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“The Power Of Sisterhood”: Trump, Clinton Could Post Record Numbers With Opposite Corners Of White America

The stereotypical Donald Trump voter is a non-college-educated white man. Hillary Clinton’s base of support is much more diverse, but in terms of general election swing voters, her stereotypical voter is probably a professional white woman. Stereotypes are always over-generalizations and are sometimes misleading. But depending on how the general election develops, the impressive strength of the major-party candidates among downscale white men and upscale white women could prove to be the key match-up.

Veteran journalist Ron Brownstein looked at the internals of some recent general election polls and found that adding gender to education levels among white voters produced a shocking gap between the two candidates.

In early polling, the class inversion between Clinton and Trump is scaling unprecedented heights. In the national CBS/NYT poll, Trump led Clinton by 27 percentage points among non-college-educated white men, while she led him by 17 points among college-educated white women, according to figures provided by CBS. The ABC/Washington Post survey recorded an even greater contrast: it gave Trump a staggering 62-point advantage among non-college-educated white men and Clinton a 24-point lead among college-educated white women. State surveys reinforce the pattern. In the Pennsylvania Quinnipiac survey, Trump led among non-college-educated white men by 43 points, but trailed by 23 among college-educated white women. In Quinnipiac’s latest Ohio survey, Clinton’s vote among college-educated white women was 20 points higher than her showing among blue-collar white men.

Brownstein argues that each candidate is reaching or in some cases exceeding the all-time records for their party in these demographics — which means the gap could be larger than ever, too. What makes the trade-off potentially acceptable to Democrats is that college-educated white women are a growing part of the electorate while non-college-educated white men have been steadily declining for decades. What gives Republicans some hope is the theory that blue-collar white men, who are usually somewhat marginal voters, will turn out at record levels for Trump. Sean Trende, the primary author of the “missing white voters” hypothesis explaining a big part of Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss, thinks Trump is a good fit for these voters despite his weaknesses elsewhere in the electorate.

To be very clear: even though these two opposite corners of the white vote are significant, in the end a vote is a vote and there are many dynamics that could matter more. Most notably, if Hillary Clinton can reassemble the “Obama coalition” of young and minority voters with the same percentages and turnout numbers as the president did in 2012 or (even more) 2008, she has a big margin for error among all categories of older white voters. And within the universe of white voters, racial polarization could give Trump a higher share of college-educated voters than currently appears likely, while Democrats have high hopes of doing very well among non-college-educated white women by hammering away at the mogul on both economic and gender issues.

In the end, Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections and have a coalition that is growing while that of the GOP is shrinking. They also have a nominee who, for all her problems, raises far fewer worries among both swing and base voters than does the Republican.  Trump’s carefree attitude about who he offends could be more problematic in a general than in a primary election, and his disdain for the technological tools necessary to carefully target voters could prove to be a strategic handicap.

If the election does come down to a contest between women and men of any race or level of educational achievement, a Clinton victory would be not only historic, but a demonstration of the power of sisterhood against an opponent who’s a cartoon-character representation of The Man.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 30, 2016

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Everyday Is A Whining Road”: The Moral Difference Between An Imperfect Democrat And A Dangerous Republican

Is the Hillary Clinton campaign prepared for the possibility that Bernie Sanders may never actually concede?

Even if Clinton wins big in the New Jersey Democratic primary on June 7 and thus reaches 2,383 delegates* (regardless of the outcome in the California primary that night), it’s difficult to see him throwing in the towel prior to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, where he has already signaled that he will petition superdelegates to hand the nomination over to him, on the grounds that he is (in theory, anyway) a stronger general-election candidate than Clinton. The dream of unity between Clinton and Sanders after the conclusion of the primaries is unlikely to ever come true: the visceral hatred that Sanders so obviously feels for Clinton is simply not going to dissipate.

As the old joke goes, even Stevie Wonder can see that Sanders is going to have an epic meltdown at the convention if superdelegates reject his request for the nomination. The behavior of Sanders, his campaign staff, and some of his supporters is profoundly disappointing to those who wanted Sanders to play a constructive and healthy role in defining the post-Obama Democratic Party. During the 2008 Democratic primary, Clinton may have said a few undiplomatic words about Obama in the final days of her campaign, but it never seemed as though Clinton personally loathed the future president. Things are much different this time around.

