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The Myth of the Obama-Trump Voter

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When you see surveys showing fairly high numbers of Obama-Trump voters, remember that such surveys are unreliable because too many people claim retroactively to have voted for the winning candidate. Once you control for this by re-interviewing voters whose votes were recorded contemporaneously, you find that 1)there weren’t all that many and 2)most of them were Republicans whose votes for Obama were aberrational, and would have been overwhelmingly likely to vote for the Republican nominee irrespective of who either party nominated:

Democracy Fund found a fairly ordinary crossover vote in 2016: 9.2 percent of Obama voters supported Trump and 5.4 percent of Mitt Romney voters supported Clinton. That was a “typical” and unsurprising degree of partisan loyalty. “The 2016 election did not create more instability, in the aggregate, than others,” it reported.

And those Obama voters who did cross to Trump look a lot like Republicans. The AFL-CIO’s Podhorzer analyzed raw data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study , out in the spring, and found that Obama-Trump voters voted for Republican congressional candidates by a 31-point margin, Republican Senate candidates by a 15-point margin and Republican gubernatorial candidates by a 27-point margin. Their views on immigration and Obamacare also put them solidly in the GOP camp.

“Democratic analysts who are looking to solve the party’s problem by appealing to this small group of Obama-Trump voters are pointing themselves to a group that by and large is a Republican group now,” Podhorzer told me. “The bulk of Obama-Trump voters are not fed-up Democratic voters; they are Republican voters who chose Obama in 2012. As such, few are available in 2018 or 2020.” Democrats should instead appeal broadly to working-class voters, he said.

In 2008, a larger-than-usual number of Republican voters went with Obama during an extraordinary time, when the economy was in free fall and an incumbent Republican president was deeply unpopular. ANES polling found that 17 percent of Obama voters in 2008 had been for George W. Bush in 2004, compared with the 13 percent of Trump voters, the same survey found, who supported Obama at least once. These people aren’t Obama-Trump voters as much as they were Bush-Obama voters.

Trump’s popularity will be a far more important variable in the 2020 election than the identity of the Democratic candidate. The key for the Democrats in 2008 was not Obama per se but a very unpopular incumbent in a bad economy, which created a lot of crossover voters. It’s not surprising that Bush-Obama voters moved back towards Romney and even more moved back for Trump with an incumbent no longer on the ballot. And as they try to get votes at the margin, Democrats are better off trying to mobilize turnout from their own base than trying to attract disaffected Republicans. If Trump is extremely unpopular you’ll get some no matter what and if Trump is reasonably popular they won’t be gettable anyway.

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  • BiloSagdiyev

    Myths, legends, polling, mathematics… where are the bones? Somebody shoot one and bring it in for study!

  • Spiny

    It’s remarkable how difficult it is to correctly analyze data on voting and voter motivations. It’s equally remarkable how dead-certain ideologues (and media figures who are eager to lecture Democrats) are that they have cracked the code.

    Democrats are relearning not to be afraid to say what we believe in, both on economics and on social issues. The defensive crouch from when our opinions genuinely were the minority is disappearing. This process is good and can only be derailed by endless speculating about the inner lives of a tiny fraction of voters who thought Obama-Trump was a reasonable voting history for an adult to have.

    • King Goat

      “Democrats are relearning not to be afraid to say what we believe in, both on economics and on social issues.”

      Are we relearning from all the recent electoral beatings (record low governors, state houses, on the losing end of all federal branches)? This is the absolute worst time to double down on what we’ve been doing, no?

      • SpiderDan

        My understanding is that losing a bunch of elections to far-right Republicans is supposed to make liberal politicians move further left to beat them. That’s why the Green Party exists, right?

        • King Goat

          Something something the definition of insanity…

          • spencer_e9876

            That saying is idiotic, for many reasons.

            • King Goat

              Like to repeatedly touch hot things, eh?

