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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

“A Lone Ranger”: Not Much Evidence Donald Trump Can Win The Presidency On The Shoulders Of The White Working Class

It took the chattering classes a while to figure out that Donald Trump had a particular appeal to white non-college-educated Republican primary voters. But once they figured it out, some leaped to a very different proposition: that Trump could ride an army of white working-class voters to the White House despite his many electoral weaknesses, via boffo performances in normally Democratic-leaning midwestern states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa (all carried twice by Barack Obama).

A closer look at the data shows Trump not quite so dominant among non-college-educated white voters (particularly outside the South), and not adding enough value in this one demographic compared to what he loses in others.

The most sophisticated version of the argument that Trump could have a narrow path to victory comes from the estimable Ron Brownstein, who believes that all other things being equal, Trump might reverse some narrow Democratic margins in the Midwest by reversing equally narrow Democratic margins (atypical for the country as a whole) among white working-class voters. I emphasize the qualifier because it’s not all that likely that all other things will be equal with Trump at the top of the ticket; he will surely lose some 2012 Romney voters, perhaps a lot of them.

But it’s important to remember that Republicans are already winning non-college-educated white voters by a big margin. Mitt Romney won an estimated 62 percent of this vote in 2012. Any Trump “bonus” will have to come either from improvements in that number, increased white working-class turnout (against the stiff wind of that group’s declining share of the population), or from some significant redistribution of the white working-class vote by region or state.

One broad indicator of the very different picture you get by shifting from white working-class voters within Republican primaries and white working-class voters generally is in the new ABC/Washington Post analysis of Trump’s favorability ratios among different demographic groups. He comes in at 47-52 among non-college-educated whites, a truly terrible performance not just in terms of his perceived strengths but as compared to Romney’s actual support in the last election.

But there’s some more granular evidence as well of the limits of Trump’s white working-class vote in a competitive environment in the very midwestern cockpit where it should matter most. At the Democratic Strategist (disclosure: I have a long association with that site), Andrew Levison has examined the relative performance of all candidates from both parties in three recent midwestern open primaries, and shown that Trump’s share of the total white working-class vote ranged from 26 percent in Illinois to 30 percent in Ohio (where he actually lost the primary to John Kasich). These numbers should reflect whatever appeal Trump has among marginal voters — i.e., those he can uniquely bring to the polls. Moreover, despite significantly higher overall turnout, the Republican field with Trump in it registered less than overwhelming margins among white working-class voters in Illinois (56 percent) and Michigan (58 percent). Republicans did win 67 percent in Ohio, almost certainly as a product of the appeal not of Trump but of home-state governor John Kasich.

Even if you only discount the GOP percentage of white working-class voters in these midwestern states a few points to reflect across-the-board turnout factors that probably had little to do with any one demographic, it’s not looking like the kind of tsunami that could come close to offsetting Trump’s probable drop in Romney-level support in other parts of the electorate — most notably in Republican-leaning women and highly educated professionals. The ABC/Washington Post analysis put Trump’s favorability ratios at 14-85 among Hispanics, at 18-80 among voters under the age of 35, at 29-68 among white women, and at 23-74 among white college graduates. This is a long, long way from looking like a winning coalition.

 

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

April 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, GOP Primaries, White Working Class | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Race, Class And Neglect”: Baltimore, And America, Don’t Have To Be As Unjust As They Are

Every time you’re tempted to say that America is moving forward on race — that prejudice is no longer as important as it used to be — along comes an atrocity to puncture your complacency. Almost everyone realizes, I hope, that the Freddie Gray affair wasn’t an isolated incident, that it’s unique only to the extent that for once there seems to be a real possibility that justice may be done.

And the riots in Baltimore, destructive as they are, have served at least one useful purpose: drawing attention to the grotesque inequalities that poison the lives of too many Americans.

Yet I do worry that the centrality of race and racism to this particular story may convey the false impression that debilitating poverty and alienation from society are uniquely black experiences. In fact, much though by no means all of the horror one sees in Baltimore and many other places is really about class, about the devastating effects of extreme and rising inequality.

Take, for example, issues of health and mortality. Many people have pointed out that there are a number of black neighborhoods in Baltimore where life expectancy compares unfavorably with impoverished Third World nations. But what’s really striking on a national basis is the way class disparities in death rates have been soaring even among whites.

Most notably, mortality among white women has increased sharply since the 1990s, with the rise surely concentrated among the poor and poorly educated; life expectancy among less educated whites has been falling at rates reminiscent of the collapse of life expectancy in post-Communist Russia.

And yes, these excess deaths are the result of inequality and lack of opportunity, even in those cases where their direct cause lies in self-destructive behavior. Overuse of prescription drugs, smoking, and obesity account for a lot of early deaths, but there’s a reason such behaviors are so widespread, and that reason has to do with an economy that leaves tens of millions behind.

It has been disheartening to see some commentators still writing as if poverty were simply a matter of values, as if the poor just mysteriously make bad choices and all would be well if they adopted middle-class values. Maybe, just maybe, that was a sustainable argument four decades ago, but at this point it should be obvious that middle-class values only flourish in an economy that offers middle-class jobs.

