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From The Tnr Archives: The Emerging Democratic Majority

The August 5, 2002 cover story by John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira has never seemed more relevant than today. Excerpting from their book of the same name, Judis and Teixeira debunk the Republican-majority philosophy of Karl Rove, who seemed near-infallible at the time. The authors lay out their case for the Democratic majority they foresee in American politics, explaining with stunning accuracy the whys and hows of Democrats' coming rise to power. Here is just one of their predictions:

The most surprising component of the emerging Democratic majority is professionals. Professionals are highly skilled, white-collar workers, typically with a college education, who produce ideas and services. They include academics, architects, engineers, scientists, computer analysts, lawyers, physicians, registered nurses, teachers, social workers, therapists, fashion designers, interior decorators, graphic artists, writers, editors, and actors. In the 1950s they made up about 7 percent of the workforce. But as the United States has moved away from a blue-collar, industrial economy toward a postindustrial one that produces ideas and services, the professional class has expanded. Today it constitutes more than 15 percent of the workforce.

As the professional class has grown, its politics have shifted. Typically self-employed or working for small firms, professionals once saw themselves as proof of the virtues of laissez-faire capitalism. They disdained unions and opposed the New Deal and "big government." In the 1960 presidential election, professionals supported Nixon over Kennedy 61 percent to 38 percent. Since then, however, their views have changed dramatically. In the last four presidential elections, professionals have supported the Democratic candidate by an average of 52 percent to 40 percent. Meanwhile, counties disproportionately populated by professionals--such as New Jersey's Bergen County, the Philadelphia suburb of Montgomery County, and California's Santa Clara County--have gone from Republican to Democratic.

Read the whole story for more on Judis and Teixeira's 2002 roadmap to the Democratic majority now realized. More than just a set of especially prescient theories, it explains how we got from Karl Rove's America to Barack Obama's.

--Max Fisher