I was disturbed watching Sanders’s interview on CNN’s State of the Union last weekend; Sanders seemed to be filled with a dark rage, an intense bitterness, a scornful tone. Sanders came across as a man who believes he is morally entitled to the Democratic nomination, who looks down upon those who think Clinton would be the party’s best representative, whose soul is now filled with palpable jealousy and contempt for Clinton.

Like Kevin Drum, I have to ask: what happened to Sanders? Why didn’t he remain positive? Why didn’t he and his campaign understand that putting Clinton down wouldn’t raise him up?

Clinton and the Democratic Party should be quite concerned about the prospect of a disastrous convention, disrupted by Sanders supporters upset over their hero not getting what they believe he was entitled to. (Just because chairs weren’t thrown the last time around doesn’t mean they won’t be thrown the next time.) If Sanders speaks at the convention and begins to make disparaging and disrespectful remarks about Clinton, current Democratic National Committee head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or the allegedly villainous members of the Democratic “establishment,” will convention organizers feel compelled to cut his microphone?

It’s sad to see Sanders fall into the same intellectual abyss that the progressive radio host Sam Seder fell into three years ago, during the special election to fill the seat left vacant by the passing of New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg–the intellectual abyss that prevents one from recognizing the moral difference between a imperfect Democrat and a dangerous Republican. Who would have thought that when Sanders announced his presidential bid last year, he would become the biggest cautionary tale in American politics?

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 28, 2016

May 30, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Trump’s Delusions Of Competence”: Running A National Economy Is Nothing Like Running A Business

In general, you shouldn’t pay much attention to polls at this point, especially with Republicans unifying around Donald Trump while Bernie Sanders hasn’t conceded the inevitable. Still, I was struck by several recent polls showing Mr. Trump favored over Hillary Clinton on the question of who can best manage the economy.

This is pretty remarkable given the incoherence and wild irresponsibility of Mr. Trump’s policy pronouncements. Granted, most voters probably don’t know anything about that, in part thanks to substance-free news coverage. But if voters don’t know anything about Mr. Trump’s policies, why their favorable impression of his economic management skills?

The answer, I suspect, is that voters see Mr. Trump as a hugely successful businessman, and they believe that business success translates into economic expertise. They are, however, probably wrong about the first, and definitely wrong about the second: Even genuinely brilliant businesspeople are often clueless about economic policy.

An aside: In part this is surely a partisan thing. Over the years, polls have generally, although not universally, shown Republicans trusted over Democrats to manage the economy, even though the economy has consistently performed better under Democratic presidents. But Republicans are much better at promoting legends — for example, by constantly hyping economic and jobs growth under Ronald Reagan, even though the Reagan record was easily surpassed under Bill Clinton.

Back to Mr. Trump: One of the many peculiar things about his run for the White House is that it rests heavily on his claims of being a masterful businessman, yet it’s far from clear how good he really is at the “art of the deal.” Independent estimates suggest that he’s much less wealthy than he says he is, and probably has much lower income than he claims to have, too. But since he has broken with all precedents by refusing to release his tax returns, it’s impossible to resolve such disputes. (And maybe that’s why he won’t release those returns.)

Remember, too, that Mr. Trump is a clear case of someone born on third base who imagines that he hit a triple: He inherited a fortune, and it’s far from clear that he has expanded that fortune any more than he would have if he had simply parked the money in an index fund.

But leave questions about whether Mr. Trump is the business genius he claims to be on one side. Does business success carry with it the knowledge and instincts needed to make good economic policy? No, it doesn’t.

True, the historical record isn’t much of a guide, since only one modern president had a previous successful career in business. And maybe Herbert Hoover was an outlier.

But while we haven’t had many business leaders in the White House, we do know what kind of advice prominent businessmen give on economic policy. And it’s often startlingly bad, for two reasons. One is that wealthy, powerful people sometimes don’t know what they don’t know — and who’s going to tell them? The other is that a country is nothing like a corporation, and running a national economy is nothing like running a business.

Here’s a specific, and relevant, example of the difference. Last fall, the now-presumed Republican nominee declared: “Our wages are too high. We have to compete with other countries.” Then, as has happened often in this campaign, Mr. Trump denied that he had said what he had, in fact, said — straight talker, my toupee. But never mind.

The truth is that wage cuts are the last thing America needs right now: We sell most of what we produce to ourselves, and wage cuts would hurt domestic sales by reducing purchasing power and increasing the burden of private-sector debt. Lower wages probably wouldn’t even help the fraction of the U.S. economy that competes internationally, since they would normally lead to a stronger dollar, negating any competitive advantage.

