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“Just Aren’t Large Enough Of A Group”: The Bad News For Trump About Under-Engaged White Voters

A big part of the hope and fear partisans have about Donald Trump’s general election prospects is that his atavistic message of resentment toward elites and uppity women and minorities will not only win a big majority of white voters, but will boost white turnout as well. Sean Trende’s famous “missing white voters” hypothesis for one of Mitt Romney’s fatal defects suggests that marginal white voters tend to be the kind of people who voted for Ross Perot in 1992 — a peak year in white turnout. Trende has subsequently confirmed that the same kind of white voters have been turning out for Trump in the GOP primaries. But are there enough of them to make a difference, particularly given Trump’s big problems with minority voters?

At FiveThirtyEight, David Wasserman takes a close look at this question and arrives at an ambivalent conclusion:

The good news for Trump is that nationally, there’s plenty of room for white turnout to improve. If non-Hispanic whites had turned out at the same rate in 2012 that they did in 1992, there would have been 8.8 million additional white voters — far more than Obama’s 5 million-vote margin of victory. But before Democrats panic, here’s the catch, and it’s a doozy for Trump: These “missing” white voters disproportionately live in states that won’t matter in a close presidential race.

Between 1992 and 2012, white turnout dropped from 71 percent to 63 percent in the 38 non-Electoral College battleground states. There were huge double-digit declines in relatively Perot-friendly places such as Alaska, upstate New York and Utah. But in the 12 key battleground states, white turnout dropped more modestly, from 69 percent to 66 percent. There was virtually no white drop-off in Pennsylvania, and white turnout increased in New Hampshire and Virginia.

This makes sense if you think about it for a minute. If the “missing white voters” are basically marginal voters, they’re less likely to bother to vote in states where their votes “don’t count” in the sense of affecting the outcome. Meanwhile, the same voters are more likely to show up at the polls in highly competitive states where their votes do count, and where, moreover, they are the object of all the dark arts of base mobilization.

The bigger problem for Trump, as Wasserman notes, is that it’s by no means clear Trump’s going to win all the votes cast for Mitt Romney, much less add on many millions of marginal white voters in the right places.  He’s got a real problem with college-educated white women, and in some polls isn’t doing all that well with college-educated white men. And that’s aside from the strong possibility that he’s going to do even worse than Romney with minority voters, who in any case are likely to continue to become a larger percentage of the electorate this November.

It all goes to reinforce the most important single insight I can offer to those all caught up in slicing and dicing the electorate: a vote is a vote, and running up the score in one demographic doesn’t mean squat if it’s offset by losses in another, especially in battleground states. And it’s another sign that Trump’s angry non-college-educated white men just aren’t large enough of a group to win the election for him, particularly if turning them out requires the kind of over-the-top borderline-racist-and-sexist histrionics that tend to mobilize the opposition as well.


By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 3, 2016

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, White Male Voters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Bad Luck Bears”: Bernie Sanders; From The Guys Who Brought You George W. Bush

The team that brought you the George W. Bush administration in 2000 has gathered behind a new candidate: Bernie Sanders.

A host of prominent Ralph Nader backers has joined team Sanders in 2016, excited by his message discipline and aggressive fight against the establishment powers that be.

In the Democratic socialist from Vermont, they see a flag-bearer for the same issues while the Democratic establishment views him as a persistent pest who is raking in money by the fistful without a clear and obvious path to the nomination.

And the same way that Nader’s staunchest supporters had no kind words for the eventual nominee then-Vice President Al Gore, some of Sanders’s surrogates are spending their time bashing Hillary Clinton, making it even more difficult for the party faithful to rally around him.

Throughout Nader’s consecutive failed presidential bids, he picked up a cadre of high-profile endorsers ranging from actress Susan Sarandon to academic Cornel West. The rest of the roster backing both men includes actor Danny Glover, former National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro, musicians Ani DiFranco and Bonnie Raitt, country singer Willie Nelson, and Ben Cohen, one of the founders of Ben & Jerry’s, just to name a few.

