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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

   

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