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The Cash Ceiling$
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Nicholas Carnes

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691182001

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691182001.001.0001

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The Conventional Wisdom (is Wrong)

The Conventional Wisdom (is Wrong)

(p.28) 2 The Conventional Wisdom (is Wrong)
The Cash Ceiling

Nicholas Carnes

Princeton University Press

This chapter has two aims. The first is to do what the proponents of the conventional wisdom about workers never do, namely, test their ideas using actual data on U.S. politics. The second is to begin answering this book's larger research question: Why are working-class people virtually absent from American political institutions? The chapter begins by identifying the stage in the candidate entry process that screens working-class people out. Along the way, it also tests two common ideas about the underrepresentation of workers, namely, that workers seldom hold office because they are not fit to govern and because voters prefer affluent candidates. The chapter shows that these ideas do not hold water: workers are not underrepresented in public office because they are less qualified or because voters dislike them, they are underrepresented because they just do not run in the first place.

Keywords:   working-class Americans, political candidate, U.S. elections, political representation, American workers, underrepresentation

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