The financial crisis and the fight against President Obama may have overshadowed the Sam's Club Republican agenda. But, even though we're out of money, there are still Sam's Club voters. My friends at the Pew Research Center remind me that their most recent political typology included a group called the "Disaffecteds," who lean Republican while backing government aid to the needy. In fact, 61 percent of Disaffecteds say government should spend money on the poor even if it increases the debt. Bet you haven't seen them on cable!
Disaffecteds are swing voters who were crucial to Republican success in 2010. They tend to be downscale whites who mistrust government but understand the necessity of a safety net. They'll agree with the Republican economic agenda as long as it preserves basic supports for the poor. Over-the-top libertarian appeals send these voters running for Democrats.
American Enterprise Institute vice president Henry Olsen has written extensively on the white working-class desire for an opportunity society that includes a robust safety net. The candidate who can connect with these Reagan Democrats will be well placed to win the presidency in 2012.