In major flip, House Dems now represent richest regions

by Dennis Cauchon
USA Today

Democratic members of the House of Representatives now represent most of the nation’s wealthiest people, a sharp turnaround from the long-standing dominance that Republicans have held over affluent districts.

A USA TODAY analysis of new Census data found that Democrats represent a far different constituency today than they did in 2005, when they were the minority in the House, or in 1990, when they were the majority.

The Democratic-controlled House is now an unusual combination of the richest and poorest districts, the best and least educated, and the best and the worst insured. The analysis found that Democrats have attracted educated, affluent whites who had tended previously to vote Republican.

Democrats now represent 57% of the 4.8 million households that had incomes of $200,000 or more in 2008. In 2005, Republicans represented 55% of those affluent households.

“Democrats have made enormous gains in affluent, educated suburban districts,” says Warren Glimpse, founder of Proximity, a firm that analyzes demographics. “What’s not clear is whether this reflects a profound change or a temporary blip.”

The Democrats’ new coalition of extremes could cause friction on issues such as health care and tax policy because of Democratic proposals to raise taxes on affluent households.

“We’re going to win back the hearts and minds of affluent voters when people see what the left-leaning Democrats do on health care and the economy,” says Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy. His state’s three most affluent districts have flipped from Republican control to Democrats since 2006.

Ruy Teixeira of the liberal Center for American Progress disagrees: “The movement of professionals to the Democratic Party is a long-term realignment in American politics.”

More at USA Today.

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