Well, it happened. We’ll have a Trump presidency. I’ve been worried here about the rise of identity politics (see my many previous posts). Now that the exit polling is out, we can see that it has bitten us. Clinton ran on an almost pure demographic strategy—get women, people of color, and the educated onboard, and do it in a way that is strongly inspiring and without compromises for these three groups—potentially losing others due to values disagreements in the process if necessary.
The exit polling data is out. And it’s pretty revealing.
- In comparison to Obama’s 2012 win, Clinton absolutely cratered with middle class and working class voters.
- Women only went for Clinton by one percentage point more than they did for Obama.
- Every single racial demographic swung Republican vs. 2012 with Obama. Every single one. Turnout was significantly worse, and the toward-Republican shift in the white vote was the smallest shift of them all.
- She got more of the educated vote.
- She got more of the upper income vote (this is of course correlated with the last point).
- But the gains in these two groups, which are smaller to start with, and then also were smaller percentage shifts, did not make up for the loss of the middle class and working class losses.
In short, the demographic strategy failed. Women didn’t buy in, people of color didn’t buy in as strongly as they did with Obama and then didn’t turn out, and in targeting a more-or-less one-note message in such a socially progressive, identity-driven way, she lost a lot of the lower-income voters that really can’t digest such messages, both because of educational limitations and because they have other things to worry about.
In shorter short, Sanders was right, Clinton was wrong. It’s the economic outlook that drove votes again. Republicans went for that framing in abysmal ways, but by selecting an “elite insider” candidate and then subordinating the economic and opportunity message to the aspirational/inspirational identity message, Democrats ceded the territory, lost those voters, and then didn’t make up the difference in the expected areas.
Seems that identity can cause a few people to get angry, but not inspire most of the public to actually vote for a particular candidate—when it comes to governance, the public appears to be more sophisticated than that.
Part of me wants to say “thank goodness,” but the other part of me is staring down the barrel of a Trump presidency.
Can we dispense with the identity politics nonsense on the left now? (Evidently not, from reading the press and the blogs, where people are doubling down on the idea that this is outcome was about a public that is racist, sexist, and xenophobic, rather than the fact the traditional working class party essentially gave up on economic votes altogether).
— § —
For years, people on the left have been snickering at the right for their “echo chamber” in which pundits and mutually-reinforcing interactions fomented unreasonable fear, paranoia, and blame of the opposing side.
Judging by reactions to the election and ascribed causes, it’s clear that the left now has their own echo change in which unreasonable fears, paranoia, and blame are fomented.
Now that it’s clearly there, I hope it doesn’t stick around for decades as the one on the right has. But I’m not confident that it won’t.
It looks like we’ll have the right unjustifiably calling the left a bunch of totalitarian dictators and the left unjustifiably calling the right a bunch of Klu-Klux-Klan sexists… for the forseeable future. Vomit. The question isn’t “Can America survive Trump?” so much as it is “Can America survive the idiocy and paranoia of its own public?”