Here are two more graphs from Gallup, throwing more cold water on the idea that Democrats can engineer an electoral breakthrough in 2012 by positioning themselves as the party of (for the want of a better term) "class consciousness." To my untrained eye, the first graph suggests that class-consciousness among the polling sample, or something like it, peaked sometime in 2008, and has been regressing to the historic mean ever since:
Moreover,if you consult Gallup's partisan breakout of these numbers, you find that self-identified Democrats are now slightly less class-conscious (58% vs. 61%) than they were three years ago, while Independents are markedly less so (37% vs. 48%).
If that weren't bad enough news for Democrats, it gets worse. To the extent people are class-conscious enough to identify themselves as either "haves" or "have nots," their self-identification has been remarkably stable since the end of the late 1990s economic expansion. Yes, there's a measurable upward slope in the line representing the percentage of people who regard themselves as "have nots" since 1989. But it's not very steep, and it hasn't gotten noticeably steeper over the last couple of years:
Granted, both of these graphs are crude measures at best of the egalitarian sensibility to which Democrats are trying to appeal in 2012. But neither graph suggests that the number of people that share it is much bigger than it was in 1996 and 2008, when Bill Clinton and Obama got elected by pushing class-based appeals into the background of their campaigns. Democrats are betting the ranch on the hope that these polling results are misleading.