              • postmodulator

                Said the guy who has posted the same comment on every thread since the tenth of November.

                • King Goat

                  Ah, I was saying HRC was a bad candidate *before* she lost my friend.

                  How about you?

                  Also, in this analogy I’m the guy telling people not to touch the stove.

                • postmodulator

                  Was the FBI investigation justified, or was it not?

                • King Goat

                  I’d say it was warranted. I think Comey was correct that no prosecutor would bring the case, but I do think she did something that could technically be seen as violating the law.

                • postmodulator

                  Okay. So you have a substantive problem with HRC, and you’re trying to make it sound like you were just concerned about her optics.

                • King Goat

                  I voted for HRC in the primary and the GE. But if you’d like to talk about the letter of the law in question and her actions I could, though I’d really just direct you to Comey’s official conclusions on the matter (where he said her actions warranted investigation and came close to violating the law, but did not).

                • postmodulator

                  You. Voted. For. HRC. In. The. Primary.

                • King Goat

                  Absolutely. I think she was a poor choice *politically* but she was eminently qualified and a good, loyal Democrat all her life.

                  Sanders was even worse politically and I can’t add the other things about him…

                • postmodulator

                  How in the name of Yog-Sothoth do you square that with claiming she shouldn’t have been nominated?

                • King Goat

                  Let’s say you’re the coach of the Browns. You can’t believe who the GM drafted/traded for, but you’ve got the QB roster you have. So you pick the best of them, right?

                  But at the next meeting you loudly tell everyone, hey, the GM’s strategy is not good.

                • postmodulator

                  But then what do your comments accomplish? One or two would be understandable; I’ve made a couple of negative comments about HRC as a candidate here and there. But you hardly post about anything else.

                  Elsewhere in this thread you say both that you want to get rid of the superdelegates and also that we shouldn’t nominate weak candidates — which is what the superdelegates are meant to prevent. It’s just plain incomprehensible.

                  So we shouldn’t have voted for the candidate you voted for and no one should override the primary electorate.

                  Do you at least have an inkling why we’re so frustrated?

                • King Goat

                  I tend to only post when I disagree with the consensus here, which is almost all the time. Really, go see my comments at other sites, like InsideHigherEd, I’m seen as pretty left. But a lot of people here insist that something, anything, other than that we nominated an unliked candidate happened in 16. That’s unbelievable to me, near madness to not admit that in a popularity contest nominating a mostly unliked person is a bad move.

                  The superdelegates don’t stop ‘weak’ candidates as much as they reward ‘establishment’ candidates that they have ties to.

                  “So we shouldn’t have voted for the candidate you voted for and no one should override the primary electorate.”

                  The first would take care of the second, no?

                • postmodulator

                  Again: do you see why we’re frustrated? It has very little to do with whether or not HRC was a weak candidate. The only consensus here with regard to her is that she was the best option in the primary and the best option in the general. With which you agree.

                  You post a similar comment in every thread about the election, even those that don’t touch on her strengths as a candidate. You never address the original
                  post.

                • King Goat

                  Here’s why I’m frustrated: that so many can’t see that her choice is indicative that our party and it’s nominating process was totally in a bad place. That’s the point of my Browns QB analogy, which no one has addressed.

                  Take it another way. Let’s say that someone said ‘we have a real problem in that so many of our nationally prominent politicians are older people, they don’t appeal to young voters.’ Would it make sense to answer them ‘well, Hillary won the primary fair and square!!!!’

                  Sure she did. But that doesn’t address the problem mentioned at all, that for whatever reason most of our nationally prominent politicians are older.

                  Likewise, if I say ‘we had a real problem in our nomination process last year, one we’d better fix’ how is it some important answer to say ‘Hillary won fair and square!!!’?

                • SpiderDan

                  That kind of abstract “we need to find and nominate unnamed Better Candidates” is not remotely the same argument as “I told you she would lose.”

