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March 17, 2005
Investing in Realignment

In a recent Opinion Journal column, pollster John Zogby presents intriguing stats on the election pattern of the so-called "investor class." The participants were asked two questions "Do you consider yourself to be a member of the investor class" and "Who did you vote for?" According to Zogby, self-identified investors comprised 46% of the total vote in November 2004, and 61% of those individuals voted for President Bush.

The "investors" Zogby refers to does not simply mean day traders on Wall Street, rather the term includes individuals who are simply saving money for retirement or a college education for their offspring. Zogby therefore predicts that regardless of whether the president wins regarding Social Security reform, his vision of an "ownership society" could spark a significant realignment in favor of the GOP. He concludes:

To the president and Republicans: You may lose the battle over Social Security personal accounts, but ultimately you may very well win the war over party realignment. To the Democrats: Just saying no is not a policy and demographics are not destiny. Ignore the "ownership society" at your own peril.

While it's certainly tempting to think the conservative party can boost its numbers by offering new investment opportunities, i.e. personal accounts, I think we come back to the age old chicken or the egg conundrum. Do people begin to vote Republican because of their investment experiences or are those inclinations to vote Republican present before the voter enters the stock market? I think its the latter. Some people are simply inclined to preserve their resources for the future and believe they can build wealth through their own efforts and careful planning. Others are more inclined to spend their money on the latest fashions and let the government take care of them in their old age. It would be no surprise if they voted according to a similar pattern.

Investors will love personal accounts. They may even love them enough to continue voting Republican. But the mere opportunity to invest will not turn spenders into savers, and its the mental attitude about money that is related to voting. The Democrats can just keep ignoring the ownership society because the spenders arent paying attention either. Its the wishy-washy Republicans who need to get on board and fast.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Whiskey at March 17, 2005 11:37 AM

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