An expert religion-and-values pollster tells that working-class whites in the United States, despite being more than one-third of the population, comprise one of the least studied groups.
Robert Jones, founding CEO of Public Religion Research Institute in Washington, D.C., says a new poll, released today, from PRRI shows that working-class whites show significant differences by region and religion, among other factors.

Robert Jones: Skype Interview from EthicsDaily on Vimeo.

White working-class Americans constitute roughly 36 percent of the population, says Jones. The group is also one of the most misunderstood, he says. That fact played into PRRI’s decision to conduct the poll.

“One of the things we wanted to do was to add to this debate, maybe even press reset on this debate, with some real data and hard facts on the ground,” says Jones, adding that too much of the characterization of working-class whites has been based purely on anecdote.

“Heading into the final weeks of the 2012 presidential election, the white working-class vote has been the subject of debate, conflicting claims and speculation,” read an advance release about the poll, which relied on a nationwide telephone survey of roughly 2,500 U.S. adults.

The polling results promise to “provide a comprehensive look at the surprisingly complex group of white working-class Americans,” according to the release. “The study explores a broad set of issues, including problems facing white working-class Americans’ communities, their religious preferences, what stores they prefer, and what news outlets they trust.”

PRRI “is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and education organization dedicated to work at the intersection of religion, values, and public life,” according to its website.

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