Today in email (and Comey’s incredibly reckless decision)

1) Jane Mayer:

Comey’s decision is a striking break with the policies of the Department of Justice, according to current and former federal legal officials. Comey, who is a Republican appointee of President Obama, has a reputation for integrity and independence, but his latest action is stirring an extraordinary level of concern among legal authorities, who see it as potentially affecting the outcome of the Presidential and congressional elections.

“You don’t do this,” one former senior Justice Department official exclaimed. “It’s aberrational. It violates decades of practice.” The reason, according to the former official, who asked not to be identified because of ongoing cases involving the department, “is because it impugns the integrity and reputation of the candidate, even though there’s no finding by a court, or in this instance even an indictment.”

Traditionally, the Justice Department has advised prosecutors and law enforcement to avoid any appearance of meddling in the outcome of elections, even if it means holding off on pressing cases. One former senior official recalled that Janet Reno, the Attorney General under Bill Clinton, “completely shut down” the prosecution of a politically sensitive criminal target prior to an election. “She was adamant—anything that could influence the election had to go dark,” the former official said.

The obvious reason for this is that as soon as most people hear “investigation” or “indictment” they think “guilty!!”  Especially, if those people are reporters with news to sell.  Is Comey seriously ignorant enough to believe that his simple letter would not have exactly this absurd outsized impact?!  (Trump calling it bigger than Watergate.  Even for Trump, that’s a whopper, but will his voters know?).

2) Okay, so this is disturbing?  They may not even have any clue at all what’s in the email.  Or even the legal authority yet to read them:

As of Saturday night, the FBI had still not gotten approval from the Justice Department for a warrant that would allow agency officials to read any of the newly discovered Abedin emails, and therefore are still in the dark about whether they include any classified material that the bureau has not already seen.

“We do not have a warrant,” a senior law enforcement official said. “Discussions are under way [between the FBI and the Justice Department] as to the best way to move forward.”

That Comey and other senior FBI officials were not aware of what was in the emails — and whether they contained any material the FBI had not already obtained — is important because Donald Trump’s campaign and Republicans in Congress have suggested that the FBI director would not have written his letter unless he had been made aware of significant new emails that might justify reopening the investigation into the Clinton server.

But a message that Comey wrote to all FBI agents Friday seeking to explain his decision to write the controversial letter strongly hinted that investigators did not not yet have legal authority establishing “probable cause” to review the content of Abedin’s emails on Weiner’s electronic devices.

Ugh.  Seriously?!  Again, you don’t have to be a DOJ laywer to recognize how irresponsible Comey’s letter was.

3) Greg Sargent:

But putting that dispute aside, one thing seems inarguable: Comey had to know that releasing such a vaguely worded letter to lawmakers at this time would allow Republicans to argue that new evidence of Clinton’s criminality has been discovered. This is of course exactly what has happened. This risks “misleading” the American people, which Comey’s latest justification claims he wanted to avoid, and which Comey has now facilitated and enabled in a huge way. If he actually does want to avoid this, he should rectify the situation by providing more clarity right now.

4) To beat a dead horse (but a horse that deservedly need to be beaten to a pulp), from today’s Post:

Federal law enforcement officials said it was possible the messages could be duplicates to others already recovered in the case, and they could also be benign. Former FBI officials said that once agents have the legal authority to more closely examine the emails, they would likely use a computer program to weed out duplicates, then slowly examine the remaining messages for classified information and evidence of obstruction or bad intent.

Got that?  At this point there is literally zero reason to believe there is any evidence that these emails show criminal malfeasance on the part of Clinton or Abedin.  They have already been over thousands and thousands of emails–maybe even these very ones— simple logic dictates there’s nothing actionable here just because they are on a different computer.

5) Former DOJ Public Affairs officer Matthew Miller is on Comey like nobody’s business:

With each step, Comey moved further away from department guidelines and precedents, culminating in Friday’s letter to Congress. This letter not only violated Justice rules on commenting on ongoing investigations but also flew in the face of years of precedent about how to handle sensitive cases as Election Day nears.