The great sociologist William Julius Wilson argued long ago that widely-decried social changes among blacks, like the decline of traditional families, were actually caused by the disappearance of well-paying jobs in inner cities. His argument contained an implicit prediction: if other racial groups were to face a similar loss of job opportunity, their behavior would change in similar ways.

And so it has proved. Lagging wages — actually declining in real terms for half of working men — and work instability have been followed by sharp declines in marriage, rising births out of wedlock, and more.

As Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution writes: “Blacks have faced, and will continue to face, unique challenges. But when we look for the reasons why less skilled blacks are failing to marry and join the middle class, it is largely for the same reasons that marriage and a middle-class lifestyle is eluding a growing number of whites as well.”

So it is, as I said, disheartening still to see commentators suggesting that the poor are causing their own poverty, and could easily escape if only they acted like members of the upper middle class.

And it’s also disheartening to see commentators still purveying another debunked myth, that we’ve spent vast sums fighting poverty to no avail (because of values, you see.)

In reality, federal spending on means-tested programs other than Medicaid has fluctuated between 1 and 2 percent of G.D.P. for decades, going up in recessions and down in recoveries. That’s not a lot of money — it’s far less than other advanced countries spend — and not all of it goes to families below the poverty line.

Despite this, measures that correct well-known flaws in the statistics show that we have made some real progress against poverty. And we would make a lot more progress if we were even a fraction as generous toward the needy as we imagine ourselves to be.

The point is that there is no excuse for fatalism as we contemplate the evils of poverty in America. Shrugging your shoulders as you attribute it all to values is an act of malign neglect. The poor don’t need lectures on morality, they need more resources — which we can afford to provide — and better economic opportunities, which we can also afford to provide through everything from training and subsidies to higher minimum wages. Baltimore, and America, don’t have to be as unjust as they are.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, May 4, 2015

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Baltimore, Economic Inequality, Poverty | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Please Proceed SCOTUS”: Affirmative Action Has Helped White Women More Than Anyone Else

In the coming days, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in a potentially landmark case on the constitutionality of affirmative action. The original lawsuit was filed on behalf of Abigail Fisher, a woman who claims that she was denied admission to the University of Texas because she is white. But study after study shows that affirmative action helps white women as much or even more than it helps men and women of color. Ironically, Fisher is exactly the kind of person affirmative action helps the most in America today.

Originally, women weren’t even included in legislation attempting to level the playing field in education and employment. The first affirmative-action measure in America was an executive order signed by President Kennedy in 1961 requiring that federal contractors “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” In 1967, President Johnson amended this, and a subsequent measure included sex, recognizing that women also faced many discriminatory barriers and hurdles to equal opportunity. Meanwhile, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 only included sex in the list of prohibited forms of discrimination because conservative opponents of the legislation hoped that including it would sway moderate members of Congress to withdraw their support for the bill. Still, in a nation where white women and black people were once considered property — not allowed to own property themselves and not allowed to vote — it was clear to all those who were seeking fairness and opportunity that both groups faced monumental obstacles.

While people of color, individually and as groups, have been helped by affirmative action in the subsequent years, data and studies suggest women — white women in particular — have benefited disproportionately. According to one study, in 1995, 6 million women, the majority of whom were white, had jobs they wouldn’t have otherwise held but for affirmative action.

Another study shows that women made greater gains in employment at companies that do business with the federal government, which are therefore subject to federal affirmative-action requirements, than in other companies — with female employment rising 15.2% at federal contractors but only 2.2% elsewhere. And the women working for federal-contractor companies also held higher positions and were paid better.

Even in the private sector, the advancements of white women eclipse those of people of color. After IBM established its own affirmative-action program, the numbers of women in management positions more than tripled in less than 10 years. Data from subsequent years show that the number of executives of color at IBM also grew, but not nearly at the same rate.

The successes of white women make a case not for abandoning affirmative action but for continuing it. As the numbers in the Senate and the Fortune 500 show, women still face barriers to equal participation in leadership roles. Of course, the case for continuing affirmative action for people of color is even greater. The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households. Researchers found that the same résumé for the same job application will get twice as many callbacks for interviews if the name on the résumé is Greg instead of Jamal. School districts spend more on predominantly white schools than predominantly black schools. The fact that black workers earn, on average, 35% less than white workers in the same job isn’t erased by the election of an African-American President — one who, by the way, openly praises the role of affirmative action in his life and accomplishments.

As for Fisher, there is ample evidence that she just wasn’t qualified to get into the University of Texas. After all, her grades weren’t that great, and the year she applied for the university, admissions there were actually more competitive than Harvard’s. In its court filings, the university has pointed out that even if Fisher received a point for race, she still wouldn’t have met the threshold for admissions. Yes, it is true that in the same year, the University of Texas made exceptions and admitted some students with lower grades and test scores than Fisher. Five of those students were black or Latino. Forty-two were white.

By: Sally Kohn, Time, June 17, 2013

June 22, 2013 Posted by | Supreme Court, Women | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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