Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Great Divide

Thomas Edsall has an interesting column in this  morning's New York Times. This election, he writes, has turned the two parties on their heads:
According to the Oct. 20 Reuters-IPSOS tracking survey, Hillary Clinton now leads Donald Trump by 5.6 points among all whites earning $75,000 or more. This is a substantial improvement on the previous Democratic record of support among upscale white voters, set in 2008 when Barack Obama lost to John McCain among such voters by 11 points.

According to an Oct. 23 ABC News poll, Clinton also leads among all white college graduates, 52-36. She has an unprecedented gender gap among these voters, leading 62-30 among college-educated white women and tying among college educated white men, 42-42.

What these figures suggest is that the 2016 election will represent a complete inversion of the New Deal order among white voters. From the 1930s into the 1980s and early 1990s, majorities of downscale whites voted Democratic and upscale whites voted Republican. Now, looking at combined male and female vote totals, the opposite is true.
Donald Trump's supporters -- downscale whites -- used to be a Democratic constituency. But now:
Nearly half say they feel alienated from contemporary America (“a stranger in their own land”), that they have little or no power to change the course of events — 84.4 percent believe public officials do not care “what people like me think.” 83.5 percent agreed that “in general, Americans lived more moral and ethical lives 50 year ago.”

These voters are convinced (72.6 percent) that they can no longer get ahead in America through hard work, and that the government in Washington threatens the freedom of “ordinary Americans” (75.3 percent). In a nation where same-sex marriage has gained public acceptance and gays routinely appear in television and movies, 54.9 percent of these voters say their own “beliefs and values” are different from those of gays and lesbians, and 66.2 percent oppose requiring every state to permit same-sex marriages.
If the United States doesn't resemble the country we used to know, it's because education and wealth have become the great dividers. Those who have an education and money feel they have a future. Those who don't have those advantages see a country where everything looks dark.

Image: When You're Ready


Lorne said...

One might also add, Owen, that the deep disaffection so many feel also pertains to the fact that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have shown the least concern for the poor and the middle class for the past several decades. While that hardly excuses support for Trump, the fact that so many have fallen so far behind thanks to policies that favour the rich and the corporatocracy are factors that cannot be dismissed.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Lorne. That kind of neglect has sparked revolutions.

The Mound of Sound said...

Wait until after the election as the GOP fractures into two, possibly three camps each intent on dominating the others. There'll be a pre-Reagan and a post-Reagan faction and the Tea Party horde of Trump supporters. It's been decades since the Republicans could claim to be a "big tent" party and now their tent is too small to possibly accommodate all three conflicting interest groups.

It's hard to imagine who could unite them but some Messianic figure untainted by these past rivalries.

Owen Gray said...

The entire party has been tainted by its association with Trump, Mound. It's hard to see who could put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Dana said...

“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

How I wish Mencken was around today.

Owen Gray said...

No doubt he would have some less than complimentary things to say about those he referred to as the "booboise," Dana.

Anonymous said...

The reason upscale neocon Republicans are now voting Democrat is because Hillary is an upscale Republican neocon.

Of course, this ground shift that has turned both parties on their heads is not yet complete. Most Democrats do not support the direction Hillary is taking the party. The strong showing from Bernie Sanders (a nobody who might actually have won the rigged primaries) shows Democrats want an FDR-style leader to bring back the Progressive New Deal Era that began with FDR and was ended by Reagan.

The ground shift in the Republican party is very good news. It shows that the coalition between neocons and Christian fundamentalists that Reagan stitched together has come undone. The Republican base has become disillusioned with the neocon establishment. In the context of history, what this shows is that many American conservatives will be open to a return to progressive economic policies that made American great during the 1950s and 60s (i.e., centrist Keynesian mixed-market economics.)

(Both Republicans and Democrats were economic progressives during the New Deal era. Now neither party is. The Bill Clinton Democrats put an end to the "big government" progressive era. In Canada, the Chretien/Martin Liberals killed it off.)

The entire racism/sexism/homophobia angle is a red herring. The American South is no more "deplorable" than it was 60 years ago. Of course, people who are ignorant are victims of a poor education system. The super deplorables are politicians like the Clintons who incited racism to weasel votes and kickbacks from the private prison industry creating the era of mass incarceration. (Bona fide "super predators.")

Owen Gray said...

Reagan's coalition has become unstuck, Anon. But, as I wrote to the M of S, I'm not sure the Republican Party can be stitched back together again.

Anonymous said...

There is no problem in the Republican party. The neocons who abandoned the party to support Hillary Clinton have not screwed over the party doing this. They have screwed over themselves. They are a small minority who once owned the party. Now they are on the outside and despised by the Republican base. (The liberal narrative the Republican party must be punished for nominating Trump is laughable.)

The Democratic party is the actual party facing problems. Hillary is representing neocons and neoliberals after half the party supported Bernie Sanders and a return to the progressive era. If Hillary wins she will tear the party apart. Support for the Green party will explode over the 4 years she's in office.

Instead of building a new generation of Democratic supporters, the captured DNC mocks Millennials as basement dwellers and commies. This rift is enormous. Far greater than anything the Republican party faces.

Owen Gray said...

No problem, Anon? That's funny.

Anonymous said...

“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

Not what he said. But in any case, it's interesting how those who look down on democracy also look the other way on bribe-taking corruption in government, the economy and the news media.

I'll take ignorance over willful ignorance. The former can be cured with education. The people, if lacking in knowledge, are not lacking in honesty and integrity doing what they can to raise their families.

The latter form of corruption enables the establishment capture of our democratic institutions in a vicious cycle of lying and looting that spins out of control. That's when the "ignorant people" rise up and put the corruption to a stop. Perhaps, one day, they will figure out how to end it for good.

Anonymous said...

"No problem, Anon? That's funny."

You think the Republican party is reeling because it lost the support of the Bushes, Koch Brothers, Paul Ryan, and other establishment neocons? That's not a crisis. That's getting rid of the deadwood -- which has wound up in the Democratic party.

This neoliberal establishment narrative the Republicans must suffer for their sins for not nominating Jeb Bush is not anything a Republican or Independent voter is going to take seriously. Not sure how anyone could take it seriously.

I think it will be interesting to see how the Republican party evolves after this election if Hillary wins. But make no mistake, the party is changing, unlike the Democratic party.

The longer the Democratic party puts off change, the bigger the earthquake when the tectonic plate inevitably shifts. It could tear the party in two. In some ways it's already torn in two: hollow Baby Boomer neoliberals vs. Gen X and Millennial progressives; business as usual vs. the status quo being intolerable.

Owen Gray said...

The actual quote was, ""No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby." So, yes, it's a paraphrase.

But the substance is the same. Obviously, Anon, you have more faith in ignorant people than Mencken did.

Owen Gray said...

I agree that both parties are being transformed, Anon. We'll see which party survives.