Patrick Ruffini is a Republican pollster with a reputation for deciphering data and spotting trends. His new book, “Party of the People: Inside the Multiracial Populist Coalition Remaking the GOP,” takes a deep dive into one of the biggest political realignments of our lifetime.
Ruffini spoke with The Daily Signal about the demographic changes that are rapidly transforming America’s two biggest political parties—and what it means for the 2024 presidential election and beyond.
“When I first started in politics, Republicans had this reputation as being the country club party,” Ruffini said. “Democrats had this reputation as being the party of the people, the party of the working class.”
He added, “Flash forward almost 20 years, and that trend has completely almost reversed.”
Recent election results show the GOP’s gains with working-class voters were not an aberration or confined to one candidate. Republicans today are increasing their support among non-college voters—the type of working-class Americans who once loyally supported Democrats.
“The parties used to be defined by income and now they’re defined by education,” Ruffini said. “I argue that that’s good news for Republicans in the sense that you have many more working-class, non-college voters in the country than you have college-educated voters.”
The breakdown for 2024, according to Ruffini, is about 60% non-college voters compared to 40% who have college degrees. This, he surmises, will provide the GOP will an advantage in upcoming elections. Factor in Republican gains with Hispanics and black voters, and you have a different GOP than the one of yesterday.
Most surprising to Ruffini, however, is how the political alignment happened.
“I did not expect Donald Trump to be the one who was able to pull this off, but my credit goes to him for getting us to this point,” Ruffini said.
“The fact that he was able to expand the Republican coalition first to include the Rust Belt states and dramatically expand Republican performance among working-class voters in 2016, and then in 2020, almost defying the odds and winning re-election with the help of more Hispanic voters and continued progress among black voters,” he added. “It really has upended what we think the two parties are about.”
Ruffini began writing “Party of the People” after observing the trends of the 2020 election, and he hopes it serves a helpful guide for readers to understand the realignment.