Leftists often claim that low income Republicans “vote against their interests.” It is assumed by them that “interests” means only economic interests, sometimes they explicitly use the phrase “economic interests.” And it is assumed that this is irrational behavior.
If low income republicans are harmed by the social safety net being cut, I’d say they are also harmed by many policies championed by Democrats such as mass immigration, affirmative action, and strict zoning laws.
However, even if you assumed as these liberals do that low income Republicans would benefit from Leftist economic policies, that does not prove that their “interests” are better served by the Democrats because the interests of a population are not exclusively economic.
Low income Republicans are typically religious. It is in their interests to have a culture that is not hostile to their religion and their religious values, as modern day Hollywood culture is. It is in their interests not to have populations of immigrants or Blacks, who do not share their moral values, moved into their communities. If the schools were to promote Christianity by having prayer in school, this would be in their interests as religious Christians want their children to follow in their footsteps.
If you are a liberal, imagine the population of most of your town is removed and replaced by poor, White, religious “rednecks” from Alabama. And a committee of evangelical preachers was established with the power to censor movies and television they don’t like. And most of the colleges were taken over by religious movements and promoted religious values. Prayer began again in public schools. Your income doesn’t change. Your house, your car, all your material possessions are still there. Yet you would strongly feel that it is not in your interests for that to happen.
This is not to say that it is in the interests of low income Republicans to vote as they do, just that economics is not everything. The Republican party typically does very little to advance conservative positions on social issues when it is in power. They do not retaliate against Hollywood smut peddlers. They do not cut funding to universities which are controlled by liberals and openly promote liberal ideology. They continue mass immigration and affirmative action and look the other way on illegal immigration.
They do this because those who fund the Republican Party are mostly influenced by neoconservative and libertarian ideology, not by the religious Christian or White nationalist ideology that is so much more common among Republican voters. These neocons and libertarians are indifferent at best and hostile at worst to the values and interests of the White, religious Christian base.
Many low income Republicans, however, do not understand this. They see Bush’s Christian faith and fake accent and think he’s one of them, contrasting him to the Democratic elite, who they see correctly as a group utterly alien to them. This is reinforced by the liberal media, which portrays Republican candidates as “extremists.”