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“Trump Pivots To the General Election…By Attacking Women”: The Days Of Women Succumbing To Insults Are Long Over

It has been fascinating to observe pundits who claim that Donald Trump will change his stripes during the general election in a way that appeals to a broader constituency. I’ve always thought that those assumptions were based on the idea that he was simply playing a character during the primaries – much as he did on TV. But that ignores the fact that he has been a narcissistic bully for a very long time.

Now that Trump’s competitors have dropped out of the race and he is the presumptive Republican nominee, the bullying insults to anyone who challenges him have not stopped. Last night in New Mexico, his target was Gov. Susan Martinez – who happens to be the chair of the Republican Governor’s Association, the first Latina governor in the U.S. and the first female governor of New Mexico. But of course, this is what you get from Trump if you refuse to endorse him.

But the Donald wasn’t done.

Martinez was not the only powerful woman that Trump attacked at the rally. He also went after Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has become an outspoken surrogate for Clinton — and one is not afraid to challenge Trump.

During the rally, Trump repeatedly referred to Warren as “Pocahontas,” a reference to the Native American heritage that she claims.

“She is probably the senator that’s doing just about the least in the United States Senate. She’s a total failure,” Trump said. “She said she was an Indian. She said because her cheekbones were high, she was an Indian, that she was Native American. And, you know, we have these surrogates — people like her, total failures.”

The pairing of racial slurs with personal attacks on females who challenge him are a two-fer for the Donald in that he manages to offend pretty much every constituency that isn’t white male. Trump’s ignorance and misogyny are on display when he spews this kind of nonsense and then says that he doesn’t want to lose the votes of women.

“They say I’m setting records with men — it’s so unexciting to me,” Trump said. “I want to set records with women, not with men.”

I suspect that he actually WILL set records with women. He’ll find that the days of women succumbing to insults like this are long over.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 25, 2016

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Women Voters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Toxic Social And Cultural Stew”: Get Ready For A Long, Very Ugly Election Won On The Ground

Yesterday I wrote that the politically obsessed should not pay attention to general election polls right now, because the GOP primary is over while the Democratic one continues. That in turn has given presumptive nominee Trump a consolidating boost, while Sanders supporters still resist supporting Clinton. That phenomenon will dissipate within the month, and Clinton will get her own boost once the last votes are cast.

Still, the latest poll showing Trump leading Clinton by 2 points is instructive not for its toplines, but for the very high negative public perceptions of both candidates. While the topline numbers should change over the next few months in Clinton’s favor, the candidates’ negatives are unlikely to. Compounding this reality is that the public has lower-than-ever perceptions of the news media, which means we’re ripe for a toxic social and cultural stew as we approach the election.

What does this mean going forward? Mostly that the election will be driven in part by core supporters who do like their respective candidates on both sides, but mostly by fear of the other side. Conservative voters who don’t like Trump will have to make a choice whether to trudge to the polls to vote against Clinton, and liberal voters who don’t like Clinton will have to do likewise against Trump. Undecided voters who don’t like either choice will have to decide whether to vote at all.

Pure partisans won’t have any trouble showing up, because that’s what we do. But general elections aren’t won by pure partisans who vote in every election. Nor are they usually won by persuading the very small slice of people who can’t seem to make up their minds between two very different candidates all the way into October.

General elections are won by turning out the people who already agree with you ideologically, but only show up to vote every other election when they really feel inspired to but otherwise feel that politics is a waste of time that doesn’t change anything dramatically affecting their daily lives.

In that sense, the way both sides will try to win is not to convince the disaffected that their candidate will affect dramatic positive changes (though Trump may have some disaffected voters with whom he can make that argument; Clinton’s chance of persuading her own version of the same is somewhat less due to her intentionally incrementalist message), but to scare them into believing that the other candidate will make dramatic negative changes.

In other words, Trump will try to convince apathetic conservatives that Clinton will turn America into a gun-free Venezuelan socialist despotism, while Clinton will try to convince apathetic liberals that Trump will turn America into an unstable, trigger-happy fascist dictatorship. Clinton will use Trump’s lascivious past against him, even as Trump brings up decades of unsavory personal Clinton associations. It’s going to a very nasty affair. The one big advantage Democrats will have is a probable surge in the Latino vote out of genuine self-preservation.

In the meantime, the election will actually be won not in the air, but on the ground. The ugliness on the air will depress turnout even further, which will require campaign organizers to depend on millions of face-to-face conversations with voters on the fence about whether to vote at all.

