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“A Triple-Loaded Statistic”: Are Trump Supporters Angry Enough To Vote?

When you consider that the rise and shockingly persistent presence of Donald Trump as a Republican presidential candidate was one of the two or three most important political news stories of 2015, it’s amazing how long it’s taking to get a firm grip on the kind of people who have lifted him to the top of so many polls. Polls that did not examine the educational levels of respondents managed to miss Trump’s special appeal to the non-college-educated (a.k.a. white working class), and led to persistent claims that he’s the candidate of “moderates.” Other polls have excluded significant numbers of Trump fans from their samples because those people have not regularly participated in Republican primaries and caucuses in the past. Putative Trump voters have been compared to the Wallace voters of the 1960s and 1970s and the Perot voters of 1992. A clear fix on them is elusive.

But today the New York Times‘ estimable analyst Nate Cohn offers a new profile of Trump supporters based on data supplied by Civis Analytics, a Democratic firm that has conducted a large number of interviews with self-identified Republicans and Republican-leaners during the period of Trump’s ascendancy.

To understand what Cohn has found, however, you have to look past the headline I suspect editors imposed on him: “Donald Trump’s Strongest Supporter: A Certain Kind of Democrat.” In the second paragraph, Cohn does indeed report: “His very best voters omic Polityare self-identified Republicans who nonetheless are registered as Democrats.” But you have to read far, far down into the piece to understand the limited meaning of that startling data point:

Registered Democrats make up just 8 percent of self-identified Republicans in the states with party registration, according to the Civis data. And Mr. Trump still leads, and leads comfortably, among higher-turnout voters and registered Republicans.

So the headline is based on a triple-loaded statistic: Exclude states with no party registration (e.g., much of the South), and focus only on the small minority of self-identified Republicans who are registered as Democrats, and Trump does better (43 percent) than he does among self-identified Republicans who are registered Republican (again, only in states with party registration), who give him 29 percent of his support. The natural inference from the headline — that Trump supporters are typically Democrats — is neither asserted by Cohn nor supported by the Civis data.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what do we actually learn about Trump supporters? Cohn says they are “less affluent” and “less educated,” which we already knew; this is almost certainly why they have not internalized the economic policy views of GOP elites. The first thing of considerable interest Cohn adds is that they tend to be concentrated in the South and middle Atlantic states, in contrast to Perot voters, who were most numerous in New England and the West.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, December 31, 2015

 

January 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, White Working Class | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Doubling Down On W”: Determined To Take What Didn’t Work From 2001 To 2008 And Do It Again, In A More Extreme Form

2015 was, of course, the year of Donald Trump, whose rise has inspired horror among establishment Republicans and, let’s face it, glee — call it Trumpenfreude — among many Democrats. But Trumpism has in one way worked to the G.O.P. establishment’s advantage: it has distracted pundits and the press from the hard right turn even conventional Republican candidates have taken, a turn whose radicalism would have seemed implausible not long ago.

After all, you might have expected the debacle of George W. Bush’s presidency — a debacle not just for the nation, but for the Republican Party, which saw Democrats both take the White House and achieve some major parts of their agenda — to inspire some reconsideration of W-type policies. What we’ve seen instead is a doubling down, a determination to take whatever didn’t work from 2001 to 2008 and do it again, in a more extreme form.

Start with the example that’s easiest to quantify, tax cuts.

Big tax cuts tilted toward the wealthy were the Bush administration’s signature domestic policy. They were sold at the time as fiscally responsible, a matter of giving back part of the budget surplus America was running when W took office. (Alan Greenspan infamously argued that tax cuts were needed to avoid paying off federal debt too fast.) Since then, however, over-the-top warnings about the evils of debt and deficits have become a routine part of Republican rhetoric; and even conservatives occasionally admit that soaring inequality is a problem.

Moreover, it’s harder than ever to claim that tax cuts are the key to prosperity. At this point the private sector has added more than twice as many jobs under President Obama as it did over the corresponding period under W, a period that doesn’t include the Great Recession.

You might think, then, that Bush-style tax cuts would be out of favor. In fact, however, establishment candidates like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are proposing much bigger tax cuts than W ever did. And independent analysis of Jeb’s proposal shows that it’s even more tilted toward the wealthy than anything his brother did.

