Thursday, March 4, 2021

This Dem Has Been Reading Voting Data

I lifted this lengthy quote from a NYMag interview of David Shor from Steve Sailer. The title of the interview is David Shor on Why Trump Was Good for the GOP and How Dems Can Win in 2022. The part I've selected is focused mostly on Why Trump Was Good For The GOP. 

I was reading and thinking about this when Tom Verso commented at Have Dems Been Reading The Polls?:

The Democrats would be worried if they thought that the Republicans will use the issues in these polls to challenge them.

But, we have a de facto (de jure?) one party government, so we can expect the Republicans to run on cliché platitudes.

Consider the speech of the Govener of South Dakota at the CPAC convention. 

It was all about “Love of liberty” and the ‘Founding Fathers” and the “Declaration of Independence”. 

Not one of the poll items cited above was a part of her speech; unless she picked up on them after I stopped listening about 2/3 of the way through. 

That capsulized in a lot of ways exactly what Shor is talking about. It also suggested what I've been talking about, that the GOP needs to move beyond Classical Liberal ideology to a philosophy that empowers Trumpian populism. Trump himself did that by appealing to those who still have a lingering cultural Catholic sensibility--which appeals to religious voters of many stripes, as well as to generally cultural conservatives. And so I responded:

Good point, Tom. Those are "platitudes" that tend to appeal to ideological Libertarians--Classical Liberals. The appeal there is to so called "movement conservatives." Those are not, in fact, Trumpian talking points and those weren't the talking points that got Trump elected or got him that huge increase in votes-including from minority voters.

Read these excerpts from Shor with those observations in mind. My takeaway is that what will empower the GOP is not more Libertarian slop about liberty as the major talking points--although I hasten to add that personal freedom does play into the conservative mix. A not very well understood factor in the Trump phenomenon is his pointed attacks on Prog/PC ideology. Conservatives need to follow Trump down that road, while avoiding the ideological Scylla and Charybdis of overt Libertarianism (a turnoff to many women and minorities as well as thinking conservatives) and the inchoate squishiness of Compassionate Conservatism. They need something masculine that also appeals to women. I say the answer is a populism that frames for the masses the realistic philosophy of human nature that is the Western tradition. A perennial philosophy of human thriving and happiness.


Over the last four years, white liberals have become a larger and larger share of the Democratic Party. There’s a narrative on the left that the Democrats’ growing reliance on college-educated whites is pulling the party to the right (Matt Karp had an essay on this recently). But I think that’s wrong. Highly educated people tend to have more ideologically coherent and extreme views than working-class ones. We see this in issue polling and ideological self-identification. College-educated voters are way less likely to identify as moderate. So as Democrats have traded non-college-educated voters for college-educated ones, white liberals’ share of voice and clout in the Democratic Party has gone up. And since white voters are sorting on ideology more than nonwhite voters, we’ve ended up in a situation where white liberals are more left wing than Black and Hispanic Democrats on pretty much every issue: taxes, health care, policing, and even on racial issues or various measures of “racial resentment.” So as white liberals increasingly define the party’s image and messaging, that’s going to turn off nonwhite conservative Democrats and push them against us.

White liberals do give more progressive responses across a wide battery of traditional racial resentment questions like, “Do you believe that the reason why African Americans can’t get ahead is due to discrimination or due to other factors?” …

But I think the split on those abstract questions captures something real. In liberal circles, racism has been defined in highly ideological terms. And this theoretical perspective on what racism means and the nature of racial inequality have become a big part of the group identity of college-educated Democrats, white and nonwhite. But it’s not necessarily how most nonwhite, working-class people understand racism.

Q. How do they differ?

A. I don’t think I can answer that comprehensively. But if you look at the concrete questions, white liberals are to the left of Hispanic Democrats, but also of Black Democrats, on defunding the police and those ideological questions about the source of racial inequity.

Regardless, even if a majority of nonwhite people agreed with liberals on all of these issues, the fundamental problem is that Democrats have been relying on the support of roughly 90 percent of Black voters and 70 percent of Hispanic voters. So if Democrats elevate issues or theories that a large minority of nonwhite voters reject, it’s going to be hard to keep those margins. Because these issues are strongly correlated with ideology. And Black conservatives and Hispanic conservatives don’t actually buy into a lot of these intellectual theories of racism. They often have a very different conception of how to help the Black or Hispanic community than liberals do. And I don’t think we can buy our way out of this trade-off. Most voters are not liberals. If we polarize the electorate on ideology — or if nationally prominent Democrats raise the salience of issues that polarize the electorate on ideology — we’re going to lose a lot of votes.

