Seth Moskowitz in Persuasion:
Democrats were once the party of the working class. From the New Deal era through the mid-1960s, clear majorities of working-class whites and black voters of all economic strata threw their support behind Democrats.
But the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 marked the end of that tenuous cross-racial coalition. Furious and full of racial resentment, white working-class voters fled the Democratic Party into the open arms of Richard Nixon and the Republican Party. That exodus continued as Democrats made room in their coalition for the era’s counterculture and progressive social movements dedicated to civil rights, feminism, environmentalism, and ending the Vietnam War. Some of these voters did return to the party when the “Boy Governor” from Arkansas, Bill Clinton, led the Democratic ticket, but that resurgence was short-lived.
In the last decade, the Democratic Party’s struggle with working-class voters has become more acute than ever.