What about other economic policies? The Bush administration’s determination to dismantle any restraints on banks — at one staged event, a top official used a chain saw on stacks of regulations — looks remarkably bad in retrospect. But conservatives have bought into the thoroughly debunked narrative that government somehow caused the Great Recession, and all of the Republican candidates have declared their determination to repeal Dodd-Frank, the fairly modest set of regulations imposed after the financial crisis.

The only real move away from W-era economic ideology has been on monetary policy, and it has been a move toward right-wing fantasyland. True, Ted Cruz is alone among the top contenders in calling explicitly for a return to the gold standard — you could say that he wants to Cruzify mankind upon a cross of gold. (Sorry.) But where the Bush administration once endorsed “aggressive monetary policy” to fight recessions, these days hostility toward the Fed’s efforts to help the economy is G.O.P. orthodoxy, even though the right’s warnings about imminent inflation have been wrong again and again.

Last but not least, there’s foreign policy. You might have imagined that the story of the Iraq war, where we were not, in fact, welcomed as liberators, where a vast expenditure of blood and treasure left the Middle East less stable than before, would inspire some caution about military force as the policy of first resort. Yet swagger-and-bomb posturing is more or less universal among the leading candidates. And let’s not forget that back when Jeb Bush was considered the front-runner, he assembled a foreign-policy team literally dominated by the architects of debacle in Iraq.

The point is that while the mainstream contenders may have better manners than Mr. Trump or the widely loathed Mr. Cruz, when you get to substance it becomes clear that all of them are frighteningly radical, and that none of them seem to have learned anything from past disasters.

Why does this matter? Right now conventional wisdom, as captured by the bookies and the betting markets, suggests even or better-than-even odds that Mr. Trump or Mr. Cruz will be the nominee, in which case everyone will be aware of the candidate’s extremism. But there’s still a substantial chance that the outsiders will falter and someone less obviously out there — probably Mr. Rubio — will end up on top.

And if this happens, it will be important to realize that not being Donald Trump doesn’t make someone a moderate, or even halfway reasonable. The truth is that there are no moderates in the Republican primary, and being reasonable appears to be a disqualifying characteristic for anyone seeking the party’s nod.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, December 29, 2015

December 31, 2015 Posted by | 2015, George W Bush, GOP | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Eradicate The Inequality And Anger”: If You Want To Beat Donald Trump, You Have To Do More Than Call Him A Fascist

The American political establishment, from the Democratic Party elite to their Republican counterparts, have discovered something alarming. There is now wide agreement that Donald Trump is a gigantic bigot and at least a quasi-fascist. He has been described as such by many ideologically diverse politicians and commentators, from the liberal Martin O’Malley to the conservative Max Boot.

And it hasn’t dented his support at all. On the contrary, Trump has surged ever higher in the polls.

As Matt Yglesias argues, Trumpism is the natural result of conservative political strategy. Republicans refuse to accept immigration reform — even though it could potentially help them make inroads among Latinos. They have also long refused to promulgate any economic policy that isn’t preposterously slanted towards the rich. Their only political road left is turning out lower-class whites — a not insignificant number of whom are outright racists — with rank race- and Muslim-baiting. As Ta-Nehisi Coates once wrote, race hustling — “profiting from their most backward impulses…stoking and then leeching off of their hate” — has a long history in American politics. As Greg Sargent points out, the rest of the GOP field, and particularly Ted Cruz, is only slightly behind Trump in anti-Islam fear-mongering.

Trump is obliterating the GOP brand among Latinos. Other minority groups who might have a natural affinity for conservative policy — ironically, including American Muslims, who are generally well-off and broke for Bush in 2000 — will be repelled by the perception that the GOP is the party of racists. Any such damage to the Republican image will be extremely hard to undo, so there will be continual temptation to go all in on the politics of racism.

Demonstrating the bigotry of Trumpism is a worthy and necessary task. Condemning Trump as the rebirth of Mussolini (as I have done), or attacking his supporters as unpatriotic, is worthwhile. But it’s not enough.

