This one thing

explains so much of American politics, but is so unknown or misunderstood by so many (primarily on the right).  There’s a whole twitter thing here where Kevin Kruse provides further evidence that Dinesh D’Souza is a complete moron, but Han’s Noel’s singular point is key:


The changing politics of immigration

This from two really smart PS professor on the politics of immigration is really good:

Contrary to received wisdom, however, the immigration issue did not play to Mr. Trump’s advantage nearly as much as commonly believed. According to our analysis of national survey data from the American National Election Studies (a large, representative sample of the population of the United States), Hillary Clinton did better in the election than she would have if immigration had not been so prominent an issue. In fact, a liberal backlash seems to have contributed to Mrs. Clinton’s victory in the popular vote count.

We estimated whether voters supported the Democratic or Republican candidate on the basis of their preferred level of immigration — “increase,” “keep the same,” “decrease” — taking into account the voter’s party identification, ideology, gender, age and level of education.

We found that Mr. Trump did only slightly better than his Republican predecessors among anti-immigration whites. Among pro-immigration whites, however, Mrs. Clinton far outpaced John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. For example, Mr. Obama received the votes of 50 percent of pro-immigration whites in 2012, whereas Mrs. Clinton won the votes of 72 percent of that group in 2016 — a 22-point difference.

Among anti-immigration whites, by contrast, Mr. Trump improved only marginally on Mitt Romney’s showing, 79 percent to 71 percent. Perhaps most important — given the popularity of the “keep the same” position — is that immigration moderates swung 7 percentage points in Mrs. Clinton’s favor (Mr. Obama received 38 percent to Mrs. Clinton’s 45). The 2016 comparisons with 2008 and 2004 are highly similar.

We can’t know whether this asymmetry across elections is a function of Mr. Trump’s nativism, Mrs. Clinton’s inclusive pronouncements about immigration or both. What we can say is that after Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton repeatedly clashed over the issue during the course of the campaign, Mr. Trump’s electoral gain — relative to the percentages Mr. Romney, John McCain and George W. Bush received on the issue — paled against Mrs. Clinton’s gains over Mr. Kerry and Mr. Obama…

Second, 2016 marked a key change in rhetorical strategy among Republican presidential candidates. From 1968, when Richard Nixon first exploited his “Southern strategy” to attract resentful whites through code words like “law and order” and “states’ rights,” to 2012, when Mr. Romney ran ads claiming that Mr. Obama wanted to allow welfare recipients to collect paychecks without having to look for work, messages like this were conveyed implicitly, in what have come to be called “dog whistles,” with plausible deniability that they had anything to do with race.

In 2016 (and 2017 and 2018), Mr. Trump dispensed with dog whistles in favor of a more explicit strategy of cultural confrontation, which prompted — and may continue to prompt — a more powerful liberal counterreaction.


Yes, Blue wave?

So, I had been meaning to write this morning’s post about the midterms for a week, but didn’t get around to it till last night.  If I had waited till today, I could’ve included David Leonhardt’s most recent column that makes the case that, things really are looking quite good for Democrats, based on the analysis of political scientist, Rachel Bitcofer:

President Trump’s approval ratings have risen since the beginning of the year, and the Democrats’ polling advantage for the midterm elections has shrunk. It’s enough to create major anxiety for anyone who’s alarmed by the Trump presidency.

But Rachel Bitecofer, a political scientist with a historical bent, has some advice: Calm down. The Democrats’ chances to retake the House remain extremely high, she writes in a new piece, and those chances haven’t fallen much in recent months.

Bitecofer argues that the conventional wisdom about the midterms is influenced too much by polls of all registered voters. Come November, many of them won’t actually vote. In particular, reliable Republicans are likely to vote at a low rate, and reliable Democrats at a relatively high one — as is normal when a Republican occupies the White House. As for swing voters, they don’t matter as much because there aren’t a huge number of them in today’s highly partisan atmosphere.

“Keep in mind, midterm elections are low turnout elections,” Bitecofer writes in a post for the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University in Virginia, where she is the assistant director. “And what drives turnout at the margins in off year and midterm elections is negative partisanship fueled by being locked out of power in Washington, particularly the big, white house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” It has happened in the last three midterm elections — in 2010 and 2014 to the Republicans’s benefit, and in 2006 to Democrats’ benefit…

“Biggest risk for Dems is poor strategic messaging. Only a Democrat would look at a polarizing POTUS who polls in the low 40s and decide not to make him a centerpiece of their messaging. Obama was actually popular when the Rs deployed that strategy in 2010 and 2014. You want to tap into that referendum effect as much as possible.”

Of course, the fact that I want to believe this means that I should apply additional skepticism.  That said, I think Bitcofer makes good points, especially about polls of all registered voters and the midterm impact of negative partisanship.  We’ll see in November.

2018 = 1994?

So, I was thinking recently that with the economy pretty well humming along (believe me, I know there are pretty deep underlying structural problems and ever-rising inequality), and no major foreign conflicts, that the time does not seem especially ripe for a wave election.  The Republicans in 2010 benefited hugely from that fact that our great recession recovery still had a long way to go.  In 2006, Democrats benefited from an unpopular war.

So, why should people be angry and vote out Republicans?  Well, because Trump is enough.  There’s actually not a bad historical analogy for this in 1994.  There was a lot going on in 1994 (it so was not about “The Contract with America”), but, the short version is we had relative peace and prosperity, but an unpopular at the time Bill Clinton.  Unpopular president and unified government is really good for the out-party.

Alas, here’s our 2018 problem as summed up by Isaac Chotiner’s tweet:

And Sean Trende (who was among the smartest prognosticators of 2016) says Blue Wave, maybe not so much.

I still think the Democrats will end up taking back the House, despite the huge Republican bias of the present districts, because Democrats are so damn energized and that’s not going away.  I don’t know that we’ll set an actual record for youth turnout in an midterm, but would not surprise me at all if we do.  Trump’s got a lot of chickens out there looking to come home to roost, and some of them surely will this Fall.  I’m going to semi-confidently predict he’ll be notably less popular in November than he is now.

Anyway, it’s far from a guarantee of a Blue Wave, but I think overall conditions are still pretty good for a very good Democratic year and a Democratic House.  And for the future of our democracy, I sure as hell hope so.

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