Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: Don’t Call Me Middle Class: I’m a Professional!

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
Published May 14, 2009

Not long ago, everyone in America wanted to be a member of the “middle class.” In fact, as many as 53% of Americans described themselves that way to pollsters.

But with the information age and the rise of two-career incomes, being just middle class is a little old hat. The new aspiration for most Americans is to be a member of the new professional class. Rising numbers — as high as 64% — report that they consider themselves “professionals.” The census shows a significant rise over the years, from 4% being professionals and skilled workers in 1910, to 36% today. The numbers have doubled since just 1980.

These new professionals, whose incomes were rising steadily until the financial crisis, have been at the heart of reshaping the country’s economic and political life. Barack Obama more than any other president represents this shift and has uniquely appealed to these Americans. Everyone today wants to be a professional and most people believe they are.

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Mark Penn discusses Microtrends and politics with fellow alumni and editors at the annual Harvard Crimson lunch


Mark Penn recalled his days at the Harvard Crimson newspaper, and spoke about current microtrends and macrotrends on the rise, including the increased confidence in the political process and the media’s transition from print to screen. In communication, Mark also noted the power of television events to drive online action and the increased coverage of personality and psyche over policies and issues. Mark also took questions from the audience about the 2008 election, the strategies of the current administration and the Republican leadership.
Listen to the podcast now at the Audio Pod Chronicles

Read Mark’s articles from his days as City Editor of the Harvard Crimson

Statement about Mark Penn from President Bill Clinton

“Mark did a fine job for me in 1995 and 1996, during the government shutdown and my re-election campaign.

He also helped the Democrats win House seats in 1998, when we were badly outspent and pundits predicted losses of 25 to 35 seats. The last time the President’s party won House seats in the sixth year of his presidency was 1822.

He was a great help to Hillary in 2000 and 2006.

In 2008, his polling was accurate and advice was helpful even though the campaign didn’t prevail. As President Kennedy said, victory has a thousand fathers and defeat is an orphan.

I remain grateful for his hard work and loyalty.”

–President Bill Clinton, April 15, 2009

Politico: Most affluent voters key to Obama sweep


Published November 11, 2008

Barack Obama promised he would lower taxes for 95 percent of Americans and presumably raise them for the 5 percent who benefited most under President Bush’s tax policies. But, remarkably, the most affluent 5 percent supported Obama and that was perhaps the key to his victory last week.

This group — and the rise of a new elite class of voters — is at the heart of the fast-paced changes in demographics affecting the political, sociological and economic landscape of the country. While there has been some inflation over the past 12 years, the exit poll demographics show that the fastest growing group of voters in America has been those making over $100,000 a year in income. In 1996, only 9 percent of the electorate said their family income was that high. Last week it had grown to 26 percent — more than one in four voters. And those making over $75,000 are up to 15 percent from 9 percent. Put another way, more than 40 percent of those voting earned over $75,000, making this the highest-income electorate in history.

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Politico: Young moderates – A fragile coalition


Published October 28, 2008

This election promises to offer a fundamental realignment that could stand for decades to come as young moderate voters become the driving force for change in the presidential race. These more socially tolerant, opportunity-oriented voters are the ones likely to put Barack Obama in the White House next week.

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Mark Penn Participates in Time Warner’s Politics 2008 Summit

Mark Penn Participates in Time Warner's Politics Summit 2008

Mark Penn participates in panel entitled “Media Power Vs. Political Power: The 2008 Election Re-defining the Relationship” alongside senior correspondents from the major news outlets, as part of Time Warner’s Politics 2008 Summit: The Media Conference for the Election of the President. To view the video, please visit the Digital Hollywood Time Warner Summit Conference page.

Politico: Obama has advantage on economy


Published September 29, 2008

The financial crisis has redefined the presidential race, bringing into stark relief the candidate who can deal with the complexities of the global markets and return the country to prosperity over the next four years.

The race is no longer about change, experience, Iraq, tax cuts or universal health care. The job posting has been fundamentally altered.

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Politico: Candidates must come out swinging


Published September 24, 2008

The two prep teams for the presidential debates are moving into high gear, readying their candidates for the ring, knowing the stakes are probably the highest since the Kennedy-Nixon face-offs played a decisive role in the 1960 election.

The winner of Friday’s presidential debate could be the candidate who beats expectations and thereby causes another jump ball in this volatile election.

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Politico: So goes the nation: New electoral map


Published September 17, 2008

The outcome of the 2008 election will, like the last two presidential campaigns, come down to a small number of voters in a few places. Yet those votes will be affected by big, overarching events such as the emergence of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, the economic crisis and the upcoming presidential debates.

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Politico: Penn on who won at conventions


Published September 9, 2008

Here’s my post-convention take on the most important questions likely to decide the general election.

Who won the conventions? No one — or everyone — won. The post-convention polls suggest that the party gatherings did not fundamentally change the race — this is going to go right down to the wire, and debates will be key. Nearly 55 million people voted in the primaries, and nearly 40 million watched the key speeches at both conventions. Voters are interested, listening and undecided.

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