It’s time for liberals to start thinking about what to do against a political opponent that openly subscribes to bigotry. It’s time to start building anti-fascist political institutions. I fear that calling Trump a fascist will make no dent at all in the Trump phenomenon. Left-leaning Americans need to start thinking about building the brute political muscle to beat him.

What does that mean? Namely, that only a broad-based political movement, aimed at providing jobs and economic security for every American of every race, can permanently defeat what Trump represents.

That means politically activating the people who are the recipients of Democratic policy but do not vote (particularly the poor). One of the most devastating lines I’ve heard in American politics comes from a Republican political advisor in Kentucky: “People on Medicaid don’t vote.” That is part of why Matt Bevin was able to cruise to easy victory in that state after having promised to snatch health insurance from hundreds of thousands of people.

Unions should take the lead. Organizing is flaring up in food and service industries, contributing to small policy successes such as a $15 minimum wage at the city level. A small fraction of VW workers at a Chattanooga plant recently got union representation — the first United Auto Workers victory at any foreign-operated firm. Further organizing is desperately needed, and Democrats who know what’s good for them should immediately pass pro-union legislation such as card check or a repeal of Taft-Hartley the second they get a chance.

Churches also play an underrated role in left-leaning politics. Though regular church attendance is generally correlated with more conservative politics, fully 40 percent of people who attend church weekly still voted Democratic in 2004 (and 49 percent of white Catholics). As Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig points out, the teachings of Jesus Christ are highly amenable to a left-leaning interpretation.

Other parties could also be built up, particularly in insanely corrupt blue states like Illinois or New Jersey. The sad truth is that the Democrats — the party of Andrew Cuomo, Hillary Clinton, and Rahm Emanuel — are not a particularly great vehicle for the sort of policy that would actually benefit unions or the poor. The Working Families Party has had limited success shifting the balance of power in New York politics; more could be done.

Other experiments, such as Jacobin‘s reading group network, or perhaps a revitalization of tired online organizational models from the Bush years, ought to be tried or expanded.

Inequality in America is enormous. For the first time since the ’60s, at least a majority of Americans are not in the middle class. This is another way of saying that society has largely ceased to function for great swathes of the population. That, I believe, is a big root cause behind the rise of Trumpism. Anger and hatred — powerful political motivators indeed — fester under such conditions. To beat Trump, we can’t just call him a fascist. We have to build the movement and institutions that will eradicate the inequality and anger in which fascism thrives.

 

By: Ryan Cooper, The Week, December 11, 2015

December 16, 2015 Posted by | Democrats, Donald Trump, Economic Inequality | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Rubio’s ‘Pioneer’ Boasts Crumble Under Scrutiny”: In Living Up To His Own Hype, Rubio Has A Lot Of Work To Do

When Marco Rubio recently spoke to the Jewish Republican Coalition’s presidential forum, he joined all of his GOP rivals in saying nice things about Israel. But the Florida Republican went a little further than most, making a specific claim about his state legislative record. The Tampa Bay Times took a closer look.

“As Speaker of the Florida House,” he said, “I pioneered what became a national effort by requiring the Florida pension program to divest from companies linked to Iran’s terrorist regime.”

It was groundbreaking, but Rubio had nothing to do with creation of the legislation.

There was, in fact, a divestment bill that passed Florida’s legislature, but it was written by a Democrat before passing unanimously. Rubio, as the Republican leader in the House, allowed the bill to come to the floor, but he didn’t “pioneer” the policy. He doesn’t appear to have had anything to do with its creation at all.

Whether the Florida Republican was trying to deceive his audience or whether Rubio simply exaggerated the story in his mind is unclear. But errors like these are emblematic of two problems that represent a distraction for the senator’s presidential campaign.

The first is that Rubio, despite his background as a career politician – he won his sixth election the year he turned 40 – has no real accomplishments to his name. This creates an awkward dynamic in which the GOP lawmaker struggles to brag about his own record, and in the case of the Jewish Republican Coalition’s event, it apparently led him to embellish that record with an accomplishment that was not his own.

The second problem is that this is not the first time Rubio delivered a speech in which he flubbed substantive details in a brazenly misleading way. The week before his “pioneering” fib, for example, Rubio misled an audience about the scope of U.S. surveillance powers.

