That's what happened in 2016. Rising percentages of Hispanics and Asians and the increasing liberalism of college graduates and unmarried women were supposed to help them carry Hillary Clinton to easy victory. Instead, they were offset by sharp declines in Democratic support from white voters without college degrees in Rust Belt states from Pennsylvania through Iowa, and in Florida with its many Rust Belt retirees. And, as the New York Times's Nate Cohn argued persuasively that year, noncollege whites are a significantly larger share of the electorate than exit polls have indicated--even if their numbers are declining.
In other words, the "deplorables" stopped voting Dem. What happened? One explanation Barone hits upon is this:
... voters may feel confident that Democrats will raise taxes on the rich, but they doubt benefits will flow to them. ...And for voters with modest incomes, cultural issues may be more important than economic self-interest. The same is true for affluent supporters of abortion and gay rights.
Barone then turns to social psychologist Jonathan Haidt for additional insight:
Democrats--voters as well as politicians--suffer from cultural insularity. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues have shown that conservatives are better at understanding liberal views than the converse. That's not surprising: Whereas liberal views permeate the news media and popular culture, liberals can easily avoid exposure to conservative views. That distorts their view of the world and produces oversensitivity to leftist social-media mobs along with overconfidence in demographic trends.
I'm not sure I buy that explanation. After all, conservatives are also inundated by liberal views at virtually every turn in their daily lives--at work, in school, in "the culture," through the MSM. Why are liberals sucked in by the constant propaganda but conservatives are not--yet are able to empathetically understand where liberals are coming from, whereas liberals see only deplorables among those with conservative views?
My view is that liberalism by its nature appeals to persons who are disposed for a number of reasons to reject reality in favor of constructing their own reality. Conservatives, by contrast, tend strongly to look at the human landscape around them as governed ultimately by a human nature that is fixed and unchanging in its basic features. To seek to deconstruct and then reconstruct the human reality is a surefire way of bringing about disaster. If that sounds a bit dubious, consider some of what Jonathan Haidt has to say.
Haidt wrote a book on these topics called The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. The book came out in early 2012, which means he would have been actually writing it during the first Obama term--the time of the "bitter clingers." Haidt portrays himself as a recovering liberal of sorts--he's still a liberal, but he professes himself able to understand conservatives. What he wants to do is to convince other liberals that the "bitter clingers" aren't as deplorable as most liberals believe they are. They have some redeeming characteristics that mark them as, well, human beings. The benefit for liberals in adopting a more broadminded view of their less enlightened neighbors would be the ability to persuade conservatives to follow along, trailing a bit behind perhaps, in the pilgrimage to the progressive Promised Land.
Viewed in these terms, it's obvious that Haidt's book was a complete failure. What has happened in the few short years since the book was published is that liberals have invented more and more ways to define themselves in opposition to conservatives and to cast conservatives into the outer darkness--think of the Trans movement and so many other manifestations of ascendant liberalism. Liberals kicking conservatives while conservatives were down isn't Haidt had in mind.
It's interesting to review some of what Haidt said, not that long ago, in light of what has transpired. I came across a review of Haidt's book in the NYT by William Saletan, shortly after the book came out: Why Won’t They Listen? Here are some excerpts. See if you agree with my assessment over Barone's. For my money, Haidt fails to understand that liberals reject the very fundamental basis for his whole argument--the idea that there is such a reality as "human nature." Instead, for the liberal their one principle is that everyone has a "right" to invent their own reality. Or as Justice Scalia put it, their own "sweet mystery of life." Just ask yourself--when was the last time you heard any prominent liberal pundit use that phrase: human nature? And yet Saletan and Haidt seem to take it for granted. I think they're missing something fundamental and, in contrast with Barone, I don't think "cultural insularity" tells anything like the whole story.
I fail to see any middle ground between the two views. Further, one view--the conservative view--is based on reflection upon reality, while the other is based on ideological presuppositions that fly in the face of reality, as Haidt appears to basically understand.
You’re smart. You’re liberal. You’re well informed. You think conservatives are narrow-minded. You can’t understand why working-class Americans vote Republican. You figure they’re being duped. You’re wrong.
This isn’t an accusation from the right. It’s a friendly warning from Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia who, until 2009, considered himself a partisan liberal. In “The Righteous Mind,” Haidt seeks to enrich liberalism, and political discourse generally, with a deeper awareness of human nature. Like other psychologists who have ventured into political coaching, such as George Lakoff and Drew Westen, Haidt argues that people are fundamentally intuitive, not rational. If you want to persuade others, you have to appeal to their sentiments. But Haidt is looking for more than victory. He’s looking for wisdom. That’s what makes “The Righteous Mind” well worth reading. Politics isn’t just about manipulating people who disagree with you. It’s about learning from them.