All of which is to say this: as we approach the general election, those who want to help their candidate win in November should probably spend a lot less time arguing with other people in online forums or obsessing over television ads, and a lot more time making calls and knocking on doors. That’s where this very ugly game is going to be won and lost.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 23, 2016

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Does Bernie Sanders Really Have Working-Class Support?”: Premise Sanders Is The Tribune Of The Working Class Is Full Of Holes

The idea that he’s fighting for an oppressed and dispossessed working class is central to Bernie Sanders’s identity as an old-school New Dealer closely aligned throughout his career with the labor movement and prone to diagnosing all the country’s problems as a product of economic inequality. Class struggle is also central to his critique of the Democratic Party as an institution that has traded its New Deal heritage of working-class solidarity — especially by promoting trade agreements and financial liberalization — for a mess of Wall Street pottage.

Indeed, some political observers have suggested that Sanders and Donald Trump represent parallel wings of a working-class uprising against political and economic elites. And Trump himself is fond of arguing that, if Bernie is denied the Democratic presidential nomination, his working-class supporters might drift over into the Trump column.

This all represents a nice, dramatic “narrative.” But the premise that Sanders is the tribune of the working class is full of very large holes.

One problem is the punditocracy’s habit of conflating “working class” with “white working class.” No one believes Sanders is sweeping the African-American or Latino working class, which matters quite a bit because those are the elements of the working class that are tangibly part of the Democratic electoral base.

But even within the “white working class,” Sanders’s support levels have been exaggerated by a failure to look at some crosscutting variables, as explained at Vox by Jeff Stein:

Because young voters also tend to have lower incomes, the massive age gap between Sanders and Clinton has sometimes looked to observers like a gap in economic class, according to political scientists Matt Grossmann and Alan Abramowitz.

But the most salient divide in the primary is not between rich and poor. It’s between young and old — and between white and black.

I’d interject here that an income-based definition of “working class” has always been problematic because earnings vary so much with age; a young college grad destined for the upper class may temporarily make less than a seasoned union member engaged in manual labor. It’s one reason most analysts use an educational definition for working class as people who do not have a college education (there’s a whole separate argument about how to classify people with “some” as opposed to no college, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole). But even an educational standard is problematic to some extent because college students don’t have a degree any more than their proletarian cousins.

As Stein shows, however, by any definition, class quickly fades as a factor in likelihood to feel the Bern as opposed to age:

If Sanders’s “white working-class” voters aren’t just college students, you’d also expect him to be doing better among downscale middle-aged white voters than rich ones.

But this turned out not to be true: Low-income white people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s did not break for Sanders. There was little difference in support by income among older voters, with higher-income older white voters actually more likely to support Sanders, according to Grossmann’s Michigan data.

“My main concern is that the image of Bernie-supporting older poor people who’ve lost their factory jobs to trade is not supported,” Grossmann says. “I’m least supportive of the idea that there’s a population of white, older workers who lost their jobs and are now supporting Sanders. There’s very little evidence of that.”

Similarly, Abramowitz ran a multivariate analysis to help figure out this question. Abramowitz looked at a large survey data set and asked: What forms of identity actually predict support for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton?

“It was age, and beyond that nothing mattered. Maybe ideology mattered a little bit,” he said. Income was not a factor.

Now, maybe none of this matters and Sanders’s youth appeal indicates he’s winning the fight for the future of the party even if his claim to represent decades of working-class grievances against capitalism isn’t so clear. But at a minimum, a proper understanding of Bernie’s base should reduce fears that his following is transferable to Trump. To put it more sharply, the idea that the actual working-class voters Sanders claims to represent view Clinton as the devil isn’t borne out by the numbers. According to Andrew Levison, who’s conducted the most intensive analysis I’ve seen of the appeal of various candidates to the white working class, Sanders isn’t running that far ahead of Clinton in this demographic to begin with. And of course, if you add in the black and brown working class, any Sanders advantage disappears entirely.

Having said all this, there’s nothing wrong with a candidate’s appeal being based on age rather than class; best I can tell, no candidate has ever run up the kind of numbers among young voters in a competitive presidential nominating contest that Sanders is regularly achieving this year. It’s an impressive accomplishment with obviously large implications for the future Democratic Party. But it’s not a tale of workers rising together to shake off their chains.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 20, 2016

May 23, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, White Working Class, Working Class | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Consolidating The Same Old GOP Vote”: Is Trump Leading An Intra-Party Coup Rather Than A Political Realignment?