Q. Don’t these ideological self-descriptions carry similar definitional problems as “racial resentment”? Most voters may not identify as liberals. But judging from opinion polls, most voters do reject the lion’s share of the conservative movement’s governing priorities. In Congress, a “conservative” is typically a lawmaker who supports tax cuts for the rich and funding cuts for Medicaid, while opposing a higher minimum wage and another round of stimulus checks. Those are all extremely unpopular positions.

A. Absolutely.

… But there is still a large universe of policy questions — mostly economic but not exclusively — where a large majority of the public agrees with us. A $15 minimum wage polls above 60 percent; that couldn’t happen without a lot of “moderates” and “conservatives” supporting the policy.

Comment: Is it possible that the minimum wage issue should be understood by conservatives in the context of the hollowing out of American industry? That more workers are being consigned to minimum wage jobs without real hope of advancement?


In test after test that we’ve done with Hispanic voters, talking about immigration commonly sparks backlash: Asking voters whether they lean toward Biden and Trump, and then emphasizing the Democratic position on immigration, often caused Biden’s share of support among Latino respondents to decline. Meanwhile, Democratic messaging about investing in schools and jobs tended to move Latino voters away from Trump.

Comment: Where is the GOP--not pundits, but politicians--when it comes to messaging about education? When do we hear about educating for character, for example, from politicians? Yes, some do decry PC in education--that played very well for Trump. But the GOP at large?


… I mean, Hispanic voters are more liberal on immigration than white voters. But I think that, for one thing, the extent to which Hispanic voters have liberal views on immigration is exaggerated. If you look at, for example, decriminalizing border crossings, that’s not something that a majority of Hispanic voters support. … So I think liberals really essentialize Hispanic voters and project views about immigration onto them that the data just doesn’t support.

Comment: That's the result of the highly ideologized education that the Dem core--college educated whites--have absorbed in isolation from the world of real people and their concerns.


Q. We talked a lot about the rightward drift of Hispanic voters in 2020. But the other big change was a leftward shift among college-educated whites. Understanding the cause of that shift seems pretty important. If these college-educated voters were primarily rejecting Donald Trump, Democrats might not be able to count on their support in 2022 and beyond.

A. … In 2016, non-college-educated whites swung roughly 10 percent against the Democratic Party. And then, in 2018, roughly 30 percent of those Obama-Trump voters ended up supporting Democrats down ballot. In 2020, only 10 percent of Obama-Trump voters came home for Biden.

So I think what this shows: There is a long-term trend of increasing education polarization here and in every other country in the West. But the fact that education polarization declined significantly in 2018 — when Trump wasn’t on the ballot — and picked up again in 2020 suggests that Trump is personally responsible for a significant portion of America’s education polarization. I think that there’s a really strong case that this transition was specifically about Donald Trump.

And it worked for Trump. It also worked in GOP Senate races in 2018.


A lot of people theorized that we first alienated Obama-Trump voters during the fight over comprehensive immigration reform and that their rightward movement was already apparent in 2014. But if you actually look at panel data, it seems really clear that these people didn’t start identifying as Republicans until Trump won the GOP nomination. I think there’s a very strong empirical argument that Donald Trump was the main driver of the polarization we’ve seen since 2016. He just personally embodies this large cultural divide between cosmopolitan college-educated voters and a large portion of non-college-educated voters. Those divides take a lot of different forms: attitudes toward race, attitudes toward gender, opinions on what kinds of things you’re allowed to say, or how you should conduct yourself. And you know, as Trump became the nominee, and as the media made politics the Donald Trump Show for the last four years, that led to increasing political polarization on attitudes toward Donald Trump specifically. I think the reason why we saw less education-based voting in 2018 is that Trump was a smaller part of the media environment than he had been in 2016 or would be in 2020.

Comment: GOPers, please reread that paragraph. That polarization is exactly what you need.


… And yet, while Trump remained historically unpopular in office, he also helped the GOP increase its structural advantages at every level of government. So I’ve long wondered: Was Donald Trump’s unpopularity with the general public more detrimental to the Republican Party than his gift for deepening education polarization was valuable?