To the question many people ask about politics — Why doesn’t the other side listen to reason? — Haidt replies: We were never designed to listen to reason. When you ask people moral questions, time their responses and scan their brains, their answers and brain activation patterns indicate that they reach conclusions quickly and produce reasons later only to justify what they’ve decided. ...
The worldviews Haidt discusses may differ from yours. They don’t start with the individual. They start with the group or the cosmic order. They exalt families, armies and communities. They assume that people should be treated differently according to social role or status — elders should be honored, subordinates should be protected. They suppress forms of self-expression that might weaken the social fabric. They assume interdependence, not autonomy. They prize order, not equality.
These moral systems aren’t ignorant or backward. Haidt argues that they’re common in history and across the globe because they fit human nature. ...
You don’t have to go abroad to see these ideas. You can find them in the Republican Party. Social conservatives see welfare and feminism as threats to responsibility and family stability. The Tea Party hates redistribution because it interferes with letting people reap what they earn. Faith, patriotism, valor, chastity, law and order — these Republican themes touch all six moral foundations, whereas Democrats, in Haidt’s analysis, focus almost entirely on care and fighting oppression. This is Haidt’s startling message to the left: When it comes to morality, conservatives are more broad-minded than liberals. ...
... He chides psychologists who try to “explain away” conservatism, treating it as a pathology. Conservatism thrives because it fits how people think, and that’s what validates it. Workers who vote Republican aren’t fools. In Haidt’s words, they’re “voting for their moral interests.”
One of these interests is moral capital — norms, practices and institutions, like religion and family values, that facilitate cooperation by constraining individualism. Toward this end, Haidt applauds the left for regulating corporate greed. But he worries that in other ways, liberals dissolve moral capital too recklessly. Welfare programs that substitute public aid for spousal and parental support undermine the ecology of the family. Education policies that let students sue teachers erode classroom authority. Multicultural education weakens the cultural glue of assimilation. Haidt agrees that old ways must sometimes be re-examined and changed. He just wants liberals to proceed with caution and protect the social pillars sustained by tradition.
Another aspect of human nature that conservatives understand better than liberals, according to Haidt, is parochial altruism, the inclination to care more about members of your group — particularly those who have made sacrifices for it —than about outsiders. Saving Darfur, submitting to the United Nations and paying taxes to educate children in another state may be noble, but they aren’t natural. What’s natural is giving to your church, helping your P.T.A. and rallying together as Americans against a foreign threat.
How far should liberals go toward incorporating these principles? Haidt says the shift has to be more than symbolic, but he doesn’t lay out a specific policy agenda. Instead, he highlights broad areas of culture and politics — family and assimilation, for example — on which liberals should consider compromise. He urges conservatives to entertain liberal ideas in the same way. The purpose of such compromises isn’t just to win elections. It’s to make society and government fit human nature.
The hardest part, Haidt finds, is getting liberals to open their minds. Anecdotally, he reports that when he talks about authority, loyalty and sanctity, many people in the audience spurn these ideas as the seeds of racism, sexism and homophobia. And in a survey of 2,000 Americans, Haidt found that self-described liberals, especially those who called themselves “very liberal,” were worse at predicting the moral judgments of moderates and conservatives than moderates and conservatives were at predicting the moral judgments of liberals. Liberals don’t understand conservative values. And they can’t recognize this failing, because they’re so convinced of their rationality, open-mindedness and enlightenment.
Many of Haidt’s proposals are vague, insufficient or hard to implement. And that’s O.K. He just wants to start a conversation about integrating a better understanding of human nature — our sentiments, sociality and morality — into the ways we debate and govern ourselves. At this, he succeeds. It’s a landmark contribution to humanity’s understanding of itself.
But to whom is Haidt directing his advice? If intuitions are unreflective, and if reason is self-serving, then what part of us does he expect to regulate and orchestrate these faculties? This is the unspoken tension in Haidt’s book. As a scientist, he takes a passive, empirical view of human nature. He describes us as we have been, expecting no more. Based on evolution, he argues, universal love is implausible: “Parochial love . . . amplified by similarity” and a “sense of shared fate . . . may be the most we can accomplish.” But as an author and advocate, Haidt speaks to us rationally and universally, as though we’re capable of something greater. He seems unable to help himself, as though it’s in his nature to call on our capacity for reason and our sense of common humanity — and in our nature to understand it.
UPDATE: You've all seen those videos where reporters interview liberal college students and feed them quotes from prominent Dems but attribute the quotes to Trump. Still, this latest example comes at a convenient time, to drive home Haidt's point:
Liberal students reflexively reject Trump quotes, even though they're from Democrats