The Center for Working-Class Politics is a research institution dedicated to projects including regular surveys of working-class voters, statistical analyses of elections and polling data, and the construction of a comprehensive database of progressive candidate demographics, strategy, and messaging.

A founding assumption of the Center for Working-Class Politics is that progressives can only expand their appeal — and achieve their political aims — by winning a larger share of support from working-class voters.

Two key realities support this point of view.

First, the working class makes up by far the largest share of the American electorate. In 2020, 63% of voters did not have college degrees, and 74% of voters came from households making less than $100,000 a year. For much of the twentieth century, these less-educated, lower-income voters were mostly loyal Democrats. But since the 1970s, and more rapidly in the last decade, large parts of the working class have drifted away from the Democratic Party. Looking to the future, it is difficult to imagine a victorious progressive coalition that does not reverse this trend, and ultimately incorporate a much larger share of working-class voters.

Second, the working class has a special relationship to progressive policy: it stands to benefit most from the egalitarian and redistributive reforms that anchor left-wing politics. Historically, the greatest triumphs of American progressives in the twentieth century — from the New Deal to the Civil Rights Movement and the Great Society — were achieved only with a sturdy base of working-class support. The same is true for social-democratic achievements abroad. A progressive politics that does not expand its strength with working-class voters today risks cutting itself loose from the central force that has propelled egalitarian reforms throughout the world.

This is not a simple problem with a clear solution: in fact, the trends have run in the opposite direction for nearly half a century. It is a problem that calls for focused study.

Specifically, our work asks three basic questions:

  1. How can progressives win in working-class America?
  2. What are the electoral advantages and disadvantages of various kinds of progressive platforms and messaging? Can different progressive messages work in different areas?
  3. How can progressives more effectively engage low-propensity working-class voters across lines of race and geography, especially outside large cities?