I'm a big fan of pollster Scott Rasmussen but hoped for a clearer definition of what he calls the "political class". Today the Wall Street Journal , in an article about him, reveals the answer to my question:
To figure out where people are, he asks three questions: Whose judgment do you trust more: that of the American people or America's political leaders? Has the federal government become its own special interest group? Do government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors? Those who identify with the government on two or more questions are defined as the political class.
Before the financial crisis of late 2008, about a tenth of Americans fell into the political class, while some 53% were classified as in the mainstream public. The rest fell somewhere in the middle. Now the percentage of people identifying with the political class has clearly declined into single digits, while those in the mainstream public have grown slightly. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents all agree with the mainstream view on Mr. Rasmussen's three questions. "The major division in this country is no longer between parties but between political elites and the people," Mr. Rasmussen says.
His recent polls show huge gaps between the two groups. While 67% of the political class believes the U.S. is moving in the right direction, a full 84% of mainstream voters believe the nation is moving in the wrong one. The political class overwhelmingly supported the bailouts of the financial and auto industries, the health-care bill, and the Justice Department's decision to sue Arizona over its new immigration law. Those in the mainstream public just as intensely opposed those moves.