In Richistan, I wrote about a new political divide emerging among the wealthy. While most Lower Richistaniâ€™s ($1 million to $10 million in net worth) were voting Republican, most Middle-and Upper Richistanis (those worth $10 million plus and $100 million plus) were voting Democrat.
Lower Richistanis tended to vote almost exclusively based on taxes. But Upper Richistanis placed a higher priority on longer-term societal issues like health care, the environment and education, which are traditional Democrat issues. Some say Upper Richistanis can afford to minimize taxes, since they have plenty of money even after the government takes its share. Others say the ultra-rich have better tax attorneys so they donâ€™t care as much about tax rates.
Yet a new survey shows that the Richistan split is not only alive and well, but it may even be growing.
According to a new survey by Prince & Associates, voters worth $1 million to $10 million are favoring Sen. John McCain, while voters worth $30 million or more are favoring Sen. Barack Obama. The survey of 493 families showed:
More than three quarters of those worth $1 million to $10 million plan to vote for Sen. McCain. Only 15% plan to vote for Sen. Obama (the rest are undecided). Of those worth more than $30 million, two-thirds support Sen. Obama, while one third support Sen. McCain.
The reason? Taxes.
Among Lower Richistaniâ€™s, 88% cited tax policies as being â€œimportantâ€ in making their decision. Only 11% cited the environment, 22% cited health care and 45% cited social issues.
Among the Upper Richistaniâ€™s supporting Sen. Obama, tax policies ranked last, with only 16% citing them as important. â€œSocial issuesâ€ ranked first, with â€œpolicies dealing with warsâ€ ranking second (67%) and Supreme Court nominations and health-care issues ranking next.
Of course, in todayâ€™s populist politics, the only thing worse than being the candidate of the wealthy is being the candidate of the superwealthy. You can bet this is one poll that neither candidate will repeat on the campaign trail.
But the survey offers an important insight into the effect of wealth on personal politics. Perhaps the old saying should be changed to: If youâ€™re ultrawealthy and conservative you have no heart; if youâ€™re wealthy and liberal, you have no brain.