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.

Too good

At a Trump rally today:


Map of the day

Survey Monkey now lets you make any electoral college map you want based on demographic groups (e.g., college-educated whites, Millennials, old people, etc.) in their state-by-state polling data.  So much fun.  For your viewing pleasure, here’s Millennials:

Here's what the Electoral College map would look like if only millennials voted

And white Millennials:

Here's what the Electoral College map would look like if only millennials voted

This was entirely predictable

Ron Brownstein tweeted today:

Uhhh, yep.  And from the January article:

Castellanos acknowledges Trump would begin the general election as an underdog against Hillary Clinton. But Castellanos believes Trump would move aggressively to court the voters now dubious of him—and could enjoy more success than most people expect. “He will pivot,” said Castellanos. “I would not be surprised if in the general election we would see a very different Trump. … Has he hurt himself with Hispanics, minorities, women, Democrats? Of course. Has he irreparably lost his ability to change how he is understood by them? Absolutely not.”

But many other analysts inside and outside the GOP are skeptical that Trump could substantially improve his image in a general election because many of the same policy positions and combative personality traits that are attracting more Republicans are precisely the factors alienating other voters.

Citing such Trump proposals as mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S., Emory University’s Abramowitz says, “The reason he is doing better among Republicans is that his message resonates with a large share of the Republican electorate; they agree with what he is proposing. But outside of the Republican electorate those are things that are quite unpopular. So I don’t think there is much room for growth in his standing among [other] groups at all.” [emphasis mine]


The changing demographics of the parties

Love this feature from Pew looking at the changing relationships between demographics and partisanship since 1992.  Age, race, and education and how they relate to partisanship have all undergone substantial changes.  There’s a number of ways of thinking about this, but I especially like the approach of looking at what percentage of a party’s supporters come from each particular demographic group.  Short version: Republicans have become much more white (actually less white in absolute terms, but relative to the country as a whole, more so), older, and more reliant on less-educated voters (doesn’t look so dramatic as country has become more educated).  Meanwhile, pretty much opposite changes among Democrats.  These charts nicely capture it:

And, put these together, and you get this dramatic chart:

No great insights here from me, but fair to say, if you want to understand America’s changing partisan politics, understanding the changes in these charts is certainly important.

%d bloggers like this: