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“Mr. Trump’s All-White Nostalgia Movement”: It’s Demographic Panic, Not Economic Panic, That’s Driving His Rise

Donald Trump, sounding something like Bernie Sanders, says he’s building a “movement.”

And in a sense, Trump is right. He is building a movement, of sorts, but not the kind that will help grow the Republican Party.

While Trump has won a record number of primary votes, he hasn’t done that by creating new Republican voters. Instead, he’s pulled GOP general election voters into the primaries by exciting white male voters like few candidates since Ronald Reagan.

That’s why, despite his historically bad numbers with non-white voters—more than three in four Hispanics and nearly nine in ten African-Americans don’t like him—Trump has been closing in on Hillary Clinton in national polls and in statewide surveys too, particularly when the white vote share is bumped up as it was in Quinnipiac’s Ohio and Pennsylvania polls presuming a whiter electorate in those states in 2016 than in 2012.

Trump leads Clinton 52 percent to 36 percent among whites overall in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll; a figure driven by his 11-point lead with seniors, his nine-point advantage with men, and his five-point advantage with independents. And while the latter three figures are not broken down by race, Trump’s terrible ratings with nonwhite voters make it clear what lies beneath the top lines.

With Trump’s campaign, America has arrived at a moment that would be familiar in Europe, where ethno-nationalistic parties have surged in countries like France, Belgium and Austria, particularly as the crisis in Syria has driven Arab refugees onto the continent. In the U.S., the drivers of ethno-nationalism are different, but they are similarly related to the jarring impact of demographic change.

The exit polls from nearly two-dozen Republican primaries have yielded lots of data about who the Trump voters are, and the findings belie the myth that their anger is grounded in economic want. In fact, while they have lower incomes than Republicans who supported candidates like Marco Rubio or John Kasich, Trump voters are far from broke—their $72,000 average household income is will above the American average of is $56,000.

They are, instead, more like the profile of Tea Party voters; mostly 45 years of age and older, middle class, and a mix of non-college and some-college educated men and a smaller number of women who believe the country is dangerously off track.

Robert P. Jones of the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute has done extensive research into the “why” of the Trump rebellion, and it turns out to have more to do with demographic panic than economic panic.

Sixty-eight percent of Trump supporters believe American culture has become too “soft and feminine”; two-thirds say it bugs them when they engage with an immigrant who doesn’t speak English (just 46 percent of Cruz voters said the same), and nearly half worry about themselves or their families becoming victims of a terrorist attack. Nearly six in ten Trump voters believe the federal government has paid too much attention to the plight of black and other nonwhite groups (vs. nearly four in ten Cruz supporters). And Trump voters overwhelmingly support banning Muslims from the U.S., while a plurality believe Islam is incompatible with American values.

According to PRRI, a majority of Trump supporters agree with the statements that America was better off 50 years ago—when white, Christian men were culturally ascendant, before “women’s lib” and the big victories of the Civil Rights Movement, before busing and affirmative action and the liberalizing immigration actions of the federal government in 1965 and 1986.

Jones calls these voters, who are overwhelmingly white Protestant Christians, “nostalgia voters.” They are nostalgic for the America they believe existed before the tumult of the 1960s; when a white working class man could hold down a blue-collar job and take care of his family, with a secure job for life and a wife who stayed at home, kids who could go to an affordable college, and a retirement padded with a decent pension. Because that is not the America non-white Americans knew, they by and large feel more hopeful about the future, grounded in the knowledge that the country has come far enough to elect a black president.

But for nostalgic Trumpians, who a RAND Corporation March survey found express a sense of “personal powerlessness,” more than any other single trait, the future looks bleak indeed.

That’s why it doesn’t matter what outrageous things Trump says or does. His most fervent supporters want someone who looks and sounds like them but who has the charisma and personal economic clout to shake things up on their behalf. They want someone who makes both a series of connected promises (a wall across the southern border that Mexico is somehow forced to pay for, a ban on Muslim migrants, and no more nation building in the Middle East), and a central one: to put people like them back on top, both here and around the world. With “Mr. Trump” in charge, they figure, the world will look at the U.S. with awe and fear again, and in a way; that means the world will look at them that way, too.

The trouble for the GOP is that for all the passion and fervor of the Trump moment, there simply aren’t enough of these voters left in the population for them to easily have their way. Unlike in midterm elections, when voters of color typically opt out, if turnout rates remain as they have over the last 20 years of presidential election cycles, it will be tough for him to grow his “Trump bump” of around 46 percent today, to above the 50 percent threshold.

Especially since white voters are themselves split, with a plurality continuing to side with Democrats on economic and cultural matters, from union support to the minimum wage to a more liberal view of economics, immigration and culture. Trump may well match or even exceed Mitt Romney’s 59 percent white vote share in 2012, but he’ll likely need something more like Ronald Reagan’s never-since-equaled 66 percent in 1984 to overcome what could be an historic deficit with voters of color, who Pew Research estimates will comprise 30 percent of the electorate this year.

If Trump can do that, it will be a revolution indeed.

 

By: Joy-Ann Reid, The Daily Beast, May 24, 2016

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Demographics, Donald Trump, White Male Voters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“His Red-State Wins Matter More Than Hillary’s”: Why Is Bernie Sanders Slamming Southern Democrats?

So what do we make of Bernie Sanders’s continuing habit of denigrating the Democratic voters of the South? He did it Wednesday night on Larry Wilmore’s show, when he said that having early Southern primaries “distorts reality.” And he did it again in the debate, when he dismissed the importance of Clinton’s votes from the South because the region is “the most conservative part of the country.”

