01003
United States
413-545-6185 (Phone)

Kaylee Johnson

University of Massachusetts Amherst - Department of Political Science ( email )

Thompson Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
56
Rank
318,901
Abstract Views
220