Chart of the day: expertise version

Via John Pfaff (a genuine expert on criminal justice):

Hmmm, I think I’m not an hazard, because I’m pretty sure I do know some things.  That said, I am very much aware of how much I don’t know.

Fox Evangelicalism

Love this column from Amy Sullivan on the Fox-ification of Evangelical Christianity.  Quite the indictment:

To hear the Christian right tell it, President Trump should be a candidate for sainthood — that is, if evangelicals believed in saints.

“Never in my lifetime have we had a Potus willing to take such a strong outspoken stand for the Christian faith like Donald Trump,” tweeted Franklin Graham, the son of the evangelist Billy Graham. The Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress sees a divine hand at work: “God intervened in our election and put Donald Trump in the Oval Office for a great purpose.”…

But what those critics don’t recognize is that the nationalistic, race-baiting, fear-mongering form of politics enthusiastically practiced by Mr. Trump and Roy Moore in Alabama is central to a new strain of American evangelicalism. This emerging religious worldview — let’s call it “Fox evangelicalism” — is preached from the pulpits of conservative media outlets like Fox News. It imbues secular practices like shopping for gifts with religious significance and declares sacred something as worldly and profane as gun culture

Fox evangelicals don’t back Mr. Trump despite their beliefs, but because of them…

The power of that message may explain the astonishing findings of a survey released this month by LifeWay Research, a Christian organization based in Nashville. LifeWay’s researchers developed questions meant to get at both the way Americans self-identify religiously and their theological beliefs. What they discovered was that while one-quarter of Americans consider themselves to be “evangelical,” less than half of that group actually holds traditional evangelical beliefs. For others, “evangelical” effectively functions as a cultural label, unmoored from theological meaning…

This worldview is familiar to anyone who has spent time watching Fox News, where every day viewers are confronted with threats to their way of life. It’s also profoundly un-Christian. One of the most consistent messages of the Bible is the exhortation “Do not be afraid!” Before young evangelicals can read, we memorize verses reminding us to “be strong and courageous” and “trust in the Lord.” “Fear,” says Mr. Schenck in the documentary, “should not be a controlling element in the life of a Christian.”

Fear and distrust of outsiders — in conflict with numerous biblical teachings to “welcome the stranger” — also explain Fox evangelicals’ strong support for the Trump administration’s efforts to bar refugees and restrict travel to the United States from several majority-Muslim nations. After Mr. Trump’s initial executive orders during his first week in office, more than 100 evangelical leaders, including the head of the National Association of Evangelicals, published a full-page ad in The Washington Post denouncing the refugee ban and urging the president to reconsider. But those leaders didn’t speak for most white evangelicals, three-quarters of whom told Pew pollsters they supported the refugee and travel bans…

The result is a malleable religious identity that can be weaponized not just to complain about department stores that hang “Happy Holidays” banners, but more significantly, in support of politicians like Mr. Trump or Mr. Moore — and of virtually any policy, so long as it is promoted by someone Fox evangelicals consider on their side of the culture war.

“It explains how much evangelicals have moved the goal post,” said Mr. Martin. “If there’s not a moral theology or ethic to it, but it’s about playing for the right team, you can do anything and still be on the right side.”

Damn.  Good stuff. Any why these “Evangelicals” who seem far more interested in following Bill O’Reilly than anything Jesus taught are so infuriating.

Photo of the day

From an Atlantic photos of the year gallery:

A cat tries to find dry ground around an apartment complex after it was inundated with water following Hurricane Harvey on August 30, 2017, in Houston, Texas. 

Scott Olson / Getty

The feminism divide

So, after discussing feminism all semester in my Gender & Politics class and seeing some great new questions on the matter in the 2016 American National Election Studies, the 2018 research agenda is going to be looking at the politics of feminism.  Political Scientist Leonie Huddy has already done some really interesting work based on recent data, and it is nicely summarized and augmented with other research, in this excellent Peter Beinart article looking at the feminism divide in modern politics:

This September, Leonie Huddy and Johanna Willmann of Stony Brook University presented a paper at the American Political Science Association. (The paper is not yet published, but Huddy sent me a copy.) In it, they charted the effects of feminism on partisanship over time. Holding other factors constant, they found that between 2004 and 2016, support for feminism—belief in the existence of “societal discrimination against women, and the need for greater female political power”—grew increasingly correlated with support for the Democratic Party. [emphases mine] The correlation rose earlier among feminist women, but by 2016, it had also risen among feminist men. A key factor, the authors speculated, was Hillary Clinton. A liberal woman’s emergence as a serious presidential contender in 2008, and then as her party’s nominee eight years later, drove feminists of both genders toward the Democratic Party and anti-feminists of both genders toward the GOP.

