The latest email craziness

1) This is almost textbook example of media feeding frenzy.  I suspect I’ll be using it in class for years.  The media has gone crazy– and crazy with speculation– when they know so very little.  The two key paragraphs in the Post story (with my highlights):

Officials familiar with the inquiry said it was too early to assess the significance of the newly discovered emails. It is possible, they said, that some or all of the correspondence is duplicative of the emails that were already turned over and examined by the FBI.

Comey made a similar point in his letter, sent to congressional committee chairmen, saying that the FBI “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant.”

In fact, given that the FBI has reviewed thousands of emails and found nothing significant, the odds that reviewing more emails between Clinton and Huma Abedin will find something politically, much less, legally, significant, strike me as minuscule.

Drum with a nice collage of the breathless headlines:

At this point there is literally zero evidence that these emails contain any sort of Clinton wrong-doing, but given the level of coverage you’d practically think they found emails saying, “I really do love TPP, I purposely deleted all those other emails to thwart the FBI, and I decided to stand-down at Benghazi because I wanted those Americans killed.”

Not all that surprising because, from a journalistic perspective– the race had gotten pretty boring.  No more debates, no more interesting revelations.  Clinton with a seemingly solid lead.  We even talked about this in my media class on Thursday.  When you’ve got “news” to sell, that just won’t cut it.  The opportunity to write a story with “Hillary Clinton” and “email” in the headline, well, there you go.  Even if, at this point, there’s no evidence of nothing.

2) Legal scholar Ben Wittes:

When the FBI wants to say it is reopening an investigation, it knows perfectly well how to say that. In this case, the investigation was actually never actually closed, so it doesn’t need to be reopened. The relevance of this letter is likely not that explosive new evidence of Clinton criminality has suddenly emerged.

It is that Comey made a set of representations to Congress that have been complicated by new information, apparently from the Anthony Weiner sexting case. So he’s informing Congress of that fact before the election.

Comey represented to Congress that the Clinton email investigation was “complete.” But as the letter relates, new emails have now come to the bureau’s attention in that appears relevant to this one. (Weiner’s estranged wife is one Clinton’s top aides.) Comey has okayed a review of that new information to determine whether the emails contain classified material and also whether they are, in fact, relevant. And this fact, renders his prior statement to Congress no longer true.

The key point here, in other words, is not that he is “reopening” a closed matter investigation because of some bombshell. It is that he is amending his public testimony to Congress that the FBI was done while the bureau examines new material that may or may not [emphasis in original] have implications for investigative conclusions previously reached.

3) I thought Senator Dianne Feinstein’s response was pretty damn good (oddly, cannot find a cut and pastable version, so I’m going with this edited version:

“This is particularly troubling since so many questions are unanswered,” Feinstein said in a statement. “It’s unclear whether these emails have already been reviewed or if Secretary Clinton sent or received them. In fact, we don’t even know if the FBI has these emails in its possession.”

Feinstein continued: “Without knowing how many emails are involved, who wrote them, when they were written or their subject matter, it’s impossible to make any informed judgment on this development.”

The Democratic senator noted Trump was “already using the letter for political purposes” with just under two weeks remaining until the election.

“Director Comey admits ‘the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant.’ He cannot predict how long the investigation will take. And we don’t know if the FBI has these emails in hand,” she said.

Feinstein concluded: “It’s too bad Director Comey didn’t take those gaping holes into consideration when he decided to send this letter. The FBI has a history of extreme caution near Election Day so as not to influence the results. Today’s break from that tradition is appalling.”

All true.  Partisanship aside, this truly is very questionable behavior from Comey.  Maybe, he really had to say something.  But to just come out with this weak tea and leave it to erupt into full/extreme political innuendo just before an election is incredibly irresponsible.

4) Impact on the election?  Not likely.  This may well hurt Clinton some in the polls, but at this point she has locked up Democratic partisans pretty damn well, and that is the key for her.  There’s almost zero chance there’s additional revelations in the emails to come that are going to cause Democrats to defect from her.  Now, ongoing media coverage definitely hurts, but I also suspect it may well peter out quickly once it becomes clear, there’s likely no there there.