If you want to make a case that Donald Trump can win the presidency in November without huge “black swan” events like another 9/11 or Great Recession, and you don’t buy dumb polls suggesting Trump’s actually very popular among Latinos, then you are driven to one of two intersecting theories. The first is the famous “missing white voters” hypothesis, which suggests that Mitt Romney left millions of votes on the table in 2012, and Trump’s just the guy to bring these voters to the polls. And the second is the theory beloved of some Democratic lefties that as a “populist” Trump’s going to win former Democratic, white, working-class voters alienated by Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street ties.

Politico has, however, done some number-crunching from the GOP primaries and concluded (tentatively, at least) that Trump’s base of support backs neither of the theories of an expanding GOP:

While Trump’s insurgent candidacy has spurred record-setting Republican primary turnout in state after state, the early statistics show that the vast majority of those voters aren’t actually new to voting or to the Republican Party, but rather they are reliable past voters in general elections. They are only casting ballots in a Republican primary for the first time.

If that’s true, then what the Trump candidacy represents is not some realigning event that could change our understanding of the general-election landscape, but simply an intra-party coup that overthrew the dominance of the business-as-usual and conservative-movement Establishments without necessarily adding to the total number of people prepared to vote Republican in November.

Now even if you don’t believe Trump is God’s gift to Democratic GOTV efforts, it’s pretty safe to say he places a cap on the GOP share of minority voters. So at best the general-election polls showing a tightening Trump-Clinton race may be about as good as it gets for the mogul, showing that he’s consolidating the same old GOP vote without materially adding to it.

On the other hand, the Politico analysis could be wrong. But it helps expose the tenuous reasoning behind Trump-can-win scenarios that rely on hoary ideas about hidden majorities and transpartisan “populist” winds that blow up the existing party coalitions. If the typical Trump supporter is someone who has voted for GOP presidential candidates monotonously since the Reagan Administration without necessarily buying into the party’s economic orthodoxy, then that should be terrifying to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but not so much to Democrats.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 17, 2016

May 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Voters, Populism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Net Neutrality”: To Remain Neutral In A Trump-Clinton Contest Is To Declare That One’s Conscience Has Been Compromised

Is there a more miserable figure than the man or woman who says they will abstain from voting for either Hillary Clinton or Deranged Donnie on November 8?

It’s difficult to have any respect for those (such as Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and former George W. Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner) who seem to view Trump and Clinton as equally repulsive. It’s odd that these folks would choose to advertise their cowardice rather than take their responsibilities as citizens seriously.

Let’s be honest: when one says they cannot choose between Trump and Clinton, they are saying, in effect, that Trump is only disgusting, not dangerous, and that they will not actively try to resist his rise. To remain neutral in a Trump-Clinton contest is to declare that one’s conscience has been compromised.

It is illogical and immoral to remain neutral in the face of Trump’s racism, sexism and xenophobia. It is illogical and immoral to remain neutral in the face of Trump’s irrationality and incompetence. It is illogical and immoral to remain neutral in the face of Trump’s threat to American civility and decency.

The decision to remain neutral in a Trump-Clinton contest is one that can only be made from a position of racial and economic privilege. The African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and disadvantaged Americans of all colors who would be beaten down by Trump’s policies don’t have the luxury of remaining neutral. Do the folks who say they will sit on the sidelines in a Trump-Clinton matchup realize how crucial the outcome of this election will be for America’s shunned and stigmatized?

Rush (the band, not the wingnut radio host) got it right 36 years ago in the song “Freewill”: If you choose not to decide/you still have made a choice. By embracing neutrality instead of resistance in the face of Trump’s extremism, those who plan to abstain from voting in the presidential election have chosen to sanction such extremism.

Do these abstainers have children and grandchildren? Do they not care about the behavior those children and grandchildren will witness in the White House over the next four to eight years? Presidents set a moral tone, and when they behave in an immoral fashion, children learn that such behavior is good, that one can get away with the most atrocious of actions. Ask yourself: What kind of moral example did Ronald Reagan set with Iran-Contra? What kind of moral example did George W. Bush set with his lies about WMD? And what kind of moral example would Deranged Donnie set for our children and grandchildren over the course of the next four to eight years?

Much has been made of Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 “Confessions of a Republican” ad and how it could apply to today’s election. Let us not forget the key line in that ad:

I’ve thought about just not voting in this election, just staying home — but you can’t do that, because that’s saying you don’t care who wins, and I do care.

The folks who say they will remain neutral in the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are saying they don’t care who wins, that they don’t give a damn about the destruction Trump could bring about as President, that they really do think Clinton is as immoral and irrational and intolerant as Trump. If you know anyone like this in your personal life, don’t cut off communication with them. In fact, you only need to say three words to them:

“Shame on you.”

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 15, 2016

May 16, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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