“There are some pretty obvious parallels,” Oliver Hall, Nader’s lawyer and long-time friend said in an interview with The Daily Beast.

While the players on the bench supporting these candidates are remarkably similar, so far Sanders hasn’t drawn the collective ire of the Democratic Party quite nearly as much as Nader did. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.

After all, many personally blamed Nader for pulling Democratic votes away from Gore in 2000—ushering in Bush.

It’s tough to blame them for being angry. Bush edged out Gore by 537 votes, while Nader—the Green Party candidate—took over 97,000 votes in Florida, which Democrats thought could have tipped the scales in Gore’s favor.

The spoiler effect, a term ascribed to 1992 candidate Ross Perot, was redubbed as “The Nader Effect,” used as shorthand for a candidate that is going nowhere spoiling an election for a like-minded but more viable party nominee.

Nader has been adamant that he is not the one to blame, writing in 2004 on his presidential campaign site, that his voters wouldn’t have swung the election in Gore’s favor.

“In the year 2000, exit polls reported that 25% of my voters would have voted for Bush, 38% would have voted for Gore and the rest would not have voted at all,” he wrote.

The 2000 campaign efforts (some of which were led by his own supporters) to get Nader to drop out fell on deaf ears.

And 16 years later, a much more successful candidate has no interest in cutting his bid short either—despite almost daily urging from the Democratic establishment.

But still, the longer Sanders has stuck around the more he appears to get under Hillary Clinton’s skin.

Now the winner of 14 states, including a surprise victory in Michigan, Sanders is frequently painted as a message candidate spoiling the prospects of an establishment Democrat looking to finally secure the nomination after falling short eight years ago.

His staunch opposition to the Iraq War, something for which Clinton voted, and support for a single-payer healthcare program mirror some of the central tenets of Nader’s campaign.

Hall told The Daily Beast that the similarities between the candidates are apparent and even now he’s still tired of hearing that the latter is the reason Bush won in 2000.

“It’s ridiculous and pathetic,” he said in a phone interview. “If the Democratic Party is a serious organization, they need to tolerate free discussion of ideas.”

He contended that the same people who have accused Nader of indirectly leading the United States into its worst war since Vietnam are the ones imploring people to vote for Hillary Clinton this year.

“When Nader ran as a third party candidate, everybody attacked him,” Hall said. “Now they’re attacking Sanders for running as a Democrat.”

And as Sanders continues to exceed expectations in the primary, currently leading Clinton by a small margin in Wisconsin—the next contest—Hall questioned the former secretary of state’s strength as a candidate.

“How good of a candidate can Hillary Clinton be if she can’t handle debate in the primary election process? That’s the entire purpose of a primary election.”

And his endorsers have taken note.

West, a prominent academic and progressive Democratic stalwart, backed Ralph Nader in 2000 before giving Sanders his blessing in 2015. Once Gore was the nominee, he chastised him for picking Senator Joseph Lieberman as his running mate given his opposition to affirmative action. West referred to it as “an act of disrespect to the black community,” according to a 2000 article in the Chicago Tribune.

Earlier this year, West wrote an op-ed for Politico describing Sanders as being “better for black people” than Clinton.

West has not responded to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.

Sarandon, another Sanders backer who recently drew controversy for suggesting that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump might be ultimately better for the United States than Clinton, was also all in for Nader in the past. She served as the national co-chair for Nader’s steering committee in 2000 and was named as a plaintiff in a lawsuit he filed against the Federal Election Commission which alleged that corporations sponsoring debates could constitute as illegal corporate campaign contributions.

Documentarian Michael Moore also endorsed both candidates. In September 2000, he appeared at a fundraiser upon the Green Party candidate’s behalf, dispelling the idea that Nader was a spoiler in the race.

“A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush?” Moore said at the time. “No, a vote for Gore is a vote for Bush. A vote for Bush is a vote for Bush. A vote for Nader is a political Molotov.”