… So Donald Trump is unpopular. And he does pay a penalty for that relative to a generic Republican. But the voters he’s popular with happen to be extremely efficiently distributed in political-geography terms.

But how much of that unpopularity, that appears from the rest of the interview to have been narrowly focused in certain demographics, the result of media driven messaging? Can the Dems play that card again and again? How many times can they fool voters? I wouldn't want to bet on that. But if I were a GOPer I'd be very much inclined to continue down the Trumpian path--on principle.


  1. "But, we have a de facto (de jure?) one party government, so we can expect the Republicans to run on cliché platitudes."

    That cliche is what is currently pissing me off... It's the GOPe fallback talking points and music to the ears of the many hapless, lie addicted Repubs. It's why I throw serious shade at the likes of DeSantis.

    Just like the adage of "attack the Dems" vs looking at our own issues or the federal one party system of corruption, its hypocrisy I can't tolerate.

    I speculate that both the Repubs and Dems can successfully run campaigns based on nothing but those talking points. It is after all, their base's core belief systems.

    If a candidate came out swinging at both, which is really what Trump's original message was, *the DC corruption* they would fare far better in the end.

  2. In support, an article from AmericanThinker from Feb 26, entitled, "Was Rush Limbaugh Done with Conservatism?"

    3 observations that I found interesting:

    "He [Limbaugh] recognized over the Obama and Trump years that voters are situationally rather than ideologically oriented."

    " was a "new party" of the same name but changing voters — blue-collar but also multiracial, nationalist, and consumerist."

    "But Limbaugh left behind enough clarity to see beyond the horizon — to see how far a realignment from conservatism to right-wing populism could take this new Republican Party."

    I think that these are really cogent observations and support a re-thinking of direction.

    I remember as a child that it was always the Democrats who were the "Big Tent" party -- now it seems the Republicans are beginning to embrace that role.

  3. Trump was about common sense, not ideology.

    Democrats are about power, and moving society toward their perfect progressive paradise. And convincing / making the Hoi Polloi, the common people, the unenlightened to go in that direction, using whatever means is necessary. It’s a religious war, a jihad, where the progressives know they are on the correct path, with a progressive ratchet.

    And this belief, this secular religion, has been propagandized in public k-12 and the us college system.

    It’s a culture war. And Trump did push back, which was a pleasant change, but did not see until it was too late, how infested the majority of the power structures are in the US. And the eGOP due to shared values and corruption, aided and abetted the forces against Trump.

    Think if Trump had gone against critical race theory in his first few month as President. If he had pushed hard on school choice. If he had starred building the wall then. I am amazed at what he accomplished, but it could have been so much more. My guess is he trusted Paul Ryan, was distracted by Mueller, and played it safe in those areas early in his term.

    1. Trump trusted dozens of the Wrong People. I don't really know how he could have done much better in personnel-selection given his ignorance of D.C.--to which he admitted!

      One wonders if there are ANY honest men in D.C. or whether a Trump-ist President will have to select people from Flyover Country to fill a Cabinet.

    2. Trump picked Gen Flynn, who was the guy Trump needed to drain the swamp.

      Pence damaged the administration severely when he believed the FBI's lies about Gen Flynn rather than believing Flynn.

    3. Yes, Pence.

      Also Sessions, McConnell, P Ryan, Comey, Rosenstein, Mueller, Barr, Romney, McCain, Murkowski, Flake, Corker, Sasse, Burr, L Cheney, N Haley...all registered 'Republicans'.

      What were they thinking?

      And now Michael McCaul?

      I'm sure I've forgotten a bunch of others.

    4. Robert Barnes of Viva Frei believes that Pence acted to protect the interests of the Deep State. That he deliberately got Bannon, Flynn, Gorka and others out of the administration and replaced them with establishment types.

      Trump has shown a TERRIBLE tendency to pick people who are not aligned with his vision. It is still on display now with Stepian and others who hurt his campaign. He has to really have someone he trusts give him straight advice and get a cadre or team that can execute his vision. Navarro would be such a person in my mind.


    5. It is probably a weakness of Trump's character that his vanity is so easily tickled that he could have been led by the nose on many of these personnel moves.

      But how much does that matter? Let's assume that Trump was a perfect judge of character. He still has to get all of his appointments approved by the GOPe Senate.

      That wasn't going to happen. They would not allow a truly populist-outsider administration to develop around Trump. It's going to take a lot more than a presidential election to change that.