Last week the Pew Research Center released a study on the politics of financial insecurity. It’s not good news for Democrats. (More)

Squirrels invented investing. We know which trees produce nuts and seeds at what times of year, and diversify our larders to maintain a balanced diet year-round.

Still, I’m not sure where most squirrels would place in the Pew Research Center’s study on financial insecurity:

Throughout this report we utilize a scale composed of 10 indicators measured on the Pew Research Center American Trends Panel to gauge financial status. Three dimensions of financial circumstances were used to create the scale – financial assets, financial troubles and government means-tested programs.

The Pew survey first asked about financial instruments: whether people had savings, checking, and retirement accounts, and a credit card. Those questions scored 0 for each “yes” and 1 for each “no.” They next asked about financial difficulties: whether, in the past year, people had trouble paying for health care, rent or mortgage, other bills, borrowed from family members, or received SNAP or Medicaid benefits. Those questions scored 1 for each “yes” and 0 for each “no.” Total scores ranged from zero (“most secure”) to 10 (“least secure”):

That scale correlates to family income, but it’s not an exact match. A family with an income of $25,000, few bills, and no illnesses in the past year might score better than a family with an income of $80,000 whose medical bills maxed their out-of-pocket costs, especially if the wealthier family were living beyond their means. Still, half of the “most secure” families had incomes of at least $75,000 per year, while three-quarters of the “least secure” families had incomes under $30,000 per year:

The “least secure” were half as likely to be working full-time as the “most secure,” twice as likely to be working part-time, twice as likely to be working two or more jobs, and four times as likely to be disabled. Over half of the “least secure” were people of color, 57% were divorced, widowed, or never married, 62% were women, 63% had only a high school education, and 67% were under age 50:

Perhaps not surprisingly, Pew’s financial insecurity scale correlated strongly to how people view the social safety net:

The “least secure” were also less likely to trust business and more likely to trust government:

But the “least secure” were barely half as likely to be registered to vote, less than half as likely to know which parties controlled the U.S. House and Senate, and only one-third as likely to vote in 2014 or to contact their elected leaders:

And the partisan split was even more telling:

Oh … and about those working class whites:

The “least secure” whites favored Democrats over Republicans by a 16-point margin, the only quintile among whites to do so.

But too few of the “least secure” voted, while almost all of the “most secure” did … and that difference will make the next two years feel like a long winter.


Good day and good nuts