Tag Archives: Hillary

It Wasn’t “The Establishment”

In the wake of Joe Biden’s victories on Super Tuesday, there has been a concerted effort by Sanders’ most rabid supporters (undoubtedly abetted by some Russian ‘bots’) to accuse a nefarious (and conveniently un-defined) “Establishment” of dirty tricks.

The folks crying foul look a lot like the Trump supporters who dismiss any and all facts that contradict their fervently-held beliefs as “fake news.”

The data says otherwise.

An analysis of actual data by Thomas Edsell in the New York Times is instructive. Here’s his lede:

Four years ago, in Grant County, Oklahoma, Bernie Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton, 57.1 percent to 31.9 percent.

This year, Sanders didn’t just lose Grant County — 87.5 percent white, 76.9 percent without college degrees — to Joe Biden, his percentage of the vote fell by 41 points, to 16.1 percent.

Grant County reflects what has become a nationwide pattern in the Democratic primaries, including those held Tuesday night: Sanders’s support among white working class voters has begun to evaporate.

What happened?

Edsell mines the data. It shows that large numbers of voters in 2016 were extremely hostile to Clinton; they voted for Sanders because they detested her–not because they were part of Bernie’s “revolution.” Once she captured the nomination, a surprising number voted for Trump.

Edsell suggests that the aversion of these (mostly) male voters to Hillary was also a factor in Elizabeth Warren’s inability to do better in the primary. He cites a recent study,

“Understanding White Polarization in the 2016 Vote for President: The Sobering Role of Racism and Sexism,” by Brian Schaffner, a political scientist at Tufts, and Matthew MacWilliams and Tatishe Nteta, political scientists at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, was published in 2018 in the Political Science Quarterly.

Trump, according to the authors, deliberately put racism and sexism at the center of the campaign in order to make these issues salient and advantageous to his candidacy:

Trump’s rhetoric went far beyond targeting racial and ethnic groups; he also invoked language that was explicitly hostile toward women. These remarks were often focused directly at opponents, such as Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton, or news reporters, such as Megyn Kelly.

Edsell goes into some detail about the study, and it’s worth clicking through and reading, but his larger point was that considerable research demonstrates that a very significant percentage of non‐college‐educated whites hold sexist views.  So we shouldn’t be surprised by post-primary analyses that show non-college educated whites –many of whom voted for Sanders in 2016–breaking for Biden in significant numbers now that Sanders no longer faces Hillary.

Overall Sanders is running well below his 2016 vote share everywhere. A lot of people underestimated just how much of his support in 2016 was an anti-Clinton vote, and now that he’s not running against Clinton, those voters aren’t backing him anymore.

Other interesting data points: between 10 and 12 percent of Sanders’s 2016 primary voters voted for Trump in the general election, with an additional 12 percent either voting for a third-party candidate or not voting at all. And many weren’t Democrats; interviews with Sanders-Trump voters over the years suggest that only 35 percent of them had voted for Obama in either 2008 or 2012.

What separated Sanders-Trump voters from Sanders-Clinton voters was simple racism.

When asked how they felt about whites and blacks on a 0-100 scale, Sanders-Trump voters rated blacks 9 points less favorably than Sanders-Clinton voters. But Sanders-Trump voters rated whites 8 points more favorably.

Nate Silver has also crunched the numbers, pointing out that in 2016, Sanders won 43 percent of the primary vote against Clinton; however, if “24 percent of that 43 percent were #NeverHillary voters, that means Sanders’s real base was more like 33 percent of the overall Democratic electorate.”

If Edsell and the scholars he quotes are right about the extent and effect of latent sexism (and not-so-latent racism), it explains why Sanders’ support diminished this time around–although it doesn’t explain the significant reduction in turnout by young voters, especially in a year when Democratic primary turnout overall has skyrocketed. (One tongue-in-cheek explanation: Young people tweet. Old people vote.)

One thing, however, is clear. No matter how distasteful the evidence is to Bernie’s most passionate supporters, neither the pathetically inept DNC nor some shadowy “establishment” are responsible for his likely failure to win the nomination.

