Consider a simple model of voter behavior:

People vote for whoever respects them more.

My immediate reaction: This Respect Motive is a roughly accurate description of over half the electorate.  Furthermore, it’s hard to name any socially recognized group whose members do not usually vote for whoever respects that group more.

Example: Consider this analysis of the demographics of the last U.S. presidential election.  Romney got a majority of the following:

  • Whites in general
  • People with income>$50k
  • Whites under 30
  • White women
  • Independents

Obama got a majority of the following:

  • Non-whites
  • People with income<$50k
  • Non-whites under 30
  • Non-white women

In terms of objective material well-being, it’s unclear whether Romney or Obama would be better for any of these groups.  In terms of respect, though, the difference seems pretty obvious.  At least to me.

This doesn’t mean that Romney is racist, or that Obama hates the rich.  My claim, rather, is simply that Romney doesn’t respect non-whites as much as Obama does, and Obama doesn’t respect the rich as much as Romney does.

Got any counter-examples?  I’m listening.