blueollie

What is Trump’s appeal?

Obviously, one can’t answer this question fully in one little blog post. And yes, there are plenty of well-to-do people who will vote for Trump; many probably like him.

But if you look at where his support is coming from, it appears to be strongest from “white people without a college degree”. (here and here). From the latter link:

The list of voting groups generally alienated by Donald J. Trump is long: Hispanics, women, the young, the college educated and more. How is it that he’s in such a close race with Hillary Clinton?

The answer lies with a group that still represented nearly half of all voters in 2012: white voters without a college degree, and particularly white men without a degree.

Mrs. Clinton is showing enormous weakness with this group. And these voters are supporting Mr. Trump in larger numbers than they supported Mitt Romney four years ago. It’s enough to keep the election close. It could even be enough for him to win.

So, why is his support so strong in this group? An article in the American Conservative posits an answer:

The two political parties have offered essentially nothing to these people for a few decades. From the Left, they get some smug condescension, an exasperation that the white working class votes against their economic interests because of social issues, a la Thomas Frank (more on that below). Maybe they get a few handouts, but many don’t want handouts to begin with.

From the Right, they’ve gotten the basic Republican policy platform of tax cuts, free trade, deregulation, and paeans to the noble businessman and economic growth. Whatever the merits of better tax policy and growth (and I believe there are many), the simple fact is that these policies have done little to address a very real social crisis. More importantly, these policies are culturally tone deaf: nobody from southern Ohio wants to hear about the nobility of the factory owner who just fired their brother.

Trump’s candidacy is music to their ears. He criticizes the factories shipping jobs overseas. His apocalyptic tone matches their lived experiences on the ground. He seems to love to annoy the elites, which is something a lot of people wish they could do but can’t because they lack a platform.

The last point I’ll make about Trump is this: these people, his voters, are proud. A big chunk of the white working class has deep roots in Appalachia, and the Scots-Irish honor culture is alive and well. We were taught to raise our fists to anyone who insulted our mother. I probably got in a half dozen fights when I was six years old. Unsurprisingly, southern, rural whites enlist in the military at a disproportionate rate. Can you imagine the humiliation these people feel at the successive failures of Bush/Obama foreign policy? My military service is the thing I’m most proud of, but when I think of everything happening in the Middle East, I can’t help but tell myself: I wish we would have achieved some sort of lasting victory. No one touched that subject before Trump, especially not in the Republican Party. […]

What does it mean for our politics? To me, this condescension is a big part of Trump’s appeal. He’s the one politician who actively fights elite sensibilities, whether they’re good or bad. I remember when Hillary Clinton casually talked about putting coal miners out of work, or when Obama years ago discussed working class whites clinging to their guns and religion. Each time someone talks like this, I’m reminded of Mamaw’s feeling that hillbillies are the one group you don’t have to be ashamed to look down upon. The people back home carry that condescension like a badge of honor, but it also hurts, and they’ve been looking for someone for a while who will declare war on the condescenders. If nothing else, Trump does that.

This is where, to me, there’s a lot of ignorance around “Teflon Don.” No one seems to understand why conventional blunders do nothing to Trump. But in a lot of ways, what elites see as blunders people back home see as someone who–finally–conducts themselves in a relatable way. He shoots from the hip; he’s not constantly afraid of offending someone; he’ll get angry about politics; he’ll call someone a liar or a fraud. This is how a lot of people in the white working class actually talk about politics, and even many elites recognize how refreshing and entertaining it can be! So it’s not really a blunder as much as it is a rich, privileged Wharton grad connecting to people back home through style and tone. Viewed like this, all the talk about “political correctness” isn’t about any specific substantive point, as much as it is a way of expanding the scope of acceptable behavior. People don’t want to believe they have to speak like Obama or Clinton to participate meaningfully in politics, because most of us don’t speak like Obama or Clinton.

(emphasis mine).

Believe it or not, I’ve seen that on my own Facebook wall. When I discuss an issue, I tend to discuss an issue narrowly and use technical language when appropriate. Often a complicated issue has a complicated answer that is conditional, based on the current parameters at that time. I have little patience with listening to someone’s “common sense answer” (something that makes sense TO THEM), especially if we are discussing something that they have no expertise in.

And I’ve seen some of this from Sanders supporters; they get very annoyed when you tell them that “Nobel prize winning economist X says that Sanders’ proposals just don’t add up.”.

And THAT is probably why I’ll stick to discussing the “horserace” aspect to this election. There is no way in the world I am going to convince a Trump supporter to switch to Hillary Clinton, and I won’t even try. I might try to get a disgruntled Republican friend to vote for her, but these friend are from my “tribe”, so to speak.

And forget the religiously conservative people; we don’t even speak the same language.

The horse race (the state of the election).

Upshot: Clinton, 70 percent.

evcom1aug

Current state of the polls: Clinton 284-207, with 49 tied (Florida and Ohio)

Betting lines; Clinton is back to 1/2 (2 to 1 favorite)
1augodds

It looks as if the Democratic Convention bounce has compensated for the Republican Convention bounce.

August 1, 2016 - Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | , ,

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