                  If you agree she was the best candidate on the ballot, why are you bragging about successfully predicting her loss? It’s nonsense.

                • SpiderDan

                  The argument that candidate likeability decided the 2016 election is decisively refuted. Hillary was “less likeable” than Bernie and beat him easily. Trump was “less likeable” than Hillary and still won. What does that tell you about the importance of likeability last November?

                • Mark Dobrowolski

                  Probably the problem was selective prosecution. When GWB’s admin had previously done the same thing it was not a crime. So to prosecute a democrat for the same thing was a political decision, not a criminal one. This was Comey’s dilemma.

            • SatanicPanic

              It really is. Do people give up on lighting a match when the first one out of the box doesn’t light?

          • sharculese

            Is throwing out the same inane gibberish and thinking this is the time we’ll finally pretend you’re smart.

            • King Goat

              If you want to play that game…Here’s what I know: I was right about HRC’s prospects.

              You? Not so much.

              • MariedeGournay
                • King Goat

                  People don’t like being told they were wrong. I get it.

                  But here’s what you being wrong has got us:
                  Peaceful people being torn from their families and deported, or not allowed in the country in the first place
                  Women’s reproductive rights cut
                  Minority protections attacked
                  Environmental protections gutted

                  Sooner or later you have to ‘woman up’ and admit you were wrong and start a process of listening to people who didn’t think like you (which was wrong).

              • Here’s what I know: I was right about HRC’s prospects.

                You? Not so much.

                LOL! On a 50/50 proposition, you guessed right.

                Your powers of foresight are amazing.

              • News Nag

                You have self-named well, goat. I think you give fake news. Clinton won the popular vote by millions of votes. We’re pretty sure that bigoted and someday newly illegal again biased voter exclusion was the cause of her electoral college loss. So you may be smart (or not), but your ‘thoughts’ about HRC don’t prove anything close to that, or that you’re right about anything. Go blow a fellow goat.

                • humanoidpanda

                  1. Her victory in the popular vote has no bearing on whether she was strong candidate or not.
                  2. No, we don’t have much evidence that voter suppression led to Trunps victory.

                • News Nag

                  1. You’re not right, and worse. “..no bearing”. HAHAHAHA. Votes don’t matter to paranoidpanda.
                  2. You’re not right, and worse. Never enough evidence, eh? Why, that would negate your negativity.

              • SpiderDan

                I like this game! Let’s try some more:

                – Bernie never had a chance to win the primary, no matter how many millions he burned or how long he pointlessly stayed in it
                – Hillary and Trump aren’t Almost The Same
                – The Supreme Court does matter

      • Spiny

        One of the central complaints of the left has been that Democrats have been too prone to masking what we really believe (on gay rights, on religion, on the minimum wage, on healthcare, etc.) in places where we fear there are too many conservatives and squishy centrists who aren’t ready for it. I think the lesson of the past several years has been that that critique is right – Democrats like Obama gained nothing by pretending they were ambivalent on gay rights, for example, and Trump showed that support for a strong safety net is much broader among Republican voters than free-market conservatives believed. What used to be a real majority for social conservatism and Reagan-style economics clearly doesn’t exist anymore, and now activists in the Democratic party and outside of it are open about not having any interest in compromising with those views.

        So no, I don’t think what I said is the same as “doubling down on what we’ve been doing”.

        • humanoidpanda

          ” Democrats like Obama gained nothing by pretending they were ambivalent on gay rights, for example, and Trump showed that support for a strong safety net is much broader among Republican voters than free-market conservatives believed”

          1. Democratic majorities in 2006 and 2008 hinged on Blue Dogs who we hemming and hawing. And in 2008 Obama probably won votes on the margin by lying about gay marriage.
          2. Trump himself hemmed and hawed on social issues! He literally wrapped himself in the pride flag to mislead centrist voters about his agenda!

