Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Democrats, the White Working Class and Virginia

Could this man pull it off? Well, if he does, you can be sure he will owe his victory to white working class voters. That's Michael Tomasky's thesis in his Daily Beast column that draws heavily on the new Griffin/Halpin/Teixeira CAP report on "Voter Trends in 2016". 
The experts say Northam should win. But if you want something to worry about today, I implore you to read this report issued last week by Ruy Teixeira, John Halpin, and Rob Griffin of the Center for American Progress. The three authors set about to check the accuracy of last fall’s exit polls.
They looked at “a multitude of publicly available data sources” to try to find out whether last year’s exit polls told the story of the election accurately. They found that in a few respects, the exit polls were right. But boy did they miss some stuff, and one fact in particular.
The exit polls, they found, dramatically understated the percent of the total vote cast by non-college whites—that is, the category that best correlates to the famous white working class. Exit polls had non-college whites casting 34 percent of all 2016 ballots, and college-educated whites casting 37 percent. The actual numbers, according to the new study? College-educated whites were in fact just 29 percent of the total vote, and non-college whites were a whopping 45 percent of the vote.
I know what you’re thinking: There was a massive Trumpian white working class surge that the exit polls missed. But even that isn’t really right. Because they studied the 2012 results too, and found that almost exactly the same thing happened then. The 2012 exit polls had both groups of white voters at about 36 percent. But Teixeira, Halpin, and Griffin found that college-educated whites accounted for 28 percent of the 2012 vote, and non-college whites 45 percent. So apparently, exit polls just consistently undercount the white working class.
The way in which one can speak of a Trumpian surge is that of course these white working-class voters gave Donald Trump a bigger share of their vote in 2016 than they gave to Mitt Romney four years before. The authors note, in fact, that if Clinton had equaled Obama’s 2012 levels of support among non-college whites, “she would have carried, with more robust margins, the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida and Iowa (and just missed carrying Ohio). In fact, if she could merely have reduced the shift toward Trump among these voters by one quarter, she would have won the election.”
So there’s your explanation as to why we were all so shocked last election night. A heavily Republican demographic was dramatically undercounted.
Let's hope we're not shocked again. The Democrats appear to be running a solid margin among white college grads and a very strong one among black voters. But the white working class is a very different story and it is there the election could be lost. Stay tuned. 

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