There’s no shortage of Lessons for Democrats from 2016 … and many of them are wrong. (More)

“Like I told everyone during the election, he’s got four years, he blows it up, we start over again”

The Public Religion Research Institute survey attributes that quote to Man, and we could have guessed:

“I think it’s much less that Trump gets it and much more a desire to gamble on big change. It’s almost like we’re setting the reset button, we’re saying: ‘Okay, we’ve had all these politicians in here for so long, we’ve got another politician whose husband was in there for eight years, she has the potential of being in there eight years.’ There’s so many career politicians, and it seems like Trump’s entire campaign was, ‘I’m not a career politician. I may not know what I’m doing but I’m not that. So put me in there, let’s give something else, anything else, a try and see how it goes.’ And like I told everyone during the election, he’s got four years, he blows it up, we start over again.” – Man

And because the PRRI survey interviewed working class whites, we know that Man was white. Again, we could have guessed. Based on their owner results, we can also guess that Man is not facing economic hardship; their survey found that working class whites in economic hardship were more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton. Instead, their survey suggests, he’s wrapped up in economic and cultural angst … a high-school diploma is no longer enough to “10 buck an hour” job like dad got, but “college is a gamble” because “any job that I may get I will never pay it off in my lifetime.” Oh, and feminists, LGBTs, and immigrants are “degrading American culture and our identity.” Hell, “I feel like a stranger in my own country” and “the American way of life needs to be protected from foreign influence.”

Again, the PRRI survey found that working class whites facing economic hardship were more likely to vote for Clinton. The driver in voting for Trump … was economic and cultural angst, and especially angst among white men.

“Racism and sexism were much more important and can explain about two-thirds of the education gap
among whites in the 2016 presidential vote”

The PRRI survey had a robust sample of over 3000 interviews, and it’s not the only study to show the same trend. Vox’s German Lopez notes that the PRRI results track with a 2016 Gallup study and a 2017 University of Massachusetts study. Both of those found also found that economic and cultural angst – the latter specifically names racism and sexism – were the driving force behind working-class whites shift to Trump.

From the Gallup study:

The results show mixed evidence that economic distress has motivated Trump support. His supporters are less educated and more likely to work in blue collar occupations, but they earn relatively high household incomes and are no less likely to be unemployed or exposed to competition through trade or immigration.

From the UMass study:

We find that while economic dissatisfaction was part of the story, racism and sexism were much more important and can explain about two-thirds of the education gap among whites in the 2016 presidential vote.

Vox’s Dylan Matthews pulls two key points from the Gallup study:

Trump does well in racially segregated areas: Turning to the geographic data, Rothwell finds that segregated, homogenous white areas are Trump’s base of support. “People living in zip codes with disproportionately high shares of white residents are significantly and robustly more likely to view Trump favorably,” he writes. “Those living in zip codes with overall diversity that is low relative to their commuting zone are also far more likely to view Trump favorably.” Put another way: If you’re in the whitest suburb in your area, you’re likelier to back Trump.

Trump doesn’t do well in areas affected by trade or immigration: This is perhaps the most surprising finding. Contact with immigrants seems to reduce one’s likelihood of supporting Trump, as areas that are farther from Mexico and with smaller Hispanic populations saw more Trump support.

Areas with more manufacturing are significantly less likely to support Trump. An increase in the level of manufacturing employment from 2000 to 2007 predicted higher Trump support – which is the opposite of what you’d expect, given the narrative around this campaign. While the finding isn’t statistically significant, greater exposure to Chinese imports predicts lower support for Trump, despite his agitation for higher tariffs on the country.

And Lopez explains key details from the UMass study:

Now, the researchers didn’t measure just any kind of racism and sexism. For racism, they evaluated the extent that someone acknowledges and empathizes with racism – acting as a proxy measure for actual racist beliefs. (Research shows that these kinds of measures correlate with actual racism, which is tricky to measure in a more direct way since people will do what they can to avoid looking racist.) For sexism, they evaluated someone’s hostile sexism – which, through several questions, gauges hostile attitudes toward women. (For more on how hostile sexism is typically measured and compares with other types of sexism, read Libby Nelson’s explanation for Vox.)

“Strict identification requirements had significant negative effects on voter participation during the 2016 election

And in a not-unrelated story, a Priorities USA study found that the GOP’s voter suppression campaign may have swung at least one key state in 2016:

A new study by Priorities USA, shared exclusively with The Nation, shows that strict voter-ID laws, in Wisconsin and other states, led to a significant reduction in voter turnout in 2016, with a disproportionate impact on African-American and Democratic-leaning voters. Wisconsin’s voter-ID law reduced turnout by 200,000 votes, according to the new analysis. Donald Trump won the state by only 22,748 votes.

More generally, the study found:

This analysis covers the effects of voter identification laws on voter participation during the 2016 election. Specifically, we find that changing to both “strict” and “non-strict” voter-id laws has a significant negative effect on total voter turnout and that these effects are most severe in African American areas of the country.

As a result, we can say with confidence that adding strict identification requirements had significant
negative effects on voter participation during the 2016 election.
[…]
We found that total turnout increased in states where ID laws did not change between the 2012 and 2016 elections, but decreased in states where ID laws changed to strict. Specifically, in states where the voter identification laws did not change between ‘12 and ‘16, turnout was up +1.3%. In states where ID laws changed to non-strict (AL, NH, RI) turnout increased less, and was only up by +0.7%. In states where ID laws changed to strict (MS, VA, WI) turnout actually decreased by – 1.7%.
[…]
Finally, we find that lost voters tend to skew more African-American and more Democrat. These findings suggest that voter identification laws not only have a suppressive effect on voter turnout, but on specifically African-American turnout and on Democratic vote share.

I call that “a not-unrelated story” because, apart from naked partisanship, a driving force in the rhetoric for ever-stricter voter ID laws is the same cultural angst found in the PRRI, Gallup, and UMass studies. Specifically, GOP legislators insist – again and again, without any reliable evidence – that ‘illegal’ black, Hispanic, and female voters are “diluting” the votes of “legitimate voters” (read: white men).

In assessing what Democrats should learn from 2016, it’s vital to distinguish hardship from angst. Tomorrow I’ll explore why it’s relatively easy for Democrats to make our case to those who face economic hardship … and very difficult to make our case to those who are wrapped up in economic and cultural angst.

That’s my plan, anyway … unless the God-King blows up the news again….

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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Good day and good nuts