          • Spiny

            Re (1): That’s fair. I would argue that that was one particular moment in time, though, and doesn’t say much about what such strategy buys us in the long-term. Any advantage to pretending Democrats are a big tent re: gay rights is long-gone. People who were deeply opposed to gay marriage understand clearly which party is for them.

            Re (2): Doesn’t this prove my point? Trump didn’t feel much need to pander to an imagined majority who believe in religious social conservatism, and he wasn’t punished for it.

            • humanoidpanda

              My point is that Trump understood that some parts of his actual platform are not popular, so he obfuscated them. I see no problem with democrats running in red areas doing the same.

              • Spiny

                Sure. But I think the necessity to do that is less dire for Democrats, certainly less dire than it once was.

                • humanoidpanda

                  On some issues ( gay rights is the obvious example) sure. On others, not so much.

        • King Goat

          “Democrats like Obama gained nothing by pretending they were ambivalent on gay rights, for example”

          Nothing but the Presidency.

          Seriously, if Obama had come out for full blown SSM in 08 we’d be talking about McCain’s successor now.

          • Spiny

            “Gained nothing” was indeed putting it too strongly. My argument is not that triangulation has never worked. My argument is that the need for it has largely evaporated over the past several years, and that having done it in the past has not bought us lasting benefits coalition-wise.

            • Brian J.

              That seems pretty clearly contradicted by the results; the party has been losing seats even in core territories by not compromising with the electorate, and the candidates who’ve been winning local elections have not been Sandbaggers or other lefties. When the socialist candidate can’t make the runoff for mayor of Seattle, probably the nation’s most left-wing big city, then it’s hard to say that an era of socialism or even social democracy is upon us.

            • humanoidpanda

              The thing is that in an immensely diverse country with only two parties, you are always going to triangulate on some things. The only question is what those things are

          • Brian J.

            More likely Romney’s second term. The financial crash would probably be too much for even gay marriage support to have overcome, but 2010 would have probably been an even worse bloodbath, and the Constitution would probably have a 28th Amendment attached that would resolve the dispute.

            • Scott Lemieux

              The idea that SSM was a major issue in 2008 or that an anti-SSM constitutional amendment could have passed in 2013 is fucking insane.

              • djw

                This claim is a nice reminder that KG really doesn’t have a clue about politics at all.

                To change the result, McCain would have needed some 10% margin state to swing, either Minnesota or Pennsylvania. (This also assumes we’re getting a smaller swing in some states that are probably more pro-SSM, like Colorado, which might be a tougher lift.) That would require almost 10% of Obama voters to switch to McCain over this issue alone. But you have to remember that a majority of Democratic voters actually support SSM by 2008. Let’s (very generously) assume 30% of Obama voters are marginally anti-SSM (one way we can tell, in retrospect, that these voters are marginal is that we now know most of them are on the verge of changing their minds on the issue, which indicates it may not have been the most strongly held, line-in-the-sand view in 2008). So we’d need at least 1 in 3 anti-SSM Obama voters to switch to McCain over this issue alone. (This assumes that there are exactly zero voters who’d switch the other way. I think this assumption is right, but in a world where millions and millions are switching to McCain over this issue, it probably wouldn’t be.) Anyone who knows anything about the current state of knowledge regarding the determinants of voting behavior knows this is a completely insane assumption. There’s virtually no conceivable contested issue that could cause this kind of swing. The people who feel so strongly about opposing SSM that it’s plausible it might swing their vote on the issue are virtually all already Republicans anyway.

              • Brian J.

                There’d been more than 30 SSM bans proposed in the states in 2004-06. All but one passed, usually by titanic margins. Even in OTL 2008, remember that Prop 8 passed comfortably in CALIFORNIA while McCain was getting slaughtered.

          • nick056

            Seriously, if Obama had come out for full blown SSM in 08 we’d be talking about McCain’s successor now.

