Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department


Reader 1

Professor Pitney

Reader 2

Lily Geismer

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Rights Information

© 2014 Nicholas Herzeca


This thesis explains how the Hard Hat Riot provides a link between two of the most significant developments in postwar American history: the decline of the white working-class and the rise of the Reagan Democrat. The Hard Hat Riot was the culmination of two decades of local demographic and economic transformations as well as five years of political neglect that marginalized New York City’s white working-class. The influence of the riot, however, extended beyond the city’s five boroughs. The Hard Hat Riot prompted Richard Nixon’s administration to develop a blue-collar strategy for the 1972 election. Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaigns in 1980 and 1984 emulated Nixon’s plan to successfully court the white working-class voters who would be later called Reagan Democrats.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.