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“They’re Not An Interesting Story Line”: Hillary’s Army Of Women Conquers New York, Occupies The Democratic Party

We talk endlessly about the youth vote in the Democratic primaries, as Bernie Sanders wins young voters four- and five-to-one. But young voters are typically around one-fifth of electorate; under 30s were 17 percent in New York, according to the exit polls.

But we talk less about the women’s vote, which made up an eye-popping 59 percent of the Democratic vote. That’s three out of five voters, with Clinton winning more than three out of five of those votes (63-37). But hey, they’re not an interesting story line.

Actually that 59 percent number isn’t eye-popping if you’ve done any homework. Women were 58 percent of the Democratic primary vote in New York in 2008, when Clinton beat Barack Obama by one point more than the 16 she topped Sanders by yesterday. And it tracks with other results this year. Women were 58 percent in Florida, 56 percent in Ohio, and 55 percent even in Michigan, which Clinton lost (although she carried women by 51-44 percent). There’s hardly a state where women weren’t at least 55 percent of the vote (in primaries; caucuses don’t have gender breakdowns), and there aren’t many states where Clinton didn’t win among women by double digits.

So what? True, it’s not surprising. But just because something isn’t surprising doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting or that it doesn’t have ramifications. This is, and does.

What’s interesting about it is this: Sanders’s campaign surely knew the 2008 exit-poll data. Don’t you think a candidate might try to craft a message that would appeal more directly to three-fifths of the electorate he’s trying to woo?

Assuming Sanders does lose this nomination, his supporters will complain about the corrupt bosses and the system being rigged and all that. But those who decide to take a slightly more introspective approach to their Monday-morning quarterbacking might ask why their candidate didn’t bother to make any effort to speak more directly to the particular concerns of the groups that are the Democratic Party.

I know, I know—Citizens United affects everybody, health care affects everybody, the big banks affect everybody. You don’t have to tell me. I’m a universalist critic of excessive identity politics going back to the 1990s. At the same time, some measure of identity politics is necessary and good! Different groups of people have actual distinct concerns in life, and politicians are supposed to address them.

When Sanders talks about the Supreme Court, it’s always about Citizens United, and only occasionally about Roe v. Wade. When Clinton went on that riff at the Brooklyn debate about how in all the debates they’d never been asked a single question about Roe, I bet a lot of light bulbs went off over a lot of heads. Sanders didn’t actively alienate women as he did African Americans and their conservative, reality-distorting votes, but he didn’t go out of his way for them either.

As for ramifications, the results tell us a little something about how a general election might play out against Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. It should be pointed out that Trump crushed it among women in New York on the Republican side, since after all as we know he cherishes women and will be the best president for women in history, forget about it. He got 57 percent to John Kasich’s 28 percent and Cruz’s 15 percent. But there, women were only 44 percent of the vote. And in terms of raw vote totals, Clinton hauled in almost exactly twice the number of votes Trump did—1.037 million to 518,000. That means about 665,000 women voted for Clinton, while just 215,000 voted for Trump.

The story has been similar in most contests. In Florida, Trump’s best big state outside of New York, Clinton got 675,000 votes from women, and Trump 464,000. It adds up. Of course Trump is going to dominate her among men overall (she’ll beat him, one assumes, among black and Latino men, just because they’re so overwhelmingly Democratic and, in the case of Latinos, she doesn’t want to throw them out of the country).

The big secret questions of whether Clinton can make it to the White House are these: How much sexism is out there in 2016, in terms of men just not wanting a woman president; and how many women will say “I don’t like that Hillary” a hundred times up until Election Day but then get in the voting booth and think, “Well, woman president…” and pull her lever.

We’re not going to know these things until the morning of Nov. 9. We do know that we’re headed toward a real battle of the sexes this fall.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, April 20, 2016

April 21, 2016 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Women Voters, Young Voters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Very Enthusiastic Cycle For Democrats”: There Are New Signs That Trump Is Indeed Energizing Democrats

It’s been a long time — eight years, to be exact — since the words Democrats and enthusiasm have been credibly uttered in the same sentence. And even now, it seems the most enthusiastic Democrats are those highly attached to a presidential candidate who is probably going to lose the nomination on what will feel like a technical knockout or just points. Meanwhile, Republicans are very excited — or in some cases, freaked out — and are participating in primaries at high levels.

Observers have naturally wondered if the very things that so excite Republicans in the presidential contest will eventually excite Democrats — negatively, of course, by creating the specter of an extremist presidency occupied by either a white-identity politician or a throwback to Barry Goldwater.