In other words, Clinton, along with Donald Trump, has done for gender what Barack Obama did for race. Obama’s election, UCLA political scientist Michael Tesler has argued, pushed whites who exhibited more racial resentment into the Republican Party and whites who exhibited less into the Democratic Party. Something similar is now happening around gender. But what’s driving the polarization is less gender identity—do you identify as a man or a woman—than gender attitudes: Do you believe that women and men should be more equal. Democrats aren’t becoming the party of women. They’re becoming the party of feminists…

Which helps explain why female Republicans express far less support for feminism than even male Democrats. Earlier this month, the research firm PerryUndem found that Democratic men were 25 points more likely than Republican women to say sexism remains a “big” or “somewhat” big problem. According to October polling data sorted for me by the Pew Research Center, Democratic men were 31 points more likely than Republican women to say the “country has not gone far enough on women’s rights.” In both surveys, the gender gap within parties was small: Republican women and Republican men answered roughly the same way as did Democratic women and Democratic men. But the gap between parties—between both Democratic men and women and Republican men and women—was large…

Over the decades, a similar divergence has occurred in Congress. Syracuse University’s Danielle Thompson notes that, in the 1980s, “little difference existed between Republican and Democratic women [members of Congress] in their advocacy of women’s rights.” In the 1990s, Republican women members were still noticeably more moderate than their male GOP colleagues. That created a significant degree of ideological affinity between women politicians across the aisle. Now it’s gone. There are many more Democratic than Republican women in Congress. But, Thompson’s research shows, the Republican women are today just as conservative as their male GOP colleagues.

Or, as Huddy succinctly put it, we don’t have a gender gap, we have a feminism gap.  Of course, we do have a gender gap because women are quite more likely to identify as feminists (among other reasons for this gap), but there’s a solid case to be made that it is not because they are women, per se, but women concerned about women’s rights and role in society, that they are more likely to be liberal and Democratic.

Anyway, given the times we are in, look for this “feminism” gap to become even more important in contemporary politics.

The future of abortion politics

So, oddly enough, I’ve been thinking a lot about the politics of abortion lately.  (Okay, not that oddly, I did just grade a final exam question on the matter).  But what’ts really gotten me thinking about it is Jones vs. Moore.  I saw more than one comment that Jones would have won in a landslide if he were pro-life.  And when one considers that, ostensibly, the only thing keeping many working-class Republicans hanging on as the party ignores their actual needs, is their antipathy to abortion (I think that’s wrong– hello, racial resentment!– but certainly an argument I’ve seen made).  And Roy Moore’s campaign in, in the end, seemed to rely almost completely on an argument that he was pro-life and Jones was a baby-killer.  That said, Christina Cauterucci brings some polling data to make a strong argument that Jones remaining steadfastly pro-choice was only a minor liability, at worst:

There’s also evidence that some Alabamians with extreme anti-abortion views weighed that part of their political identity against the other issues and chose Jones anyway. Exit polls found that 34 percent of voters who thought abortion “should be illegal in most cases” voted for Jones, as did 18 percent of those who thought abortion should be completely banned. Since party affiliation aligns closely with abortion views in the U.S., a Democrat could not expect to do much better than that among anti-choice voters, and Jones didn’t have to compromise his support for abortion rights to win them.

This isn’t to say that Moore’s vocal opposition to abortion rights didn’t help him at all. It very well might have motivated some people who are otherwise unenthused by politics—or who may have stayed home rather than vote for an alleged abuser of teenage girls—to get to the polls. But a large majority of Alabama Republicans (71 percent!) straight-up didn’t believe Moore’s accusers. And Jones’ refusal to play by the GOP’s rules and moderate his views on abortion made it possible for progressives to feel good about backing him with their money and volunteer hours. Black voters, who support abortion rights by wider margins than whites, played a major role in Jones’ victory by turning out at rates approaching 77 percent of last year’s presidential election. Ninety-six percent of them voted for Jones, in spite of pro-Moore ads that told them “a vote for Doug Jones is a vote for more black abortions.” Those ad producers probably didn’t know that a majority of black Protestants, who make up about 16 percent of the Alabama electorate, support abortion rights.

As, Cauterucci points out, a Democrat adopting pro-life positions is not at all without costs, as it will certainly harm that politician with the liberal basis.  And quite possibly more than he/she would gain by attracting additional pro-life votes.

All this by way of saying, it really got me thinking if there’s any hope for change in this dynamic in the future.  Obviously, the gay rights ship has sailed and much of the right has largely given in on that.  One would think that if we just moved beyond abortion, this could be a huge boon do Democrats.  But abortion attitudes seem to have been remarkably static.  Here’s a nice figure from a very nice Pew summary of the issue:

Whoa.  That’s not going anywhere.

And here’s the partisan breakdown.  You’d never know this if you looked at the near monolithic pro-life Republicans in office and pro-choice Democrats.

Anyway, that said, a couple additional charts make me wonder about the future.  First, young people are more supportive of abortion rights and older people are less supportive.  One of these groups will become more politically prominent and the other group will die off.  Of course, people could become more anti-abortion as they age, but I’m not aware of any research that suggests that is, or would be, the case.

And, lastly, here we go by education.

As we know, the public is also becoming gradually more educated.

So, combine a population where we see fewer HS or less degrees and the 18-29’s age into politics more, and it suggests that, quite possibly, abortion politics could move in a decidedly liberal direction.  What else to conservatives have to hang onto after that?  Based on Trump, my fear is white enthocentrism, but changing demographics are doing Republicans no favors on that either.

Like pretty much everything, it comes down to “we’ll see.”  On the bright side, when we do, I’ll get to discuss it with my classes and blog about it here.

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