            >>>>>>Leave it to KG to promote reductive fairy tales under an OP that confronts reductive fairy tales. Setting aside the rather unfortunate phrase “full blown SSM,” it was certainly Obama’s judgment that sometimes you need a public position and a private position. Whether that was decisive is completely unprovable but unlikely. However, it feeds quite nicely into KG’s belief that women and gay people and POC should shut up, shut up, shut up, but for strategic reasons, and not because he genuinely doesn’t care about their issues.

            • King Goat

              Fuck you.

              Really. I have many gay friends who now can marry because Obama soft-pedaled that issue, got elected, known, and then sold it.

              Do you think he ‘genuinely didn’t care about their issues?’ He did so much more than you and your self-righteousness.

              • humanoidpanda

                The point is that you have no way of telling whether Obama loses if he comes in favor of gay marriage (or more likely, says it should be left for states). My instinct is that he still wins, but maybe by reduced margins. Your certitude is moronic.

                • King Goat

                  My ‘way of telling’ is, first of all, I have some faith in Obama and his team. They didn’t take that position lightly.

                  Secondly, there are the state ballot measures on that issue then. Fuck, they couldn’t even win CALIFORNIA on that issue then.

                • humanoidpanda

                  1. But they also didn’t want to take position on this in 2012 until Biden forced their hand. No one ( besides you of course ) is infallible.
                  2. That proves nothing, as the question is not whether SSM was popul but how many voters saw it as a deal breaker.

                • King Goat

                  1. I have faith in the Obama team on this either way. They did give us two big wins.
                  2. We can never get that specific. We know it was almost universally a loser. I guess you could say ‘well, maybe it wouldn’t have been *too much* of a drag.’ But it was clearly a drag, then.

                • humanoidpanda

                  1. But as I just pointed out, Obama’s team really did misread the electorate in 2011: they thought Obama should stay uncommitted, until Biden forced their hands.
                  2. I agree this was issue would have been a drag. I say as much in my original comment. But from there to supporting SSM= automatic defeat is a gargantuan leap.
                  3. Re infallbility of Obama’s team: almost to man, they all signed up to support Hillary before the primary started.

                • News Nag

                  Goat, you are no genius. EVERYBODY knew Clinton had weaknesses that may or may not have impacted the election. That does NOT translate into a President Bernie (which I would have liked as well). You really have NO POINT.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  It is certain that Obama would have won, and I doubt supporting SSM would have cost him a single state. Maybe NC or Indiana.

                • djw

                  Posted in the wrong place above, so I’ll put it here:

                  The claim that a pro-SSM stance would have swung the election in 2008, let alone 2012(!!) is a nice reminder that KG really doesn’t have a clue about politics at all.

                  To change the result, McCain would have needed some 10% margin state to swing, either Minnesota or Pennsylvania. (This also assumes we’re getting a smaller swing in some states that are probably more pro-SSM, like Colorado, which might be a tougher lift.) That would require almost 10% of Obama voters to switch to McCain over this issue alone. But you have to remember that a majority of Democratic voters actually support SSM by 2008. Let’s (very generously) assume 30% of Obama voters are marginally anti-SSM (one way we can tell, in retrospect, that these voters are marginal is that we now know most of them are on the verge of changing their minds on the issue, which indicates it may not have been the most strongly held, line-in-the-sand view in 2008). So we’d need at least 1 in 3 anti-SSM Obama voters to switch to McCain over this issue alone. (This assumes that there are exactly zero voters who’d switch the other way. I think this assumption is right, but in a world where millions and millions are switching to McCain over this issue, it probably wouldn’t be.) Anyone who knows anything about the current state of knowledge regarding the determinants of voting behavior knows this is a completely insane assumption. There’s virtually no conceivable contested issue that could cause this kind of swing. The people who feel so strongly about opposing SSM that it’s plausible it might swing their vote on the issue are virtually all already Republicans anyway.

              • nick056

                Yes, excellent, tell me about your gay friends. I wait on bated breath.

