The General Social Survey is often cumbersome to obtain income data from (the baseline income categories top out at $25,000, which was more useful in 1974 than today), but it’s interesting how, among white respondents who claim to have grown up with “Above average or Far above average” incomes (How would you describe your family’s income when you were 16?) and to have currently above or far above average family incomes, the percentage who identify as Democrats has risen quite steadily and the percentage who identify as Republicans has fallen even faster.
This appears to be something of a real ideological shift among people who think of themselves as well-off: the percentage of this group who believe they pay “too much” in taxes has mostly declined over this period (or perhaps they are in fact simply paying less in taxes), with some rebound in 1996 and 2012 (perhaps because people believe themselves to be paying more in taxes in Democratic administrations, whether or not that is the case.)
It may be that how you think of how you grew up captures an increasing portion of ideology (ie, if you think of yourself as “making it” on your own abilities rather than benefiting from inherited privileges), but it’s interesting that this is so much more the case recently than in 1984.
As of 2012, Andrew Gelman notedthat actual incomes continued to predict voting Republican fairly well,so the patterns in the GSS may be more about how individuals think about whether they are well off than their actual level of income.