Okay. I’m (in)famously on record as saying the Democrats should just forget the South. The argument of that column, admittedly florid rhetoric aside, was that for the purposes of general elections, the Democratic Party shouldn’t even try very hard in the South anymore. The party should of course fight to hold the African American House seats, and there might be occasional opportunities to swipe a seat in a college town. But other than that, for the foreseeable future, the South is gone, I argued, and the Democrats shouldn’t throw good money after bad down there. You can agree or disagree with that, but it is an argument about general elections (I wrote it right after Mary Landrieu lost to Bill Cassidy in a Louisiana Senate race).

Primary elections, however, are completely different animals. Primary elections are about voters within a political party—and sometimes without, in open primaries, which are another debate that we may get to in the future—having their shot at choosing which candidate their party should nominate. There are of course some states that matter more than others. But there aren’t any individual votes that matter more than others, at least among primaries (caucuses don’t usually report individual votes). For Sanders to dismiss Clinton’s Southern votes as distortions of reality is hugely insulting to Democrats from the region.

And to one group of Democrats in particular, who are concentrated in the South and who happen to be the most loyal Democratic voters in the country. I don’t think Sanders has a racist bone in his body, but is there not a certain racial tone-deafness in dismissing the votes of millions of black voters as distortions of reality? This is the one moment, their state’s presidential primary, when these African American voters have a chance to flex some actual political power in the national arena.

And then to write off Clinton’s Southern votes as “conservative” is just a lie intended to fool the gullible. Sure, the South is conservative at general-election time. But at Democratic primary time, it’s pretty darn liberal. It’s blacks and Latinos (where they exist in large numbers) and trial lawyers and college professors and school teachers and social workers and the like. They’re not conservative, any more than the people caucusing for Sanders in Idaho and Oklahoma are conservative, and he knows it.

The topic of Sanders’s own red state wins actually raises another point. He’s won seven states that both he and Clinton would/will lose by at least 15 points in November, and in many cases more like 30: Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, and Alaska, along with the aforementioned two. And he won them in caucuses, not primaries, which nearly everyone agrees are less democratic, less representative of the whole of the voting population.

Now let’s look at Clinton’s red-state wins. She’s won 10 red states: Texas, Arizona, Missouri, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina (I’m calling North Carolina purple, and of course Virginia and Florida and Ohio). Neither she nor Sanders would probably win in these states either, although a Clinton win over Donald Trump seems conceivable in a couple of them.

In any case, yes, they’ve both won states that are unwinnable in the fall. Yet do you hear Clinton going around saying that Sanders’s victories in these states are distortions of reality? I don’t. But Sanders goes around bragging, as he did at the debate, about winning eight of the last nine contests, “many of them by landslide” margins, referring to these very states where he or Clinton would get walloped in the fall, while denouncing her red-state wins as aberrational. What is it about his red states that count—or more to the point, perhaps, what is it about hers that makes them not count?

I try to set a limit on the number of times I use the “imagine if” device, because candidates have different histories, and those histories provide the context for our reactions to the things they do. But here goes. Imagine if the situation were reversed and Sanders had won the Southern states, and it was Clinton dismissing Southern Democratic votes as meaningless. The more sanctimonious among Sanders’s supporters would have tarred and feathered her as a racist weeks ago. Her very reputation among Democrats would likely be in tatters.

I’m not sure what the thinking is in Sanders land. Their collective back is against the wall, and they’re in a high-stress situation. But Sanders and his team—wife Jane, campaign manager Jeff Weaver—have been saying these things repeatedly now, for weeks. I guess it’s part of an electability argument. Even that is wrong—as I noted above, a couple of Clinton’s red states are possibly gettable in the fall, while none of Sanders’s states are. But insulting your own party’s—oh, wait. Ah. Maybe that has something to do with this too. Whatever the reasons—not a good look.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, April 16, 2016

April 17, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Demographics, Red States, The South | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Not The America Of The Future”: GOP A Bridge To 1960, When 90 Percent Of The Population Was White

It’s hardly news to observe that partisan polarization in this country is reinforced by sharp divisions in the demographic composition of the two major parties. But National Journal‘s Ron Brownstein offers one bit of data that dramatizes the issue as well as any I’ve seen:

In 2012, whites ac­coun­ted for about 90 per­cent of both the bal­lots cast in the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial primar­ies and the votes Mitt Rom­ney re­ceived in the gen­er­al elec­tion. The last time whites rep­res­en­ted 90 per­cent of the total Amer­ic­an pop­u­la­tion was 1960.

Think about that. If the Republican Party were a country, it would racially resemble the America of 1960, 55 years ago. Brownstein goes on to argue that Democrats are also out of alignment with today’s demographics — but it most resembles an America of the future, and the not-too-distant future at that.

Eth­nic groups now equal just over 37 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans. But voters of col­or ac­coun­ted for nearly 45 per­cent of Pres­id­ent Obama’s votes in 2012. Eth­nic minor­it­ies likely won’t equal that much of the total pop­u­la­tion for about an­oth­er 15 years.

If one party (whose average age of about 52 means that a sizable minority can actually remember the America of 1960) is composed of people who are both aware of their once-dominant position and of how quickly it is slipping away, is there any reason to be surprised that party is strongly influenced by feelings that the country has taken a wrong turn that must be resisted? And should anyone be shocked that reaction to cultural and demographic change might well begin to compete with free-market economics or universalistic values in shaping the party’s positions and leadership?

I don’t think so. When in response to Bill Clinton’s promise to “build a bridge to the 21st century,” 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole — first elected to Congress in 1960 — described his Republican presidential campaign as “a bridge to an America that only the unknowing call myth,” he ironically hit on his party’s future message.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, January 22, 2016

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Demographics, Ethnic Groups, Minorities | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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