What’s up with deep Southern college-educated whites

So, I posted that cool Survey Monkey map the other day, but I was really struck by this one, I didn’t post.  I was reminded of it due to this Ronald Brownstein tweet:

Anyway, here’s the map— Electoral college map by college-educated whites:


Damn!  What is with those deep Southern whites?!  I already knew this on an intellectual level (i.e., 90% of whites in Mississipi are Republican, which obviously means most all the college-educated ones are as well), but it still is striking to see visually. Is this just the power of evangelical Christianity?  Racial resentment?  ‘

If I wasn’t hopelessly behind on half-a-dozen different things, I’d have to play around with the 2012 NES data.  Maybe, I still will.  This is a map I want to understand better.


What college-educated, white Democrats and minority Democrats have in common

In a word: optimism.  Another one of Tom Edsall’s truly great deep dives into the data and social science research:

Democrats, including the party’s elite, remain decisively liberal, and have become more cosmopolitan — more readily accepting of globalization, more welcoming of immigrants, less nationalistic — and more optimistic about the future. [emphases mine]

The Pew Research Center found in April 2016 that:

Highly educated adults – particularly those who have attended graduate school – are far more likely than those with less education to take predominantly liberal positions across a range of political values. And these differences have increased over the past two decades.

From 1994 to 2014, the percentage of voters with postgraduate degrees holding “consistently liberal” views grew fourfold, from 7 to 31 percent, and fivefold among those with college degrees, 5 to 24 percent.

Whites remain the majority in both political parties, 57 percent of Democratic voters and 86 percent of Republicans. White Democrats share a high level of optimism with the two largest Democratic minority constituencies, African-Americans and Hispanics.

Working class African-Americans and Hispanics are, like their white counterparts without degrees, on the low end of the income distribution. When blacks and Hispanics compare their situations to those of their parents, they see their circumstances improving, in contrast to low income, non-college whites, who see a downward trajectory.

As Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins, wrote in February in these pages, African-Americans

may look back to a time when discrimination deprived their parents of equal opportunities. Many Hispanics may look back to the lower standard of living their parents experienced in their countries of origin. Whites are likely to compare themselves to a reference group that leads them to feel worse off. Blacks and Hispanics compare themselves to reference groups that may make them feel better off.

For many whites, Cherlin writes,

their main reference group is their parents’ generation, and by that standard they have little to look forward to and a lot to lament

Less well-educated blacks and Hispanics have not experienced the income gains of the college-educated of all races, but they do see their lives improving when their parents are the reference point.

This is reflected in responses in an August 2016 Pew report to the question “compared with 50 years ago, life for people like you in America today is worse, better or the same?”

The optimists: Clinton supporters (59 better, 19 worse), Democrats (55-23), white college grads (43-39), African-Americans (51-20), voters with post graduate degrees (51-29). A separate June 2016 Pew survey of Hispanic voters found that 81 percent of Clinton supporters expect their family’s finances to improve in the near term, and 72 percent said they expect their children to be better off than they are.

The pessimists: Trump supporters (81 worse, 11 better), Republicans (72-17) and whites without college degrees (60-28).

Among well-educated whites, there are clear reasons for optimism. What is a primary marker of likely success in the contemporary American economy? The answer in one word is education…

The shift of working class whites over the past half-century from the Democratic to Republican Party gained momentum after Pat Buchanan and Pat Robertson were granted prime time spots at the 1992 Republican convention to give fire-breathing speeches celebrating social conservatism that drove many suburbanites out of the Republican Party into the Democratic Party.

Looking now at the changing composition of the Republican electorate, what stands out is the failure of party leaders to anticipate the discontent of their own primary voters.

Preliminary indications are that the traditional top levels of the Republican Party hierarchy — heavily populated by the affluent and the wealthy — will face major hurdles retaining control after the coming election. The Trump campaign has demonstrated that many Republican voters are deeply critical of their own party establishment, to put it mildly…

The largely white upscale wing of the Democratic Party is far more liberal on economic policy than its self-interest would suggest. In the UVA-IASC survey, the social elite is not only sympathetic to the poor and to pro-government intervention, but, by 3 to 1, believes that the “system is rigged in favor” of the wealthy; by nearly 6 to 1 believes that Wall Street and big business “profit at the expense of ordinary Americans;” and believes, by better than 2 to 1, that the government “should do more to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.”

This is a longer piece, but so, so much goodness in here.  I expect I will be referring back to the ideas in here many, many times in the future.

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