Sep

15

 The 2 elections in North Carolina give us some actual data–at last–that can be compared against the polls' predictions; but they only offer a vague sketch of where we are heading in 2020. As anyone who has ever tried to use a sextant knows, there was a very good reason that Nelson's Navy had every midshipman on board do a noon sighting. A single set of readings is not nearly enough information by itself. But, with the polling data as charts, you can finally get a decent confirmation of roughly where we are.

Amy Walter of the Cook Report has a new piece that is a very good description of the present location.

The piece has the unavoidable bias of the Cook Political Report; since Mr. Cook's subscribers and consultancy customers lean Left, Ms. Walter gives the Democrats the place above the fold. (For the younger List members this metaphor is a reference to the time when the NY Times, Washington Post and other "serious" newspapers were large enough that they had to be folded in half. The part with the masthead and the column headlines was placed facing up on the newsstand piles - hence "above the fold".) But, Ms. Walter is a journalist first and a partisan second.

If you read to the end of the piece you come to this startling conclusion by David Hopkins, a Boston College political science academic: "Democrats can't make up for losses in rural areas by winning 'the suburbs'." Democrats can win the large metropolitan area suburbs because those districts are now as much majority "minority" jurisdictions as the major central cities themselves. As Ms. Walter notes, "There are now almost as many Democratic-held suburban seats that are majority-minority (49) as there are Democratic-held urban seats that are majority-minority (54)."

Rather than being a major shift, 2018 was, in fact, a continuation of 2016. The Democrats ran up large vote totals in the districts that they never lose; but in the swing districts the vote was split right down the middle.

If I were a Democrat, I would demand that the Electoral College be abolished. That mechanism succeeds exactly as it was designed to do: the smaller, more rural jurisdictions cannot be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the urban demos. In writing this I am not trying to excuse away my utter failure to predict the 2018 results; but I am explaining why what appeared to be a landslide was, in fact, another narrow election, just like 2016. Give Mrs. Clinton the right to take 2/10ths of 1% of the national popular vote - 257,677 - and take them from California and put them in the states of her choosing, and she would be President. Give the Republicans the same fraction (.00216 to be precise) of the 2018 total vote and let them put them in the 18% of the House districts that were "swing" seats and the Republicans not only retain control but add seats.

What Trump has achieved is the restoration of the Republican brand with the white-skinned majority of the electorate. Democrats have been out of favor with Whites for a decade and that negative opinion has been consistent: in 2010 Whites' feelings towards the party of slavery, segregation and affirmative action were -18, and this year they are -17. But, as recently as 2014, the Republicans were no better: in that year they were -11 and the Democrats -16, a spread of only 5 points. This year the spread is 21 points, and the Republicans have a positive rating of +4. That "reboot" of the GOP as the party of white-skinned privilege is the best single explanation for what happened on Tuesday here among the pine trees and live oaks.

What is most likely to explain next year's election is the decision of Trump's campaign to use "Socialism" as the nasty label for the Democrat nominee. For the Democrats' strongest voting segments - single women, urban and large city suburban residents, the young with college diplomas and student loans, and African - that label is an endorsement. But, for the less-than-college educated white and brown-skinned voters and the people with savings counted in the thousands, not millions, "Socialism" means more money for the schoolies and more taxes for them. It is a devastating message, especially for the suburbs in the swing states.

For those who want more poll data, I recommend this.


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