This paper investigates the effect of class-based identity appeals in presidential campaign speeches on voters’ subjective class-based identities and attitudes toward economic policies. Many scholars argue that the relevance of class is declining in contemporary American politics; however, I maintain that class persists as an influencing identity in American political behavior. I argue that recent presidential candidates make more appeals to class-based identities due to the heightened salience of economic inequality in America. Relying on Social Identity Theory, from research in political psychology, I find that more voters who receive a middle class-based identity appeal identified with the middle class, felt a stronger association with the middle class, and favored economic policies that benefited the middle class, compared to those those who did not receive the middle class appeal; however, these results were not statistically significant. Furthermore, an additional analysis finds statistically significant support that middle class identifiers are more sensitive to class-based identity appeals.


Bos, Angie


Political Science


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



© Copyright 2016 Lois Kimmel