                Where did I criticize Obama for pretending not to support gay marriage in 2008? Where did I say that was a bad idea? I only mocked your certitude that support for gay marriage would have lead to 8 years of McCain.

                There’s an obvious and palpable difference between the Tony Kushner-style advocacy of holding a private position and a public position (e.g. his script for Lincoln) and your anvil-like pronouncement that had Obama supported gay marriage in 2008 it would have resulted in a two-term McCain presidency. It’s smug and demeaning.

                That type of argument requires some caution. Would you say that if Kerry HAD supported the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 he would’ve won? That we should blame gays and their allies not letting Kerry go full bigot for Justice Sam Alito? How about, let’s blame Lawrence for Lawrence v Texas, and the MA Supreme Court for finding a right to gay marriage and creating a wedge issue that the GOP exploited?

                But why stop there? Let’s have some real fun. Grant said the 15th amendment was in retrospect more trouble than it was worth. Why, if only they’d been more moderate, we never would have had all these problems. That Booker T. Washington fellow had the right idea.

                Moderating your policy prescriptions has benefits and costs, and it’s a gamble that sometime pays off and may sometimes be immoral or unnecessary.

        • mattmcirvin

          Actually, no: the “further-left” faction lately has been complaining that we’ve been talking too much about gay rights, women’s rights and race, and not enough about economic redistribution.

      • btfjd

        That’s one way to look at it, and I think that’s why the DLC took over the party after three straight landslide Presidential losses in 1980, 1984, and 1988 and moved to the center. But isn’t it just as likely that for the past several cycles Dems have lost because they have abandoned or at least soft-pedaled their bread and butter issues? Go back to the New Deal economics and the Great Society social issues, combine with appealing candidates and good messaging, and I think you’ve got a winning combination.

    • mattmcirvin

      As far as I can tell, there’s a faction that wants us to speak out more on economics and a faction that wants us to speak out more on social issues, and they’re at each other’s throats.

      • Spiny

        I think this is true on social media. I think it’s less true with the activist movements running around in the wild. The anti-Trumpcare movement was a useful example of economics-focused and social justice-focused factions uniting around a goal that clearly benefited both. Hopefully this type of work will limit the extent to which the obsessions of liberal-left thinkers infects the habits of the broader left.

  • but this doesn’t support burning anything down, so you are clearly a neoliberal establishmentanian.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      And globalizer!

    • Ithaqua

      I think it supports starting a huge fire to melt the golden statue of Gorgias and sacrificing a goat in it. But then I think a lot of things support that.

      • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

        COTD. Shut er down.

    • brucej

      That’s warmongering neoliberal establishmentarian to you, cleek!

  • And as they try to get votes at the margin, Democrats are better off trying to mobilize turnout from their own base than trying to attract disaffected Republicans.

    This * 1000.

    Stop trying to fucking win over Republicans. Ain’t gonna happen. Better to motivate our own base and do what it takes to get them to the polls (and protect their right to vote).

    • Better to motivate our own base and do what it takes to get them to the polls (and protect their right to vote).

      I just starting to type the exact same thought, especially that critical last part.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      “Stop trying to fucking win over Republicans. Ain’t gonna happen.”

      I don’t see how hard it can be, they’re only convinced we like killing babies, hate America and the family and God.

      • humanoidpanda

        You do realize that the election Iowa election Scott was gloating about featured a number of republicans ( defined as people who voted for Trump) voting for the local Democrat ?Or do you figure there are legions of minority voters just waiting to be activated in rural Iowa?

        Seriously guys: there is no world where Democrats can hold national power without improving their numbers with icky rural/ exurban white people. anyone saying otherwise is delusional.

        • Bluesmank

          Perhaps, but it turns out you only need about 80K in three states.

          • humanoidpanda

            That gives you the presidency, sure (albeit on the thinnest of margins not likely to repeat itself against a stronger opponent). But not Senate and definitely not House or state houses.

