Tuesday, October 12, 2021

More Shor Please!

By now everybody has probably read the Ezra Klein piece summarizing David Shor's analysis and the views of his critics. This is all good because of the importance of the debate, a debate which Klein's predictably wishy-washy conclusion does nothing to resolve.
So to dig a little deeper, here is more Shor in his own words from a new interview on Spiked. His case risks being bowdlerized as just the stricture to run on popular issues and avoid unpopular ones ("popularism"). There's a lot more to it than that as demonstrated below. Shor builds his case on well-documented structural features of, and changes in, American politics and political coalitions. His analysis is clear, simple and revealing. it is not what Democrats want to hear, as noted by Klein, but it is what they must hear. Judging from the reaction to Klein's article I think more on the center-left are realizing they must reckon with the points he makes if they are serious about winning elections consistently.
"Biden got about 51.3 per cent of the vote. If he had done 0.3 percentage points worse, Donald Trump would be president and Republicans would control the Senate. This highlights the structural bias in America’s institutions.
The structure of our institutions strongly empowers rural areas relative to urban areas. In the past, urban-rural gaps were a lot smaller than they are now, so the bias didn’t matter so much. But over the past 10 years there has been an enormous increase in education polarisation – basically, college-educated people moving to the left and working-class people moving to the right. This has been happening across the Western world. In the UK and the US, because living in urban areas is so strongly correlated with education, this has led to a massive gap between how the centre-left performs in cities and how it performs in rural areas. And that has led to an explosion in the structural bias of the electoral map.
The structural bias of our electoral institutions isn’t a fixed quantity. It’s a function of what coalitions parties build. The centre-left in the US and abroad has decided to base its coalition around highly educated people who live in cities. That has put it at a massive structural disadvantage....
There was roughly a two to three percentage-point decline in support for the Democrats among African-American voters in 2020, and an eight or nine percentage-point decline among Hispanic voters. Among the roughly 40 per cent of Hispanic voters who identify as conservative, the shift was nearly three times as large. Nearly all of the change was among conservative non-white voters who used to be very pro-Democrat.....
This all centres on ideology. Roughly speaking, about 40 per cent of the population identify as moderate, 40 per cent as conservative and 20 per cent as liberal. This doesn’t vary by race. About 80 per cent of white conservatives vote for the Republicans and 90 per cent of white liberals vote for the Democrats. Democrats usually do well among non-white conservatives. What changed in 2020 was that non-white conservatives started to vote more like white conservatives. As the Democratic Party has become more educated and more liberal, it has driven away a lot of people who previously voted for it who do not identify as liberal.
Just 10 or 15 years ago, moderates outnumbered liberals in the Democratic Party. Now, liberals are the majority. Those liberals have changed the party’s messaging and driven out people who do not agree with them.....
The single biggest predictor of switching from supporting Hillary Clinton to supporting Trump was attitudes toward crime and policing. If you look at the 2018 Midterms, even though the Democrats did very well overall, they did worse with non-white voters than they did in 2016 across most high-profile electoral races. And this led to them losing a lot of those races.
This isn’t a new trend – it has been happening ever since 2016. And it happened again in the California recall election. ‘Defund the police’ was an extreme example. Nearly every single black and Hispanic elected official opposed defunding the police last year, as did the majority of white voters. The only people who supported it were left-wing activists and Democratic Party staffers, who managed to convince a whole host of mainstream Democratic organisations to shift their rhetoric.....
American politics hinges on getting working-class voters to support you. Nobody wants to say it out loud but, broadly speaking, working-class voters have moderate, centre-left views on economics and very right-wing views on a variety of cultural issues, particularly immigration. To appeal to working-class voters you have to focus the public conversation on the issues that they agree with you on.
People trust the centre-right on issues like crime, immigration and the scope of government. And they trust the centre-left on issues like health, education and improving race relations. If centre-left parties can focus their agenda on reasonable, incremental improvements in health and education, they are in a good position. But if the public conversation shifts to things like foreign policy, crime or immigration, then they are at a disadvantage....
The Republicans loosened the rules on political donations, which has had a massive impact on the internal aspects of the parties. Activist organisations, funded by super-rich people, now have a greater voice. They don’t have the same incentives as the Democratic leaders, who want to focus on broadly popular economic issues."

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