Justice traditionally bends over backward to avoid taking any action that might be seen by the public as influencing an election, often declining to even take private steps that might become public in the 60 days leading up to an election. For an example, in one case of which I am aware, the FBI opened an investigation into a high-ranking public official shortly before an election but delayed sending any subpoenas until after the election for fear that they might leak and unfairly tarnish the official. Indeed, that investigation ultimately concluded with no charges…

With that independence comes a responsibility to adhere to the rules that protect the rights of those whom the FBI investigates. Comey has failed that standard repeatedly in his handling of the Clinton investigation.

6) And a great take from Josh Marshall.  My favorite part is he writes the letter Comey should have written:

If he felt he was obligated to inform Congress, he must have realized that that notification would rapidly become public. Because of that, he was obligated to provide substantially more information. From the totality of what we know based on the last 24 hours of reporting, that different letter would have gone something like this:

In the course of the investigation of Anthony Weiner, investigators discovered a new batch of emails from Clinton aide Huma Abedin. We do not yet know whether any of those emails contain classified information or whether some or all are in fact duplicates of emails the FBI already obtained and scrutinized during its investigation of Secretary Clinton’s private email server. At present we have no reason to believe these newly discovered emails would change the decision reached in July. However, based on the recommendations of investigators, I have decided that we will review these emails from on the Weiner/Abedin computer to ascertain the answers to both of those questions. Out of an abundance of caution, I have taken the step to inform Congress of this new development.

Such a letter still would have been a major campaign story. But it would have had the benefit of replacing clarifying information with ambiguity and confusion.

Comey’s rejoinder would almost certainly be that the FBI does not discuss on-going investigations and certainly does not try to prejudge on-going reviews. Normally, that is 100% right. That is the bureaucratic reflex action. But that horse left the barn months ago. Comey’s key, critical error was not realizing that having already dispensed with the most central guidelines of FBI procedure on these matters he could not maintain other norms and guidelines in their entirety without a further analysis of how to address the various equities and interests these policies are normally intended to protect. In other words, once he was operating totally outside the lines – though, perhaps for good reason – he needed to give much more thought to how to address the imperative of non-interference in an election while operating outside the lines. There is little doubt that that meant sharing considerably more detail about what was happening than he did in his letter to Rep. Chaffetz (R-UT) and the other committee chairs.

As I wrote yesterday, before we knew the bulk of the information uncovered over the last 24 hours, I still do not think (though my credulity is somewhat more strained) that Comey operated out of any partisan motive. But I do think his highest priority was protecting himself and the FBI from Republican criticism. The net effect was a colossal fuck up which I fear will have profound repercussions regardless of who wins the presidency in 10 days.

7) The reason this is so frustrating is because the media is so irresponsible in situations like this.  And even if they weren’t, Republican politicians (and Democrats if the shoe were on the other foot) are incredibly irresponsible.  Thus, even if the media weren’t horribly irresponsible, their “he said, she said” approach would ultimately award irresponsibility.  In short, irresponsibility wins.  And, again, Comey has to know this.

Does this mean Trump will know win?  I really don’t think so.  But this is an episode of amazingly foolish and careless behavior by a top law-enforcement official magnified to an exponential degree by our pathological campaign press.  I suspect I will be using this as an example for decades when I discuss media feeding frenzies.

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Quick hits (part I)

1) I’m quite disturbed by the verdict in Oregon.  Looking forward to reading more about it.  Hard not to see a race angle.  German Lopez:

The defense argued there was no intent to keep federal employees off the refuge. But come on. An armed group occupied a federal building. Your imagination doesn’t have to stretch very far to realize what was happening.

Yet a jury found them not guilty.

It is impossible to ignore race here. This was a group of armed white people, mostly men, taking over a facility. Just imagine: What would happen if a group of armed black men, protesting police brutality, tried to take over a police facility and hold it hostage for more than a month? Would they even come out alive and get to trial? Would a jury find them and their cause relatable, making it easier to send them back home with no prison time?