The point, however, is that these feedback effects from wage cuts aren’t the sort of things even very smart business leaders need to take into account to run their companies. Businesses sell stuff to other people; they don’t need to worry about the effect of their cost-cutting measures on demand for their products. Managing national economic policy, on the other hand, is all about the feedback.

I’m not saying that business success is inherently disqualifying when it comes to policy making. A tycoon who has enough humility to realize that he doesn’t already know all the answers, and is willing to listen to other people even when they contradict him, could do fine as an economic manager. But does this describe anyone currently running for president?

The truth is that the idea that Donald Trump, of all people, knows how to run the U.S. economy is ludicrous. But will voters ever recognize that truth?

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, May 27, 2016

May 30, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Economic Policy, Economy | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Character Of Our Content”: The Nexus Of Politics And Race That Drives The Right’s Opprobrium Towards Obama

Where, exactly, did people get the idea that President Obama was supposed to end racism?

In a rather curious piece, conservative syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker scrutinized Obama’s May 7 commencement address at Howard University and apparently wasn’t too impressed:

At a recent commencement address at historically black Howard University, Obama noted that his election did not, in fact, create a post-racial society. “I don’t know who was propagating that notion. That was not mine,” he said.

This remark stopped me for a moment because, well, didn’t he? Wasn’t he The One we’d been waiting for? Wasn’t Obama the quintessential biracial figure who would put racial differences in a lockbox for all time?

This was the narrative, to be sure. But, if not Obama’s, then whose?

In retrospect, it was mine, yours, ours. White people, especially in the media, created this narrative because we loved and needed it. Psychologists call it projection. We made Obama into the image of the right sort of fellow. He was, as Shelby Steele wrote in 2008, a “bargainer,” who promised white people to “never presume that you are racist if you will not hold my race against me.”

Obama wasn’t so much the agent of change as he was the embodiment of a post-racial America as whites imagined it.

But Obama’s message, beginning with his 2004 address to the Democratic National Convention in Boston, has always suggested that he would be at least a messenger of unity, which sounded an awful lot like post-racial. “There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America,” he said.

I’ve previously noted that there was a fair bit of nonsense in that 2004 Obama speech. However, that speech did not, by any reasonable standard, imply that Obama would be a “post-racial” leader, and anyone, Parker included, who heard a “post-racial” subtext in the message must have had some strange music playing in the background.

Parker appears to be blaming Obama for her mistaken interpretation of that 2004 speech:

That many interpreted Obama’s message as post-racial made some kind of sense. The divide between red and blue states may be seen as also splitting along racial lines in some cases.

Eight years after being elected as the first black president of a majority-white nation, Obama is shrugging off any responsibility for having contributed to the post-racial expectation. Is this because, racially, things actually seem worse? But what if they weren’t? What if there had been no “Black Lives Matter” movement, no Trayvon Martin, no Freddie Gray, or any of the others who were killed by police in the past few years, or, in Martin’s case, by a vigilante?

I’m guessing he’d have grabbed that narrative in a bear hug and given it a great, big, sloppy kiss. His remarks to a graduating class, instead of disavowing that silly post-racial thing, would have celebrated his greatest achievement — the healing of America.

It’s interesting that Parker says “The divide between red and blue states may be seen as also splitting along racial lines in some cases” because, in the Shelby Steele op-ed she quotes, the right-wing African-American pundit scornfully observes:

On the level of public policy, [Obama] was quite unremarkable. His economics were the redistributive axioms of old-fashioned Keynesianism; his social thought was recycled Great Society.

Had Obama been a right-wing Republican (instead of, as former Reagan advisor Bruce Bartlett has argued, a Democrat who is “essentially…what used to be called a liberal Republican before all such people disappeared from the GOP”), both Steele and Parker would be hailing him as a man who had healed all of America’s historic wounds, who had indisputably united the country across the lines of class and race, who had honored the legacy of Lincoln. The remarks of Parker and Steele are repulsive because they reveal the nexus of politics and race that has always driven the right’s opprobrium towards Obama.

If you’re old enough to remember the Reagan-era promotion of right-wing African-American figures such as Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Walter E. Williams and Alan Keyes (Steele didn’t become a major name on the right until the George H. W. Bush years), you’ll remember that right-wing white commentators would constantly push the idea that Thomas, Sowell, Williams and Keyes were the “real” voices of the African-American community, as opposed to, say, Jesse Jackson. The right’s rhetoric about the so-called “Democratic plantation” is an offshoot of this sort of thinking: right-wingers really do believe that where it not for chicanery on the part of Democrats, the vast majority of African-Americans would be on the Republican team.

