Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Social Anxiety vs Status Anxiety

The "latest survey" shows that Trump voters were most motivated by cultural anxiety, not economic anxiety.  This contradicts the idea that Bernie Sanders' message could have won these voters, though I think we have to acknowledge that he probably would have won some votes that Clinton lost, while also losing some votes she did win.

However, as with all things 2016, we need to keep two big things in sight: Trump won because of a quirk in the Electoral College that allowed a clear minority president to win and the Trump Coalition is old.

So the idea that Trump could somehow use these same votes to win in 2020 seems a stretch.  If he garners 46% of the vote again - no guarantees that he will - it is tough to see him (in Roger Cohen's words) draw three consecutive inside straights again.

The idea that "racism" drove Trump voters is as incomplete as the "economic factors" argument.  Yes, the cultural anxiety referenced in the piece is sort of coded for race, but that doesn't make all these voters "racist."  Some certainly are, and this isn't even scratching the surface of the Alt-Right. No one is suggesting that Democrats can return to power by winning the vote of Milo Yianolinhkjbdfkjbkjhs or whatever his name is.

The question is, can they lose WWC voters by a small enough margin.  This article suggests that could be difficult, absent a recession.  Their identification with being part of a "beleaguered majority" is atavistic.  It's not going to be mollified by a position paper or careful messaging.  As the article above notes: Republicans voted for the Republican.  And this milieu of white grievance is a critical part of Republican politics.

The GOP self-inflicted wound of the Shitburger Act of 2017 could unmoor some of Trump's softer support, and the actuarial table will remove a little bit more every year, especially in the Rust Belt.

However, these rural WWC voters aren't wrong that their relative status in America is declining.  Both the Obama years and the current virulent backlash against Trump among the "creative classes" is reinforcing.  This would suggest that the current strategy of trying to win college educated suburban voters might actually be the best way forward.  Ed Burmila says this is group is unreachable.  They have been the backbone of Reaganite Republicanism since Nixon.

But I wonder if perhaps that overstates the monolithic nature of the suburbs.  Again, what will Georgia 6 and Montana-at-large tell us?

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