In 2000, Sanders publicly vouched for Nader himself, while the latter campaigned in Vermont.

“He’s an old-fashioned guy who believes that maybe the ordinary people should be running this country rather than the multinational corporations,” Sanders said introducing Nader at an event, according to an AP story at the time.

Sanders’s national spokesperson Symone Sanders also previously worked as a communications officer for the Ralph Nader-founded organization Public Citizen.

He changed his tune by 2004 though when Nader tried to run again, saying “virtually the entire progressive movement is not going to be supportive of Nader,” according to an AP story.

“We’ve got to come together to defeat George Bush, we have to develop a strong progressive movement to make sure we make the changes in this country that we need,” Sanders said in 2004. “But our main task right now is to defeat Bush and I think Nader’s effort could have some impact in dividing up that vote and that’s a negative thing.”

Nader himself did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast but he has expressed support for Sanders’s candidacy and his ideas.

The animosity between Nader and Gore supporters that bubbled up in the 2000 general election is already stewing in a similar capacity in the 2016 Democratic primary with surrogates like Sarandon and actress Rosario Dawson criticizing Clinton and the big-money interests they contend she stands for.

“Shame on you,” Dawson said referring to Clinton at a recent rally in New York. “I don’t have to vote against someone; I can vote for someone who’s on our side.”

She went on to criticize President Obama at a Harlem town hall days later, suggesting that he wasn’t able to keep up momentum to elicit big turnout in the 2014 midterm elections.

Another Sanders surrogate, rapper Killer Mike, got into similar hot water for quoting activist Jane Elliott’s line in February saying: “A uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States.” Implicit in the remark was not sexism, but rather that gender should not determine who one votes for.

The difference, of course, compared to the fervor around Nader is that these conflicts of opinion are not necessarily going to negatively impact the chances of a Democratic president being in the White House next year.

But from the start, Sanders’s campaign was concerned about appearing like just another Nader.

“The one thing he’s determined not to do is to be another Ralph Nader,” adviser Tad Devine said in April, 2015 as Sanders was preparing to announce his candidacy. “And the only way to avoid doing that is to avoid being a third-party candidate from the left in the general election.”

Time will tell if that promise holds up.


By: Gideon Resnick, The Daily Beast, April 5, 2016

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, George W Bush, Ralph Nader | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It Ain’t Gonna Happen”: No, There Won’t Be A Major Third-Party Candidacy In 2016 — From Bloomberg Or Anyone Else

Let’s face it: we in the media are suckers for any kind of political story that offers something unpredictable. And like clockwork, every four years someone suggests that there might be a viable third-party presidential candidacy in the offing, spurring legions of reporters and commentators to lick their lips in anticipation. At the moment the attention is focused on former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, but there is also discussion of whether conservatives might rally around a third-party candidate if Donald Trump, no true conservative he, becomes the GOP nominee.

I have some bad news: It ain’t gonna happen.

Not only is Bloomberg not going to run, but if Trump wins the Republican nomination, every last prominent Republican will line up behind him like good soldiers.

Let’s start with Bloomberg. Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that he is thinking about running because he’s distressed at the thought of a race between the vulgarian Donald Trump and the socialistic Bernie Sanders. They made it sound like he’s really on his way to a bid:

Mr. Bloomberg, 73, has already taken concrete steps toward a possible campaign, and has indicated to friends and allies that he would be willing to spend at least $1 billion of his fortune on it, according to people briefed on his deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss his plans. He has set a deadline for making a final decision in early March, the latest point at which advisers believe Mr. Bloomberg could enter the race and still qualify to appear as an independent candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.

He has retained a consultant to help him explore getting his name on those ballots, and his aides have done a detailed study of past third-party bids. Mr. Bloomberg commissioned a poll in December to see how he might fare against Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton, and he intends to conduct another round of polling after the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9 to gauge whether there is indeed an opening for him, according to two people familiar with his intentions.