One doesn’t have to do much imagining here, either. The social science is pretty clear: People are much more likely to look at black people and see criminals and wrongdoers. They don’t get the privilege of innocence in the same way that white people — including these militants in Oregon — do.

2) On how kids can drink too much milk (my slightly underweight 16-year old would be an unhealthily underweight kid without his half gallon or so of whole milk per day).

3) Of course kids should eat healthy, varied diets, but I disagree with the suggestion that we shouldn’t sneak healthy foods into more kid-friendly foods because it will send the wrong messages.  It’s not always so easy to get kids to eat healthy, varied diets.

4) Key Clinton adviser Neera Tanden is no sycophant.  Donald Trump is literally unwilling to employ anybody that is not a sycophant.  That so does not bode well for somebody who wants to be president.

5) Fred Hiatt argues that Hillary Clinton is not just lucky to have Trump as her opponent, but a good candidate.

6) Dana Goldstein with a thoughtful Marshall Project piece on how to decide at what age we treat criminals as adults:

If people in their twenties are a lot like adolescents socially and biologically, should they really be considered full adults under the law? Many advocates who work directly with this population say no. “For many years, the idea of how to achieve public safety with this group was you want to lock them up, protect the community by not having them around,” said Yotam Zeira, director of external affairs for Roca, a Massachusetts organization that provides counseling, education, and job training to 17 to 24-year old male offenders. “The sad reality is that after you lock them up, nothing gets better. Public safety is not really improved. Prosecutors know they are prosecuting, again and again, the same people.”

7) No, Brexit polling does not mean Trump will pull this out.

8) Molly Ball on Trump’s graying army:

The crowd at the Donald Trump rally was a sea of gray and white. They hobbled on walkers and canes into the massive amphitheater, searching for a place to sit on the lawn.

They were old enough to remember a different America—an America that was great. A place of strength and confidence, where men were men and women were women, where people respected the flag and their elders and prayed to God. That was not the America they saw today.

“I am 72 years old, and I have seen our country absolutely fall apart,” Jim Smith, a gray-haired grandfather with an eagle on his T-shirt, told me. Smith retired to the beach after a career in the Army that took him all over the world; at one point, he worked for NATO running logistics in Bosnia. But today, he did not like what he saw all around him.

“Our economy is depleted, our military forces are depleted. We’re a country that’s in trouble,” he said, ticking off the issues: Spanish language everywhere, babies slaughtered by abortion. Muslims invading America, abetted by Democrats. “What culture do we have anymore?” he asked…

At Trump’s rallies across the country—not just in Florida, where the effect may be especially pronounced—it is common to find an abundance of the superannuated. In fact, senior citizens are his strongest demographic. In polls, voters over 65 tend to be the only age group he wins: In surveys conducted for The Atlantic by the Public Religion Research Institute, for example, Hillary Clinton led Trump in every age group under 65, but he beat her by a slight margin with those 65 or older.

In the primaries, too, Trump supporters were older, on average, than those of other Republican candidates. Despite the stereotype of the Trump supporter as a prime-aged working man, Trump’s campaign has actually been fueled primarily by support from the elderly.

This makes sense, doesn’t it? Trump’s whole candidacy is predicated on nostalgia—not just making America great, but making it great again, returning it to an imagined, prelapsarian state of greatness. (Appropriately, Trump stole the slogan from Ronald Reagan.) More so even than most Republican candidates, Trump has run a campaign aimed squarely and frankly at old people’s nostalgia, fear of danger, and anxiety about social change.

9) This local Texas election ad is indeed worthy of going viral, as it has.

10) It would not be hard to fix the problems with Obamacare.  The problem is that Republicans are entirely unwilling to.  Waldman:

Nothing demonstrates how unserious Republicans are about health care policy more clearly than this does. Their preferred reform ideas — such as letting insurers sell across state lines — are positively miniscule in comparison to the challenges the health care system presents. If they were being honest, they’d admit that their real goal is to get the government out of the business of offering or even guaranteeing coverage, and that they don’t really care how many people are uninsured. That’s not to mention the fact that they refuse to grapple with the massive destruction that repealing the ACA would cause. In fact, at this point, repealing the ACA could be more disruptive than it was to implement it in the first place, because so many changes have been made throughout the health care system and so many new people are now insured.