Around the same time, he misstated his record on “killing Obamacare” and misstated some key details about national security. A month prior, Rubio was caught making claims about his economic plan that were simply untrue.

I don’t know whether this is the result of sloppiness, laziness, or a deliberate attempt to mislead, but Rubio wants to be perceived as some kind of wonky expert who not only speaks the truth, but also understands policy matters in great detail.

If he’s going to start living up to his own hype, Rubio has a lot of work to do.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 14, 2015

December 15, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Jewish Republicans Coalition, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Failure To Fact Check”: The Real Problem With The CNBC Debate Was The Moderators’ Inability To Call Out The GOP’s Nonsense

Big applause lines: “lamestream media,” a la Sarah Palin, or “Democrats who have the ultimate super PAC, it’s called the mainstream media,” a la Rubio. When in doubt, bash the media.

And it didn’t take long before the Republican National Committee blasted out a press statement that because of the CNBC debate, it was ready to cancel the party’s upcoming NBC debate. Over the weekend, the various campaigns met to “set the rules” about future debates.

Now let me get this straight: the Republicans get 24 million viewers on Fox, 23 million viewers on CNN and 14 million viewers on CNBC – up against the second game of the World Series – and they are complaining? Trump bragged about how he and Ben Carson changed the rules of the CNBC debate by threatening to pull out. Maybe this group would like to determine not only who asks the questions but what the questions are?

But make no mistake, it plays to their base to bash journalists and it also serves to intimidate the media. Sad but true.

If there was a fault with CNBC it was that the moderators were not tough enough on this crowd of candidates. They raised questions that were answered falsely or not at all and did not hold the candidates’ feet to the fire. There simply weren’t enough follow up questions. Whether they were intimidated or did not have the full research in front of them is hard to say, but they should have pushed harder.

Some examples: Cruz would not answer the question about his opposition to the debt limit and instead used his time to attack moderator Carl Quintanilla. Finally, Cruz shot back: “You don’t want to hear the answer.” It reminded me of the great scene in “A Few Good Men” when Jack Nicholson loses it on the stand and shouts, “You can’t handle the truth!”

Cruz should be forced to compare his position on raising the debt limit to Ronald Reagan’s and to that of every other president who understood what it would do to the country if we were to default.

Becky Quick asked Donald Trump about his criticism of Mark Zuckerberg for urging an increase in visas and Trump shot back that it was false. She backed off, but in fact it was true. Trump’s claim got a “Pants on Fire” from Politifact.

Carly Fiorina made the outrageous statement that 92 percent of jobs lost during President Barack Obama’s first term were women’s jobs. Politifact rated that false, and noted that the number of women with jobs actually increased by 416,000.

Ben Carson said it was “total propaganda” to assert he was involved with the disgraced nutritional supplement company, Mannatech, and the anchors had the evidence but, again, did not push back. Politifact also rated Carson’s statements false.

Probably the most important debate should have been on the various tax plans from the candidates. The New York Times editorialized against them,citing the absurdity of the 10 percent and 15 percent flat tax proposals. The effect of the Republicans’ economic policy is the same old trickle down with the biggest tax benefits going to the wealthy who, lord knows, don’t need it. As the Times’ editorial made clear none of the Republicans “has a tax plan coherent enough to be the basis of a substantive discussion, let alone one that could meet the nation’s challenges.”

It is the job of the press and, let’s face it, the Democrats, to point out that this crew of emperors has no clothes.

With all their bashing of the media and the attempt to use it to mobilize their base, it became clear that the Republicans simply did not have the answers. Pollyanish predictions of astronomical economic growth was all they could offer.

The candidates complained afterwards that there wasn’t enough time to talk about substance. Baloney. They simply don’t want hard questions. The most destructive result of all the back and forth after the CNBC debate, complete with the Fox Business Channel attacking CNBC in paid ads, would be if the Republicans intimidate the press and control the format and the questions. After all, this isn’t Russia, the last time I looked.

 

By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, November 2, 2015

November 3, 2015 Posted by | CNBC Debate, GOP Primary Debates, Media | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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