            • Bluesmank

              Perhaps not, but for how the 2016 GE was such a horror show, the Democratic party still won seats in both houses. Plus, I seem to remember a few short years ago having a majority in the House and a super majority in the Senate.

              How many icky rural/ exurban white people did that take?

              • humanoidpanda

                A lot? Democrats controlled 40% of House seats in the South in 2008!

                And while gaining seats was nice, the Dems gained 6 house seats while they thought they will win 15, and lost at least two senate races they thought they will win (Pa and WI).

                • Joe Paulson

                  The last part is telling if the problem in those two states was allegedly “Hillary Clinton.”

                • humanoidpanda

                  To some extent, sure, but the margins were so thin that’s is plausible that a stronger candidate or no Comey letter drags them over finish line.

                • Joe Paulson

                  To take one, Feingold lost by the not so thin 3.4% margin while Clinton lost by .7%. Close numbers can go various ways, but seems to me something greater than Clinton is at issue here.

                • humanoidpanda

                  Seems to me that what happened is Dems got hosed from two sides:
                  1. Romney voters who switched to HRC voted Johnson because they wanted him to constrain her.
                  2. People who voted Obama Baldwin made a clean switch.

                • Bluesmank

                  Not sure what you are saying.

                  By reaching out to icky rural/exurban white people, Democrats can gain a majority of southern House seats?

                  And, doesn’t Feingold losing in WI support the argument that being a ‘true progressive’ and reaching out to icky rural/exurban white people doesn’t work?

        • BWF

          Seriously guys: there is no world where Democrats can hold national
          power without improving their numbers with icky rural/ exurban white
          people. anyone saying otherwise is delusional.

          I absolutely agree that we need to improve how many rural voters we can win. The question is: what means do we use to achieve this?

          Some of the details for this are tricky and are areas for inevitable disagreement. What does work is: get good candidates to run for offices like these (and by all accounts Miller is such a candidate), have a good grassroots organization, and motivated people living in the community to work towards successful elections. In other words, a bottom-up approach, not a top-down approach.

          What doesn’t work: being sheepish about being a progressive Democrat. Our right-wing opponents will demonize for this anyway, so the best route is to own our party affiliation. Also what doesn’t work: assuming that everyone in the rural areas is your cookie-cutter right winger (phrases like “icky rural/ exurban white people”, even if you’re being ironic, don’t help) and thus pandering to them by being insincerely conservative.

          • Joe Paulson

            You can win in some surprising places if you are a good/appealing candidate with strong progressive values especially if you have certain qualities that appeal to conservative voters (e.g., in some states, Democrats are sure to be pro-gun and God). Also, yes, if you run state-wide in the South, maybe you won’t be quite as totally pro-choice as one might like [parental consent or whatever], and sometimes you talk about that to say “see, I’m not one of those extremist” types. Meanwhile, overall, you are pretty pro-choice.

            • BWF

              To some extent, I think that’s true (but these issues are probably in that area of tricky details). I’m definitely of a big tent variety and reject the abortion litmus test notion for candidates as long as they can successfully win a Democratic primary. But, I want candidates like that to be able to frame the issues well (in a way that doesn’t demonize the rest of the party), and while they don’t have to be perfect on every issue, they need to support the large bulk of the Democratic cause.

            • humanoidpanda

              Right. The GOP has at least 4 high profile nominally pro-choice office holders (Collins, Murkowski, Hogan, Baker) and no one thinks the party is squishy on the issue.

          • humanoidpanda

            I generally agree with both points, but I think the second one requires strong qualification .One should always run as progressive Democrat, but it would be foolhardy to run in rural Iowa the same way you run in San Francisco (and even today, Democrats in, say, Philadelphia, run in a very different ways than Democrats in suburban Virginia). So, I have no quarrel with someone not talking much about guns or hedging on abortion.