Now via Greg Sargent comes some data from Stan Greenberg on engagement in the election indicating the Trump Factor could indeed be making a difference with Democratic groups:

Last November, Greenberg warned that the lack of engagement of Dem voter groups loomed as a big problem for Democrats. Now, however, this new poll shows a big bump in engagement among college educated women, minorities, white unmarried women, and Democrats overall. This would suggest a potential downside with Trump’s apparent strategy of unleashing white (male) backlash: Anything Trump says and does to keep that backlash at fever pitch — like the things he’s been all over the media for lately — risks increasing the engagement of Dem leaning groups.

It’s the age-old problem with highly conspicuous voter-mobilization techniques: the more loudly you labor to rev up your “base,” the more you do your opponents’ work in revving up their base as well. It’s why Get Out the Vote programs are often more effective when they operate under the radar screen. There’s nobody more on the radar screen than Donald J. Trump.

If Cruz manages to beat Trump in Cleveland, here’s guessing his scary-to-Democrats features will become rapidly more evident when they are no longer eclipsed by Trump’s. There will always be a few Susan Sarandons out there who insist there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two major parties unless one or the other is under entirely new management. But this could turn out to be a very enthusiastic cycle for Democrats even if they have some misgivings about their nominee. Back in the heyday of racial politics in the 1960s and 1970s, there was talk of reactionary backlash sometimes stimulating progressive frontlash. That could be what we are beginning to see right now.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, April 1, 2016

April 2, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, Donald Trump, General Election 2016 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Unwilling To Attack Trump In Any Damaging Way”: Republicans Have Forgotten How To Call Trump A Con Man

For about two weeks, until Donald Trump swept another round of elections on Tuesday, Republicans had settled on a line of attack that finally threatened to do him lasting damage. Rather than portray him as a bully or a clown or (disingenuously) as a liberal, they called him a con artist and a manipulator. In a subtle acquiescence to his campaign of demagoguery, they warned Republican voters not to be taken in by his appeals to their fears and biases—not because their fears and biases are unfounded, but because, as a con artist, he couldn’t be counted on to actually address them.

Then, just as quickly, that line of attack disappeared—and was nowhere to be heard at Thursday night’s debate in Miami.

The Republican presidential primary campaign has been bedeviled all along by a collective-action problem that has manifested in various ways. It appeared first as reluctance among frontrunners to attack Donald Trump at all, which created an incentive for other insurgent candidates like Ted Cruz to champion his message. That unorchestrated approach lead other well-positioned candidates to attack one another, and ultimately drove otherwise viable candidates (Scott Walker, Rick Perry) from the campaign earlier than expected.

As the race narrowed, pretenders to the nomination stepped forward, one at a time, to mount anti-Trump attacks on behalf of the entire field. Each one was damaged—most famously Jeb Bush, who dropped out after losing badly in South Carolina. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich survived this process, all hoping to emerge as Trump’s sole competitor for the nomination. But none of them has been able to force the others out. Now, with Trump poised to win the nomination, his competitors are again unwilling to attack Trump in any damaging way.

On Thursday, just days before Trump could effectively end the primary by taking the winner-take-all contests in Ohio and Florida, the collective-action problem manifested as sheer bafflement. For two hours, Trump, who refrained for the first time ever from taunting his rivals, drew almost no sustained criticism.

Acting in a subdued manner may be the greatest con of Trump’s campaign. Trump has essentially admitted it’s an affected disposition—he likes to boast about how presidential he’s capable of behaving when he wants to. And yet suddenly, at the most critical juncture of the race, none of the rivals, who one week ago were happy to call Trump a con man, were willing to implore GOP primary voters to reject him.

Whether this reflects resignation, or a fear of looking ridiculous at the crucial last minute (as Marco Rubio did last month when he suggested Trump had small genitals), it allows Trump to enter the next round of primaries without a cloud of debate-stage negativity hanging over his head.

Should Trump win the nomination, largely as a result of this collective-action problem, he will enter the general-election campaign crippled. He is fatally unpopular with female voters and minorities, and not nearly popular enough with white men to close the gap.

Many liberals fear the prospect of Trump’s nomination, because they worry his feigned populism will expand the electorate in ways that might allow him to win. They assume, with good reason, that the Republican Party (or large segments of it) will reconcile itself to his nomination, and that by closing ranks, the people who now say #NeverTrump will help propel him to victory.