You might read that and say, Holy cow, he’s doing it! But the thing about having $36.5 billion is that you can explore lots of things without being serious about them. Bloomberg has political consultants who work for him, and he can open the paper one morning, decide he’s troubled by today’s news, then pick up the phone and say to one of those consultants, “Write me up a report on what it would take for me to run for president.” Then they go off and do a poll, conduct a little research on ballot access, and put together a “plan” in a couple of weeks. Maybe it costs $100,000 all told to satisfy the boss’s curiosity, but that’s nothing to Bloomberg.

And he’s done it before. Here’s an almost identical article in the New York Times from eight years ago, about how he was laying the groundwork for a third-party run. Practically the only thing that’s different is the date.

You might say, “Hey, nobody thought Trump was going to run, either!” Which is true. But Trump found an opening in one of the two parties, and Bloomberg hasn’t suggested running as a Democrat. While I’m sure Bloomberg thinks he’d be an excellent president, he’s also smart enough to know that unlike in New York, where he could swamp the field with money and circumvent the Democratic Party’s dominance in the city, running a national third-party campaign is a different matter altogether.

It’s no accident that there hasn’t been a successful third-party presidential candidacy in modern American history. The closest anyone came was Teddy Roosevelt’s run in 1912, when he got 27 percent of the vote. In 1992, Ross Perot managed 19 percent of the vote — and zero votes in the Electoral College.

Perot offers us a hint as to why the talk from some Republicans about a third-party run is just that, talk. It has come most notably from Bill Kristol, who has been toying with the idea in public for a couple of months now, on the theory that if Donald Trump is the nominee, true conservatives would simply have to find an ideologically true standard-bearer to promote. Given the horror many conservatives are expressing at the prospect of a Trump nomination, you might be tempted to think they’d sign on to any conservative who decided to run.

But don’t believe it for a second. Are those conservatives heartfelt in their anguish about Trump being the GOP nominee? Absolutely. It’s not just that he’d probably lose, it’s that he obviously has no commitment to their ideals; he’s just saying whatever his current audience wants to hear, and once that audience changes (as in a general election), he’ll say completely different things. And who knows how he’d actually govern.

And yet, if he is the nominee, Republicans will be faced with a choice. They could launch a third-party bid, but that would almost certainly guarantee that the Democratic nominee would win. Republicans long ago convinced themselves that Perot delivered the 1992 election to Bill Clinton (even though the evidence makes clear that Perot took votes equally from Bush and Clinton, who won easily and would have done so with or without Perot in the race), so they’d be extremely skittish about repeating that outcome.

Far more importantly, if they have to choose between supporting their party’s nominee and mounting an almost certainly doomed third-party run, their feelings about Donald Trump will be far less critical than their feelings about the Democratic nominee, who will probably be Hillary Clinton — for whom they’ve nurtured a passionate loathing for two and a half decades now. We live in an era of “negative partisanship,” in which people’s hatred for the other party has become more central to their political identity than their love for their own party. Faced with the imminent possibility of Clinton sitting in the Oval Office, virtually every Republican will race to get behind Trump. Those now writing articles about what a nightmare a Trump nomination would be will be writing articles touting his virtues.

They won’t be dissembling — rather, they’ll just be trying to make the best of a bad situation. Once the point of reference is not a more preferable Republican but Hillary Clinton, Trump will look to them like a hero in the making. So as fun as a three-way presidential race in the fall might be, we in the media won’t be so fortunate. But don’t worry — it’s still going to be an interesting election.


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, January 25, 2016

January 26, 2016 Posted by | 3rd Party Presidential Candidates, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“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

“Why The RNC’s Loyalty Pledge Was A Huge Mistake”: Whether Priebus Knows It Or Not, He’s Been Played, And It’s Going To Hurt

Another day brings another poll with Donald Trump in the lead. According to a new Monmouth University poll of Republicans nationwide released Thursday, the real estate mogul leads the pack with 30 percent of the vote. His next closest competitor, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, takes 18 percent. By contrast, the most mainstream and viable candidates—Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Govs. Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Chris Christie—take 8 percent, 5 percent, 3 percent, 2 percent, and 2 percent respectively, for a combined total of 20 percent support among the five of them.