So let’s not forget that when news of some problem with the ACA emerges, as it did yesterday, the Republican position is always the same: This is a terrible thing, and we will fight to our last breath to stop Democrats from fixing it. Which means that the only way that the shortcomings in the ACA can be addressed — just as every major law has been tweaked in the years after it passed, including Social Security and Medicare — is to get a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress who are willing to do it.

11) Jon Bernstein on how Clinton as a transactional politician and Clinton’s “scandals”

Here’s a better theory of what’s going on, from Kevin Drum:

  1. Make a list of the entire chain of command that had some oversight over the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server. That’s going to be at least half a dozen people.

  2. Make a list of all their close family and friends. Now you’re up to a hundred people.

  3. Look for a connection between any of those people and the Clintons. Since FBI headquarters is located in Washington DC and the Clintons famously have thousands and thousands of friends, you will find a connection. I guarantee it.

  4. Write a story about it.

Something like this template has been used for 24 years, since the first Bill Clinton presidential campaign. Eventually, most people get the sense something is wrong with Hillary Clinton. After all, with so many of these stories, there must be something behind them.

And this sense makes it easier to run nonsense stories like the Wall Street Journal’s article. And so on and so on.

Both Clintons, especially Bill, are transaction-style politicians, rather than ideologues. Both of them have been willing to cut deals, to temporarily embrace positions they might not like very much, and to champion the best-available option and hope to win. I like these kinds of politicians, the Bob Doles and John Boehners and Nancy Pelosis. I’d much rather have them govern than any ideological warriors, including those ideologues I agree with on the issues.

I suspect that many people’s dislike of Hillary Clinton has to do with their discomfort with the complicated ethics of transactional politics as opposed to strict ideology-based politics…

So the woman who looks to be the next president is capable of saying one thing and doing another, and of crass political calculations. In that way, at least, she is not unlike a lot of successful U.S. presidents.

That’s no coincidence. The sorts of things presidents need to do — form coalitions and keep them together, bargain for marginal gains, and put a good face on all of it to convince both elites and voters that everything is going as planned — are the skills of transactional, hypocritical politicians. This doesn’t guarantee that Hillary Clinton, if elected, will be a good president, of course. But it’s a start.

12) SNL’s “Black Jeopardy” sketch was great and Dan Zak’s take on it was the best I’ve read.

13) Paul Waldman on how the GOP’s “politics is inherently evil” rhetoric helped give them Trump:

For the moment, let’s set aside the question of whether Republicans would really be winning with a different nominee (I think the race would be closer, but Democrats would still have the advantage). What this hypothetical alternative would bring is the skills, experience, and knowledge you gain by being active in politics, exactly what Trump lacks. He’d know how to run a proper campaign. He’d have a grasp of substantive policy issues, and know how to communicate Republican positions to voters in a persuasive way. He’d understand how not to alienate key groups of voters. He’d be in control of his emotions, able to give a speech or participate in a debate without damaging outbursts.

In other words, he’d be a politician. You may notice that no Republicans are saying this election would be a lock if only Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina had been their nominee.

Yet for years, Republicans have been running against “Washington,” an irredeemable Sodom of corruption and malfeasance. Anyone who wants to actually make government work is immediately suspect, an “insider” whose motives can only be nefarious. They look for “outsiders” who can tell voters, “Elect me because I’m not a politician, I’m a businessman.” Granted, there have been a few Democrats who have made that claim too, but Republicans are particularly attracted to it, despite the fact that it’s ludicrous on its face. If you hired a carpenter to build you a deck and you didn’t like the way it turned out, you wouldn’t say, “What we need to fix this deck is someone who’ll think outside the box. Like a computer programmer, or a librarian. Just as long as it’s not another carpenter.” No, if you were a rational person, you’d decide to get yourself a better carpenter.

