Carnes points out that, although millionaires make up only 3 percent of the population, they "have a majority in the House of Representatives, a filibuster-proof super-majority in the Senate, a 5 to 4 majority on the Supreme Court and a man in the White House." At the same time, working class people -- whom he defines as "people with manual-labor and service-industry jobs" -- make up more than half of the population, yet people from working class backgrounds have never held more than 2 percent of the seats in Congress.
You might suspect that a legislator's class background would not independently affect the policies she supports -- that, once you control for other factors like political party and constituents' views, the impact of class would disappear. But this is not the case; as Carnes writes, "even after controlling for these factors using a variety of statistical techniques, there are still significant differences between politicians from different classes."
Looking at roll-call data in Congress, Carnes discovered that:
Like ordinary Americans, legislators who worked primarily in white-collar jobs before getting elected to Congress — especially profit-oriented jobs in the private sector — tend to vote with business interests far more often than legislators who worked primarily in blue-collar jobs.Moreover, Congress is hardly the only government institution where class matters. Carnes also found that:
At every level of government, in every time period and in every stage of the legislative process, the shortage of lawmakers from the working class tilts economic policy in favor of the conservative outcomes that more affluent Americans prefer.