Wednesday, March 27, 2019

America Is Getting More Liberal--But Can Democrats Actually Beat Trump?

This is the subject of Tom Edsall's excellent new column on the Times website. As he succinctly puts it:
"Two major studies released this month, the General Social Survey and the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, reveal some generally positive trends for Democrats: defections in the Midwest among Trump voters, as well as a shift to the left among all voters on issues of race, immigration and spending on the poor."
The latter point is something I've written about quite a bit before. It's just not the case that Americans, including white Americans, are awash in racism and nativism.
"In 2016, Trump capitalized on hostility to immigrants and minorities. Tom Wood, a political scientist at Ohio State, examined the General Social Survey data and found a noticeable, albeit modest, increase in social and cultural tolerance in 2018 among all voters. That a rise in tolerance is a negative for Republicans speaks for itself.
“Quite contrary to popular concerns,” Wood wrote in an email [to Edsall], “it seems that the American public has only grown more tolerant and inclusive over recent decades,” before adding, “There’s been meaningful improvement, or stability, in each of these measures of tolerance since the early 1990s.....I’d be reluctant to infer too much about this for the electoral stakes for 2020 but it does suggest that much anguishing about the U.S. electorate — that it’s growing more adverse to minorities, and is becoming scientifically uniformed on issues of high political charge — is basically wrong."
That's why the other part of what Edsall flags up top is so important. While a more liberal America is a hopeful development, it can still be politically stymied by voting trends in a handful of states. Therefore, if the Trump defections In the Midwest Edsall mentions are real and can be built on, that's hugely important news. Here's the evidence:
"G. Elliott Morris, a political analyst for The Economist, examined state-by-state data in the Cooperative Congressional Election Study. In an email, Morris wrote that the 2018 results make it clear that the president has lost a significant amount of support across the nation, both among his “core" or “base” supporters and the rest.
While millions of suburban whites who voted for Trump in 2016 cast ballots in 2018 for Democratic House and Senate candidates, “the defection runs much deeper than that,” Morris said. Not only did better-off suburbanites defect, “but more important so did working class whites.”
“My analysis of the 2018 C.C.E.S. data,” Morris continued, “finds that 7 percent of white voters without a college education left Trump’s side.” These non-college whites were crucial to Trump’s Electoral College victory, and “small numbers of defections could make a big difference,” especially in the Midwest, where, according to Morris, they make up 57 percent of the voters, compared with 47 percent nationwide."
So let's get those "small numbers of defections"! Which is yet another reason to avoid the four don'ts. They're highly unlikely to be attractive to potential Trump defectors.


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NYTIMES.COM
In response to Trump’s presidency, America has gotten more liberal — despite appearances to the contrary. Will it matter in 2020?

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