It is far, far likelier that Trump will lose the general election by a larger margin than Democrats deserve. When that happens, Republicans will relearn how to call Trump a con man. To anyone who will listen, they will disclaim him as a fluke—a skilled entertainer who ran an infomercial-like campaign and swindled Republicans into supporting him. They will see it as the path of least resistance, the only argument they can make to avoid reckoning with the fact that the Trump phenomenon is actually the product of years of Republican maximalism and apocalyptic rhetoric.

The challenge for everyone else will be to remind them of nights like tonight—when, faced with the prospect of a bigoted demagogue taking over their party, they said nothing.

 

By: Brian Beutler, The New Republic, March 11, 2016

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fearmongering, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The GOP Presidential Primary Is Fraught With Male Anxiety”: A Phase Of The Campaign That Is Turning Positively Comical

As Chris Matthews memorably put it many years ago, Democrats are the “mommy party,” handling things like education and health care, while Republicans are the “daddy party,” concerned with things like crime and foreign threats. It’s an oversimplification, of course, but there’s some truth there, and it helps explain the persistent gender gap, with Democrats usually winning female voters and Republicans usually winning male voters.

But in this year’s presidential primary, we’ve entered a phase of the campaign that is turning positively comical in its expressions of male anxiety.

Just consider some of the things that have happened of late. Yesterday at a Donald Trump rally, a woman in the audience responded to Trump’s criticism of Ted Cruz for being insufficiently enthusiastic about torturing prisoners by shouting, “He’s a pussy!” Almost bursting with glee, Trump pretended to scold the woman, first telling her to repeat it, and then repeating it himself to the explosive delight of the audience.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz is trying to make an issue out of the fact that when his opponents were asked if women should register for the draft since they will now be serving in combat positions, they said Yes. Said Cruz:

“I’m the father of two little girls. I love those girls with all of my heart. They are capable of doing anything in their heart’s desire, but the idea that their government would forcibly put them in a foxhole with a 220-pound psychopath trying to kill them doesn’t make any sense at all.”

What actually doesn’t make sense is why Cruz thinks the military would be putting any soldier, male or female, in a foxhole with another soldier who is a psychopath trying to kill them, but in any case, Cruz is here to stand tall. As the National Review put it in an editorial today, “Men should protect women. They should not shelter behind mothers and daughters.”

This comes after Marco Rubio got ridiculed for wearing fancy boots (“A Vote for Marco Rubio Is a Vote for Men’s High-Heeled Booties,” tweeted a Cruz staffer). And after Donald Trump spent weeks mocking Jeb Bush for being “low energy.”

In other words, this race is sounding like a bunch of elementary-school boys on the playground shouting “You’re a girl! No, you’re a girl! Girly girl! Girly girl!” I’m beginning to think the whole thing should be narrated by David Attenborough, whispering from behind a bush as we watch the candidates in action: “Here, we see the males bellowing and stomping their feet in a classic dominance display, each one more puffed up than the next, until one lucky silverback, his chest heaving with exertion and a rush of testosterone, forces his competitor to slink off in shame, his genes never to be passed on.”

Obviously, much of this festival of male anxiety is driven by Trump, whose entire life at times appears to be an extended attempt to prove he’s a Real Man. But this is an old story in presidential politics; indeed, in almost every election of the last few decades there are times when Republicans have implied or said directly that the Democratic candidate is effeminate and weak, whether it was Ronald Reagan challenging Walter Mondale to arm-wrestle, George H.W. Bush saying Michael Dukakis hailed from the “Harvard Yard’s boutique,” or Republicans mocking John Kerry for supposedly “looking French” (you know what that means).

The message all this is supposed to communicate is that real men vote Republican, and if you vote for the wrong candidate then your own masculinity might be in question. In a primary campaign where all the candidates fetishize “strength” and have equally belligerent foreign policy ideas, distinguishing yourself on this score requires getting increasingly personal.

Looming in the background is the fact that whoever gets the GOP nomination will probably be running against an actual woman, not a man who can be mocked as effeminate. This complicates matters, to say the least. The sexual politics around Hillary Clinton have always been fraught with ideas about proper gender roles; indeed the most common joke late-night writers made about Clinton throughout her career was that she is in fact not a woman at all, but a man (they were particularly fond of jokes about Clinton having balls).

So it wasn’t a surprise that when a reporter for Mic.com tracked down the woman who shouted out at the Trump rally, she was happy to go on an extended riff about the size of the various candidates’ testicles and which fruits they most closely resemble. But the real target here is male voters, the ones who want to make sure nobody calls their own virility into question. To appeal to them, the candidates are turning that attack on each other. Every American male knows from a young age that the worst thing your peers can call you is a girl; some people just never get over it.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, February 9, 2016

February 10, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Gender Gap, GOP Primary Debates | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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