The folks who promoted this narrative about right-wing African-Americans being the only “authentic” voices in the African-American community never got over the fact that Barack Obama discredited their arguments. They cannot stand the fact that the first African-American President is a Democrat; had Obama shared the Thomas/Sowell/Williams/Keyes vision of the world, right-wing whites would have defended him just as ferociously as they have attacked him since the late-2000s.

Parker assumes her readers are stupid. She doesn’t think her audience fully understands that she would be glorifying Obama as a healer and hero if his politics were closer to hers. Her column is one of the year’s most deceitful to date

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 29, 2016

May 30, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Kathleen Parker, Post Racial Society | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Self Declared Spokesman For Blacks”: Why Did Bernie Sanders Put An Obama-Hater On The Democratic Platform Committee?

The liberal case against Hillary Clinton rests in large part upon her associations — people she surrounds herself with and whose judgment she relies upon. She has caught an enormous amount of flak, some of it fair, for her ties to figures in the finance industry or advisers with morally questionable worldviews. By the same token, what should we make of Bernie Sanders’s decision to appoint Cornel West as one of his advisers to the Democratic Party’s platform committee?

West, of course, has socialist views largely in line with Sanders’s own. But West also has a particular critique of the sitting Democratic president that goes well beyond Sanders’s expressions of disappointment. West’s position is not merely that Obama has not gone far enough, but that he has made life worse for African-Americans:

On the empirical or lived level of Black experience, Black people have suffered more in this age than in the recent past. Empirical indices of infant mortality rates, mass incarceration rates, mass unemployment and dramatic declines in household wealth reveal this sad reality. How do we account for this irony? It goes far beyond the individual figure of President Obama himself, though he is complicit; he is a symptom, not a primary cause. Although he is a symbol for some of either a postracial condition or incredible Black progress, his presidency conceals the escalating levels of social misery in poor and Black America.

This is actually not empirical. African-American infant mortality has declined, not increased, during Obama’s presidency:

The African-American unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since 2008. The African-American uninsured rate has fallen by more than half, and the administration has undertaken a wide range of liberalizing reforms to the criminal-justice system. The notion that Obama has made life worse for African-Americans rests entirely on affixing the blame for the 2008 economic collapse on him, without giving him any credit for the wide-ranging measures to alleviate it, or the recovery that has ensued. This is, in other words, the Republican Party’s method of measuring Obama’s record, and it’s the sort of grossly unfair cherry-picking that no good faith critic would use.

West does not merely lament the alleged worsening of conditions for African-Americans that he claims Obama has caused. He has a theory for it:

“I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men,” West says. “It’s understandable. As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he’s always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white. He is just as human as I am, but that is his cultural formation. When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening. And that’s true for a white brother. When you get a white brother who meets a free, independent black man, they got to be mature to really embrace fully what the brother is saying to them. It’s a tension, given the history. It can be overcome. Obama, coming out of Kansas influence, white, loving grandparents, coming out of Hawaii and Indonesia, when he meets these independent black folk who have a history of slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow and so on, he is very apprehensive. He has a certain rootlessness, a deracination. It is understandable.

“He feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want.”

West’s theory is essentially the mirror image of the notion, peddled by Dinesh D’Souza and Newt Gingrich, that Obama absorbed a racial ideology from one of his parents. For Obama’s unhinged right-wing critics, that parent is his father. For West, it is his mother. The racial biases he inherited allegedly define his worldview and turn him into a tool of racial bias — for black people, in the right-wing version, and against them, in West’s. Then you have West’s dismay at Obama’s excessive comfort with wealthy Jews, which he portrays as the result more than the cause of Obama’s lack of interest in helping African-Americans.

The Sanders revolution means that, rather than a full-throated celebration of Obama’s record akin to the treatment Ronald Reagan received at the 1988 Republican convention, the party’s message will include the perspective of one of the president’s avowed haters. Of course, Sanders himself has not said these things, and perhaps he is rewarding West for his campaign service. But if you are celebrating the changes Sanders is bringing about to the Democratic Party, you are celebrating the replacement of one cohort of advisers and activists with another. Sanders’s revolution means giving West’s views more legitimacy and influence in Democratic politics.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 24, 2016

May 30, 2016 Posted by | African Americans, Bernie Sanders, Financial Crisis | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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