Heritage = hate

I’m sure you’ve heard the “it’s not hate, it’s heritage” line about flying the Confederate Flag.  Of course, the heritage is one of hate and white supremacy.  I really enjoyed reading about this new research from Logan Strother, Spencer Piston, and Thomas Ogorzalek,  showing that those who most support the Confederate flag, actually know least about Confederate history/heritage:

In an effort to answer this question of regional pride or racial prejudice with data—rather than the heated rhetoric that typifies the debate—we analyzed two surveys of white Southerners: one of residents of Georgia, the other of residents of South Carolina. Our study is the first to rigorously compare the relative influence of racial prejudice and purportedly non-racist Southern pride on support for the Confederate battle emblem. We contend that if some whites support the flag because it represents a legacy in which they feel pride, then we should expect those people also to be knowledgeable about Confederate Civil War history. That is, for pride in Confederate heritage to be meaningful, a person would first have to know something about that history. On the other hand, if racial prejudice is the key reason that whites support Confederate symbols, then we should see that racially prejudiced attitudes are more widely held among white supporters of the Confederate flag than among its white opponents… [emphases mine]

Figure 2 shows the key findings. The more questions about Southern Civil War history that a participant answered correctly, the less likely it was that the person favors the Confederate flag. Indeed, people who failed to answer any question correctly (i.e. could not name a single Civil War battle, nor identify William Tecumseh Sherman) were more than twice as likely to favor the Confederate flag than were people who got all of the questions correct. Importantly, we found that this relationship holds even after statistically controlling for a number of factors, such as education, age, and political ideology. In sum, we find little support for the “heritage” argument in our survey of white Georgians.

And the key figure is here:

Figure 2. Knowledge of Confederate history and support for the Confederate flag among white Georgians

Of course, I’m sure you are no more surprised than I am.  Still, it is nice to see the biases one has (i.e., confederate flag lovers are basically racist) confirmed by solid social science.

The ultimate health care lie by the numbers

If there’s one thing that’s annoying about health care (okay, there’s a lot of things) it is how the Republicans have been lying so brazenly it’s about how the ACA was passed in a secretive process.  You only had to be alive in 2009-10 to realize that’s not true in the least.  Yet, they keep pretending otherwise.  The NYT runs the numbers and compares to the Republican process, which, of course, has been extraordinarily secretive:

And, as long as we’re on the subject of lies, no, the ACA exchanges are not in a hopeless death spiral.  That’s a pretty big lie.  Paul Waldman:

They have to start by acknowledging that despite their cries that the ACA is in a death spiral, that it’s a disaster and that its implosion is imminent, things on the individual market in fact are not as bad as you might think. Here’s a report out today from the Kaiser Family Foundation on how the markets are doing so far this year:

Early results from 2017 suggest the individual market is stabilizing and insurers in this market are regaining profitability. Insurer financial results show no sign of a market collapse. First quarter premium and claims data from 2017 support the notion that 2017 premium increases were necessary as a one-time market correction to adjust for a sicker-than-expected risk pool. Although individual market enrollees appear on average to be sicker than the market pre-ACA, data on hospitalizations in this market suggest that the risk pool is stable on average and not getting progressively sicker as of early 2017. Some insurers have exited the market in recent years, but others have been successful and expanded their footprints, as would be expected in a competitive marketplace.

In other words, insurers are making profits in the individual market, which means that they’ll keep offering plans and won’t have to raise premiums as much as some have feared.

But what about all those places where there’s only one insurer, or even where the last insurer has pulled out? Funny thing about that: It turns out, as Brian Dew and Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research found when they examined the data, that it’s almost entirely a phenomenon of Republican states. In states controlled by Democrats — which accepted the expansion of Medicaid and worked to make their exchanges function properly — the individual market is quite healthy. It’s only in those places where the state governments have been trying to sabotage the ACA from the beginning that they have screwed over their own constituents and left them with few insurance options.

Waldman follows with a plea for Republicans to actually do the right thing and work with Democrats to fix the marketplaces in the ways they need fixing and, you know, help people.  Not holding my breath for that.

It’s all about race

Political scientists Sean McElwee and Jason McDaniel went right to work on the latest ANES data of the 2016 election and posted their analysis in a May article in the Nation.  I meant to link it then, but, safe to say the issue of race in American politics isn’t exactly going anywhere.  Anyway, here’s a few key charts:


And, of course, it’s not actually about economic anxiety at all:


 In our models, racial attitudes towards blacks and immigration are the key factors associated with support for Trump. The way that these variables impact Trump support can be seen in the charts below. Both racial resentment and black influence animosity are significant predictors of Trump support among white respondents, independent of partisanship, ideology, education levels, and the other factors included in the model. The results indicate a probability of Trump support higher than 60 percent for an otherwise typical white voter who scores at the highest levels on either anti-black racial resentment or anti-black influence animosity. This compares to less than 30 percent chance for a typical white voter with below average scores on either of the two measures anti-black attitudes. There is approximately a 10 percent probability of a Trump vote for an otherwise typical white voter at the lowest levels of racial resentment.

racial animus

 The one-two punch of Obama’s presidency and Trump’s candidacy sent a clear signal to voters what the parties stood for: diversity on one side, resentment on the other. Trump built upon a decades-long campaign to erase support for the safety net by racializing government programs but extended it further by openly demonizing people of color. Graphs from political scientist Thomas Wood show this relationship clearly: voters are increasingly sorted along the lines of racial resentment. At the same time, the role of income has been twisted: “While the wealthy are usually most likely to vote for the Republican, they didn’t this time; and while the poor are usually less likely to vote for the Republican, they were unusually supportive of Trump.”

Meanwhile, Thomas Edsall had a lengthy post last month that covered a lot of the same ground, with a focus on how racial resentment is part of a broader international context of globalist vs. nationalist leading to partisan realignments:

By now it has become quite clear that conservative parties in Europe and the United States have been gaining strength from white voters who have been mobilized around issues related to nationalism — resistance to open borders and to third-world immigration. In the United States, this development has been exacerbated by ongoing conservative recruitment on issues of race that has reinforced opposition to immigration. On the liberal side, the Democratic Party and the center-left European parties have been allied in favor of globalization, if we define globalization as receptivity to open borders, the expansion of local and nationalistic perspectives and support for a less rigid social order and for liberal cultural, immigration and trade policies. In recent decades, these parties, both in Europe and in the United States have begun to include and reflect the views of large numbers of well-educated elites — relatively affluent knowledge or creative class workers — in alliance with predominantly nonwhite minority constituencies of the less well-off…

What we are seeing now is the replacement of class-based politics, a trend apparent in the United States and Europe. This gives us a more racialized and xenophobic politics, on one hand, and a politics capitalizing on increasing levels of education and open-mindedness in the electorate on the other. If the building of a viable left coalition is possible, it is likely to require some thoughtful and humane co-optation in the form of deference to our limits and boundaries.


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