Older white voters with little education beyond high school, under enormous economic stress, the Disaffecteds surged to the Republican Party early in Mr. Obama’s first term. But they were as cynical about business as they were about government. They viewed immigrants as a burden and an economic threat. They opposed free trade more than any other group in the country.
Some conservative intellectuals warned that the party was headed for trouble. Republicans had become too identified with big business and the wealthy — their donor class. They urged Republican lawmakers to embrace policies that could have a more direct impact on pay and economic prospects for these voters: wage subsidies, relocation aid to the long-term unemployed, even targeted infrastructure spending. But much of the party’s agenda remained frozen.
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