14) On a related note, if Republicans really want a sane party in the future, they really need to drain the fever-swamp that is right-wing media:

Perhaps more important, however, the conservative media industrial complex successfully managed over the years to lock the Republican Party away from access to its own base. Those who consumed conservative media were taught not to trust politicians or, even worse, the mainstream media.

As a result, party leaders were beholden to a handful of individuals who controlled the conservative media and, thus, held the keys to their voters. Elected officials and candidates seeking office dared not criticize the conservative media’s most powerful members, for fear of the wrath that would ensue if they did.

The power the conservative press held allowed its members to decide who was accepted by the base and who wasn’t. True conservatives could be painted as unprincipled moderates, and, as in the case of Trump, unprincipled moderates could be painted as exactly what the base wanted.

The GOP “has appeased it, they’ve sucked up to it, they’ve been afraid of going up against it,” said Charlie Sykes, an influential conservative radio host in Wisconsin. “I think that you have seen that played out this year. Has there been any willingness on the part of any mainstream conservative to call out this alt-right media? I’m not seeing it.”

Republicans instead allowed their base to be held captive by a conservative press that moved their base further right, pushed conspiracy theories about Obama, and set unrealistic exceptions for them while in office.

15) In case you missed this NYT story based on lots of interviews with Trump.  As if you needed more evidence of what a pathetic, small, little man he is:

The intense ambitions and undisciplined behaviors of Mr. Trump have confounded even those close to him, especially as his presidential campaign comes to a tumultuous end, and he confronts the possibility of the most stinging defeat of his life. But in the more than five hours of conversations — the last extensive biographical interviews Mr. Trump granted before running for president — a powerful driving force emerges: his deep-seated fear of public embarrassment.

The recordings reveal a man who is fixated on his own celebrity, anxious about losing his status and contemptuous of those who fall from grace. They capture the visceral pleasure he derives from fighting, his willful lack of interest in history, his reluctance to reflect on his life and his belief that most people do not deserve his respect.

16) Dahlia Lithwick calls on John Roberts to speak out about the Republican calls to keep the court at eight members.

17) How bad soccer analytics made soccer a much worse game for a long time.

18) Gerald Seib with a nice essay in WSJ on Republican populism.

19) Why Russia wants to undermine confidence in US elections:

To understand Russia’s recent attacks on American democracy, one simply needs to look back to the country’s Cold War tactics.

Outpaced by American military spending and military innovation—and challenged by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—the Soviet Union sought an alternative approach to counter the U.S. Rather than match America on the battlefield, the U.S.S.R. sought to erode the U.S. from the inside out—using the “force of politics” rather than the “politics of force” to break democracy, fracturing the unity of the American populace and degrading trust in U.S. institutions. In a program known as “Active Measures,” the Soviet Union would deploy agents and provocateurs to spread propaganda amongst American dissident groups and communist causes throughout the Western world.

Cold War efforts to use propaganda to shatter the U.S. democratic system largely failed, but the internet and particularly social media have provided Russia’s “Active Measures” a renewed opportunity to foment American dissent. In contrast to the Soviet era, social media and the wealth of information available through the internet provides Russia the ability to access and disrupt American political figures and democratic institutions without setting foot in the U.S. Plus, the costs associated with hacking and social media manipulation are far lower for Russia—both in terms of money and risk—than deploying actual humans to influence U.S. elections.

20) On how Pat McCrory lost support with moderates.  I’ve been saying some version of the following quote a long time– glad to finally see it in print:

Unaffiliated voters and moderate Democrats helped propel McCrory to office in 2012, and he needed their help. There are at least 644,334 more registered Democrats than Republicans in North Carolina, and roughly a third of all voters—more than two million people—are unaffiliated. CNN exit polls show McCrory won 62 percent of independents and a whopping 15 percent of Democrats four years ago. He even won the Democratic strongholds of Mecklenburg and Wake counties. But as Steven Greene, political science professor at N.C. State University, notes, “That Pat McCrory doesn’t exist anymore.”

21) Former Wikileaks insider on the craziness that Julian Assange.

22) David Wong with a nice piece on the urban/rural divides that divide our politics.