It may seem inconceivable to them that a majority of Democratic voters prefer Biden. But the data says they do.


Within Normal Parameters

Attention, Hillary haters…

I disagree with much, if not most, of Charles Murray’s scholarship, but he–and the (very) conservative publication National Review– have done something I’ve been struggling with: in a pointed essay debunking attempts to equate the Presidential candidates, they have provided language that explains the reality of November’s ballot choices.

In his response to those who assert that “Hillary is no better” or “Hillary would be even worse” Murray begins by acknowledging what most political observers know, that we have rarely if ever elected people who don’t have serious flaws. After listing several examples, he says

Candidates who lie? This is a little more complicated. Yes, many candidates for president have lied. Hillary Clinton has — with stupefying ineptitude — told and continues to tell whoppers. But Trump takes first prize for sheer bulk, averaging one factual untruth every five minutes, according to a systematic fact-check of over four and a half hours of stump speeches and press conferences….

It’s one thing when a candidate knowingly deceives the public on a few specific topics. Hillary Clinton has knowingly tried to deceive the public about her flip-flop on gay marriage and her misuse of her e-mail server. That’s bad. It should be condemned. This aspect of her character should affect one’s deliberations about whether to vote for her. It’s another thing entirely when a candidate blithely rejects Pat Moynihan’s (attributed) dictum, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts.”

Trump’s indifference to facts is an example of why he is unfit for the presidency — not dispositive in itself, but part of a pattern. That pattern is why “Hillary is even worse” misses the point. P. J. O’Rourke recently announced that he is voting for Clinton. “She’s wrong about absolutely everything,” O’Rourke said. “But she’s wrong within normal parameters!” Similarly, I am saying that Clinton may be unfit to be president, but she’s unfit within normal parameters. Donald Trump is unfit outside normal parameters.

I encourage you to click through and read the entire essay–especially if you are a political conservative who is trying to convince yourself that Donald Trump is an acceptable recipient of your vote (or a “purist” whose vote for a third party candidate is effectively a vote for Trump.)

Unfortunately, it is an increasingly rare occurrence when informed voters go to the polls enthusiastic about voting for someone. But the fact that there may be reasons to be unenthusiastic about our choices is not the same thing as saying that there isn’t a lesser of two evils.

In this case, for rational Americans, no matter what one’s opinion about Hillary Clinton, a vote for Donald Trump– the far, far greater of these “two evils”– is simply unthinkable. It is not just a vote for a dangerously ignorant narcissist, it is a vote for abandonment of the American ethos.

Thanks to Charles Murray and P.J. O’Rourke, I now have language to express my conviction  that we must recognize and act upon differing degrees of risk, and vote for the candidate whose flaws fall within normal parameters.

Well, This is Terrifying…

According to a study of voter participation in primaries thus far, Republicans are turning out in unusually high numbers, even for them.

And worse, Democrats aren’t. (Despite all the hype about “feeling the Bern,” turnout isn’t reflecting a groundswell for Bernie Sanders, and Hillary is widely considered competent but uninspiring.)

Turnout has long been the GOP’s ace-in-the-hole. According to both voter registration rolls and polling results, Democrats outnumber Republicans nationally by a comfortable margin. Granted, both gerrymandering and what has been called “residential sorting”–the fact that Democrats tend to cluster in urban areas while Republicans are more numerous in rural and suburban precincts–operate to favor Republicans. Republicans have also been much better at voter suppression tactics like Voter ID.

But Republicans’ real advantage has been turnout. For whatever reason, the party has been able to get more of its voters to the polls than the Democrats.

Scholars at the Brookings Institution have suggested that McConnell’s Supreme Court obstruction is largely about turnout.

This approach [total obstruction].. breathes fresh life and fresh fight into the conservative base and serves as a potentially unifying issue after a divisive Republican presidential primary season.

In other words, obstruction and partisanship motivate the base.

This year, if Republicans once again turn out in greater numbers than Democrats, the disparity could give us the unthinkable—President Trump.