Tag Archives: Political Science

The Trump campaign strategy of targeting ‘poorly educated’ missing white voters

Screenshot-16In 2012, then-Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal urged the GOP to “stop being the stupid party” and end its embrace of “dumbed-down conservatism.”

After winning the Nevada GOP primary in February, Donald Trump said “I love the poorly educated”.

The New York Times today reports on Donald Trump’s Big Bet on Less Educated Whites:

A potential victory for Donald J. Trump may hinge on one important (and large) group of Americans: whites who did not attend college.

Polls have shown a deep division between whites of different education levels and economic circumstances. A lot rides on how large these groups will be on Election Day: All pollsters have their own assessment of who will show up, and their predictions rely on these evaluations.

The largest bloc is whites who have no college degree, and the voting-age population of this group is as large as that of voting-age blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans combined. Mitt Romney won this group over Barack Obama by 26 percentage points, and Ronald Reagan by 31 points in 1984. But Bill Clinton won this bloc of voters both times he ran. In this year’s political polls, this group favors Mr. Trump by large margins over Hillary Clinton.

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Who are the Trump voters?

Donald-Trump-CartoonJust about every pundit has tried to answer the question “Who are these people who support Donald Trump?”

The lazy media villagers reflexively resort to asserting that they are the economically distressed and angry white working class, with the laziest among them even asserting that they include “Reagan Democrats” (all of whom are already dead or barely alive in a nursing home).

Pollsters try to tell us that they are the white working class with less than a high school education and who are politically alienated. Republicans Rocked By Revelation That Trump Supporters Aren’t Registered And Don’t Vote.

There is also the recent book from J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, that is, a crisis in the decline of the white working class culture and values. Review: In ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ a Tough Love Analysis of the Poor Who Back Trump (Economic insecurity, he’s convinced, accounts for only a small part of his community’s problems; the much larger issue is hillbilly culture itself. Though proud of it in many ways, he’s also convinced that it “increasingly encourages social decay instead of counteracting it.”)

Martin Longman at the Political Animal blog takes a look at The Real Trump Voters:

Simon Maloy at Salon does a good job of distilling the new Gallup data on Trump voters. They aren’t exactly who most people think they are. They’re not as economically distressed or negatively impacted by the loss of manufacturing jobs as is widely assumed, and they’re often more suburban than rural. Counterintuitively, “Gallup found that the only candidate who is viewed consistently positively in areas with higher concentrations of manufacturing jobs is… Hillary Clinton.”

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Ornstein and Mann: The anti-government GOP gave rise to Trump

The high priests of Beltway centrism, Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann, wrote in an op-ed at the Washington Post in 2012, Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem, adapted from their book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.

Ornstein and Mann are back with a must read essay for 2016 at Vox.com. The Republicans waged a 3-decade war on government. They got Trump.

Cartoon_18.14Trumpism may have parallels in populist, nativist movements abroad, but it is also the culmination of a proud political party’s steady descent into a deeply destructive and dysfunctional state.

While that descent has been underway for a long time, it has accelerated its pace in recent years. We noted four years ago the dysfunction of the Republican Party, arguing that its obstructionism, anti-intellectualism, and attacks on American institutions were making responsible governance impossible. The rise of Trump completes the script, confirming our thesis in explicit fashion.

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The disappearing ‘swing’ voter

Media villagers like to falsely equate people who are not registered with a political party, whom the media prefers to call “independents,” as being “moderates” and “swing voters.” Nothing is further from the truth, as I have posted the political science research to explain many times over the years. (Yet the media villagers persist).

Anne Kim at the Political Animal Blog has the latest research. The Last Swing Voters in America:

While “Independent” voters now make up the largest share of the electorate, most Independents – as many as 87%, according to the Pew Research Center – “lean” toward one party or another. Moreover, many Independents aren’t centrists – rather, they claim that label because they are further to the right or further to the left than the parties that most closely represent their views.

swinging-406x226The true size of the swing electorate is therefore much smaller than the growth in the number of “independent” voters implies. In fact, says a new survey by the research firm Lincoln Park Strategies, just 4% of the American electorate is truly independent – unaffiliated with a political party and ideologically in the middle.

Note: This is down from previous studies that pegged this number around 7%.

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Donald Trump is not going to be the ‘Great White Hope’ of conservative revanchists

As I have previously explained in The secret to Trump’s success: the GOP is the party of white identity and white grievances:

Donald-Trump-CartoonDonald Trump made the strategic decision to disregard the RNC’s 2012 election “autopsy” report from its Growth and Opportunity Project, which called on the party to be more inclusive towards minorities, especially Latinos, which the RNC said was critical to the future growth of the GOP.

Trump instead has doubled-down on Sean Trende’s thesis of  The Case of the Missing White Voters: that a large portion of the demographic change we saw in the 2012 electorate was not due to increased turnout, but rather a drop in white voter participation. Trende followed up his original story with a second piece in 2013 that suggested these voters were mostly lower-income, blue-collar voters who lived in areas that had also voted for Ross Perot. If the GOP could find a candidate to motivate these voters sufficiently, it could narrow the gap between them and Democrats and offset some of the losses Republicans could suffer due to demographic shifts.

In other words, whites are still the majority in America, and if Donald Trump and his authoritarian crypto-fascist white supporters can take control of the government, they will “Make America Great White Again” and put those minorities back in their place.

This belief that there are enough angry old white people who identify with the GOP and Donald Trump to build an electoral majority from is not supported by the demographic evidence. (This of course assumes that there will not be an equally robust effort to suppress Democratic voter constituencies from voting).

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The secret to Trump’s success: the GOP is the party of white identity and white grievances

I took apart this falsehood, GOP leaders: No place for bigotry in the Republican Party, in yesterday’s post. ‘Super Tuesday’ – the Republican race. It bears repeating:

Donald-Trump-CartoonThis idea that Donald Trump is engaged in a “hostile takeover” of the GOP or has hijacked the party is ludicrous. Trump is winning over a key voter constituency that the GOP has methodically nurtured for decades and fed their fears and prejudices with the conservative media entertainment complex. Trump is just a symptom of the disease. The disease of racism and bigotry has been festering in the GOP’s soul for decades. The day of reckoning has been a long time coming.

Andrew Rosenthal writes at the New York Times, The Myth of Trump-Hating Republicans:

Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, said that if “a person” wants to be the G.O.P. nominee, “they must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on people’s prejudices.”

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, talked about “one of our presidential candidates and his seeming ambivalence about David Duke and the K.K.K.”

“I condemn his comments in a most forceful way,” said Mr. McConnell, speaking in an unforceful way.

The comments by Mr. Ryan and Mr. McConnell had two things in common.

First they misrepresented (I think deliberately) the position of the Republican Party on issues like racism and the politics of division. O.K., maybe an actual former K.K.K. grand wizard is a bit much, but both racism and divisiveness have been at the heart of the G.O.P.’s governing and electoral strategy for many, many decades. George H.W. Bush won the presidency in 1988 with a campaign designed around appealing to racism and fear. Mr. McConnell was fine with Confederate flags flying from government houses in the South until the political pressure to take them down became too intense. The Republicans don’t have a “seeming ambivalence” about this. Some are more than seemingly ambivalent, and some are ready and willing to embrace the forces of racism when expedient. Only a tiny handful truly distance themselves from those dark forces in American politics.

Second, neither Mr. McConnell nor Mr. Ryan actually used the word “Trump.” Mr. Trump is not, fundamentally, objectionable to them.

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