In other words, the age of Trump is here, it shows no sign of retreat, and Republican leaders are nervous. If Trump becomes the nominee—still unlikely, for the same reasons it’s difficult for Sen. Bernie Sanders to pull a win in the Democratic primary—he’d be an easy target for Democrats, who could blast him for everything from inexperience and temperament, to his nativist rhetoric and unsubtle racism. But a Trump nomination is so unlikely that it’s not the actual nightmare for the Republican Party. The nightmare is a third-party run, where Trump gets himself on the ballot in all 50 states, and siphons white voters from a GOP that needs white turnout to win national elections.

That nightmare is why, on Wednesday, the Republican National Committee privately circulated a “loyalty pledge” to the party’s presidential candidates. “I [name] affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is,” reads the pledge. “I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.” The obvious hope was that Trump would agree, rule out an independent run, and let Republican leaders breathe easy (or at least, more easily).

On Thursday, Trump obliged. He signed the pledge and held a press conference, where he made a verbal commitment to the Republican Party. “I see no circumstances under which I’d tear up that pledge,” he said, adding later that he’s been “treated well” by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and the RNC. He’ll commit to conservative principles, and if he loses, he loses.

On the surface, this is an important victory for Republican leaders. But look carefully, and it’s somewhere between a disaster and a catastrophe. Trump hasn’t just bound himself to the RNC, the RNC has bound itself to Trump and put pressure on other candidates to do the same. Let’s say Rubio wins the primary and becomes the Republican nominee. Thanks to the pledge, he’s linked to Trump, and Democrats can run wild with guilt-by-association. By the end of the campaign, Trump might be the face of the Rubio campaign, as much as the Florida senator himself.

That’s the disaster. The catastrophe is that there’s nothing to hold Trump to the pledge. As soon as it becomes inconvenient, he can break it. And because he’s untethered from the institutions of the Republican Party, Trump has nothing to lose from breaking the pledge. Indeed, anything he gains from signing—the imprimatur of the GOP and commitments from other candidates—is almost irrelevant to his appeal as the “outsider” who understands the world of the “insiders.” The only thing that ties Trump to his word, on this score, is the promise of official “respect.” For a man of Trump’s ego, that’s weak binding.

Consider Ross Perot, whose 1992 run was a challenge to George H.W. Bush, although it didn’t cost him the election. Initially, Perot denied a plan to run. But, on a February episode of Larry King Live, he hedged his refusal. “If voters in all 50 states put me on the ballot—not 48 or 49 states, but all 50—I will agree to run,” he said. Voters came out, and he ran. But by the summer, his campaign was pockmarked by controversy and on the decline. Appearing with Larry King again, he announced his political departure. “I have not gone away,” Perot told King. “But I have concluded that I should not be the candidate.” This lasted for a few short months, at which point, Perot jumped into the race for good. “The volunteers in all 50 states have asked me to run as a candidate for President of the United States,” Perot said in an October speech. “Jim Stockdale, our vice-presidential candidate, and I are honored to accept their request.”

No, Perot didn’t sign a pledge or run in either primary. But that doesn’t make him a different case; the point is that Perot made a promise, and broke it. And why wouldn’t he? He had nothing to lose. On the same score, it’s not hard to imagine a world where Trump loses the primary, but “the voters” still want him to run. What stops Trump from citing imagined “disrespect” and starting a third-party campaign? Nothing. The Republican Party can’t stop him, and it can’t sanction him. The party thinks it has power over him, but it doesn’t.

If anything, the loyalty pledge enhances his platform. He can run his campaign—touting Social Security and condemning illegal immigration—and when he loses the nomination, he’ll have the audience and support he needs to make an independent run. Whether Priebus knows it or not, he’s been played, and it’s going to hurt.


By: Jamelle Bouie, Slate, September 3, 2015

September 6, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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