BLUE COLLAR CATHOLICS FOCUS ON UNEMPLOYMENT AND CLASS DIVIDEMay 26, 2012
As part of our Target Voter Series, Resurgent Republic sponsored four focus groups among Blue Collar Catholic voters in Cleveland, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. These respondents all voted for President Obama in 2008, but are undecided on the generic presidential ballot today. Following are key highlights pertaining to unemployment and the growing division between classes.
Universally, the participants believe the “real unemployment” is significantly higher than reported and that “quality jobs” are not being created. One female voter in Pittsburgh began this discussion by asking, “Is the reduction of unemployment an accomplishment? Not when you know five people who are unemployed.” These groups feel the national unemployment rate is not realistic and believe there are many unemployed who “fall off the rolls.” In both Cleveland and Pittsburgh, there was consensus that the real unemployment rate is closer to 14 or 15 percent. In describing his desire for a quality job, one Cleveland male said, “You are not going to find a job making the same money you used to. If there is a $20 an hour job out there, the line is out the door.”
Working class voters believe they are carrying the country while the rich and poor play by different rules. They see themselves as hardworking people who pay the lion’s share of taxes and have little to show for their work in terms of career advancement, financial security or a better quality of life. Conversely, they see the poor and unemployed as taking advantage of their hard work by collecting welfare. They see the rich as not contributing their fair share of taxes and getting richer at their expense. Describing her feeling of being caught in the middle, one female voter in Cleveland said, “My fear is that this is the new normal. You work hard and don’t get paid for it. You don’t get a raise.”