23) I found this Vox headline unintentionally hilarious, “Why women are still voting for Trump, despite his misogyny?”  You probably also knew the answer without clicking the link.  It’s called, Party Identification.  I actually went to the article, searched on part* and decided that with no hits for partisanship or party identification, it was not worth reading.

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:

map

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.

More on the Trump/sexism connection

In order to show that the relationship with sexism is largely a Trump phenomenon, not a Republican phenomenon, Political Scientist Brian Schaffner ran some polling data from NH comparing 2016 to 2012.  The results are pretty striking:

And more info on what he did, if you are so inclined.

Racism, sexism, and support for Trump

I don’t know how I missed this Monkey Cage post from back this spring on how racial prejudice, but not authoritarianism explains support for Trump versus Clinton.  And, of course, not economic anxiety.  Only suckers in the media fall for that one.  Anyway, from Adam Enders and Steven Smallpage:

Being strongly identified with one party or ideology is tightly connected with support for one candidate or the other. Stronger Republicans and more extreme conservatives are more likely to support Trump and less likely to support Clinton. Unlike previous work that looked at how Trump supporters greatly differed from supporters of his fellow Republicans, authoritarianism doesn’t seem to predict much of the difference in support for Trump and Clinton. Trump supporters were shown to be more authoritarian than at least Marco Rubio and John Kasich supporters. But strong authoritarians only slightly favor Trump over Clinton.

That’s true for populism as well: Trump supporters are only slightly more populist than Clinton supporters. All these relationships and non-relationships hold in a multivariate setting controlling for the effects of other variables.

On the other hand, levels of racial resentment are just as strongly correlated with supporting one candidate or the other as identifying with one party or ideology over another. High levels of racial resentment are correlated with supporting Trump; low levels of racial resentment are associated with supporting Clinton. [emphases mine]

The Economist also took a look at this using their YouGov survey data:

However, one theory of Trump remains standing. Along with the questions on authoritarianism, we also requested YouGov to ask a battery of questions aimed at measuring racial resentment. Different from outright racism, this is measured by support for the idea that blacks are undeserving and clamorous for special assistance. Strongly disagreeing with the claim that “over the past few years blacks have gotten less than they deserve”, for example, reflects a high degree of racial resentment.

Racial resentment was tightly linked to Mr Trump’s supporters. These results held true when we controlled for region, race and religion, among other factors: 59% of Trump supporters in the Republican primary scored in the top quartile on racial resentment, compared with 46% of Republicans who backed other candidates and with 29% of voters overall. Those who thought that more should be done to fight terrorism were also much more likely to support him. In the Gallup study, whites who lived in racially isolated areas had a higher opinion of Mr Trump as well.

These findings cast doubt on the alarming notion that Mr Trump is propelled by a latent yearning for a strongman. Instead, they bolster the view that the candidate’s recent speeches painting a dystopian vision of black America racked by crime and unemployment were aimed not at black voters themselves, but rather at the kind of whites who tell pollsters that blacks are lazy and overindulged.

Yep.  Oh, and let’s not forget the sexism.  This is the first time I’ve seen good research on that.  And it’s important to note the key data pre-dates the Access Hollywood tapes.  To the Monkey Cage again (Carly Wayne, Nicholas Valentino and Marzia Oceno):

In June 2016, we conducted a nationally representative survey of 700 U.S. citizens. They were asked whether they agreed with statements such as “Most women interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist” and “Many women are actually seeking special favors, such as hiring policies that favor them over men, under the guise of asking for equality.” An index based on these statements is widely used in social science research on sexism and gender attitudes.

We found that sexism was strongly and significantly correlated with support for Trump, even after accounting for party identification, ideology, authoritarianism and ethnocentrism. In fact, the impact of sexism was equivalent to the impact of ethnocentrism and much larger than the impact of authoritarianism. Again, this was in June — well before the “Access Hollywood” tape was released and several women came forward to accuse Trump of unwanted touching or kissing.

Short version: you might as well print the hat and t-shirt, Racists and Sexists for Trump.

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