            • BWF

              Agreed. Also, I realized that I’m not entirely true to all of what I said above in one respect… I’m reluctant for the party to push gun control right now. I hate that I have to compromise on this, but on this issue, right now, it’s still electoral poison in many parts of the country (where it’s not, of course, I definitely applaud those representatives who proudly stand for gun control measures). I think the fact that even background checks can’t get approval is a sign of how messed up gun politics are in this political system.

              Anyway, yes, the way that one runs as a progressive Democrat will be different depending on the local area, as it should be.

        • Joe Paulson

          It often turns on focus. So, much of your efforts are not going to be aiming to obtain marginal Republicans. But, especially in certain places, marginal votes will matter, including conservative Democrats that aren’t much different from Republicans in certain cases. Not all Republicans think abortion is murder etc. anyway. I realize some are speaking in broad terms.

      • Thirtyish

        But Trump voters are the most important, interesting, valuable snowflakes in existence, and Democrats must do everything possible–including cease meaningfully being Democrats if it comes down to it–in order to attract them.

        Signed,
        A Concerned Commentator in the Public Media

    • efgoldman

      Democrats are better off trying to mobilize turnout from their own base than trying to attract disaffected Republicans

      The best we can hope for from the mouth-breather, knuckle-dragging “base” is that a significant number get discouraged and don’t vote. They won’t cross over, especially if there’s a woman and/or minority on the Dem ticket.
      It’s all in GOTV, although these next two cycles offer opportunities for waves (not predicting one, just suggesting one is out there if we can catch it)

    • King Goat

      You don’t so much as ‘win over Republicans’ as ‘not energize their base for them.’

    • Brian J.

      True, but that base is not the pseudo-socialist left. It’s the black and Hispanic community, especially the older women, many of whom are rather conservative on moral and economic issues. They’d go Republican if the GOP would give them even half a chance, but maintaining their coalition precludes that.

  • xq

    This seems like something of a strawman? Nate Cohn acknowledges the recall problem in his article on this and doesn’t base his argument primarily on such polls: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/28/upshot/a-2016-review-turnout-wasnt-the-driver-of-clintons-defeat.html

    If Obama-Trump voters are just normal Republicans who idiosyncratically voted for Obama, why was the education gap among whites much larger than ever before?

    • i haven’t met any intelligent “conservatives” who will admit to voting for Trump. maybe they sat out and new “conservatives” stepped up?

      • aab84

        I can only speak for elite lawyers, but the ones I know genuinely avoided Trump in large numbers and voted for either Clinton or Johnson. There were also reports of crazy turnout in, e.g., rural Florida counties, to the extent that Trump got more votes there than the total number of votes for all candidates in prior elections.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          That Florida turnout is either zeal…. or fraud!

          • gwen

            it’s florida, drunken stupidity is also always an option

            • DAS

              In FL, however, they set up the voting in such a way that only drunken and stupid white Christian people can successfully vote. They find ways to make sure that ballots in less than white (and even in less than Christian areas in some cases) neighborhoods are confusing or that voting equipment is somehow substandard.

              When I lived in Tally as a post-doc, the trick they used in Northern FL is that the ballots were optically scanned. The scanning machine would reject any ballot that had any stray marks on it. You had to mark the ballots with crappy markers that left stray marks unless you were super-duper-shmooper careful. If you lived in a majority white county, the machine was programmed to spit out your ballot so you could vote again (hopefully with a new marker that wouldn’t leave any stray marks) and your vote would be counted. If you lived in a majority African-American county, the machine wasn’t so programmed, so it would swallow your ballot without telling you it rejected your ballot. As the elections supervisor in a white but blue county, Ion Sancho blew the whistle on this and other tricks FL used (and probably still uses) to ensure that only certain people get to vote.

              • humanoidpanda

                Yeah, the fact Obama won the state in 2012, and Hillary lost it in 2016, after the scandal of endless lines in urban precincts actually made the GOP to retreat from some vote supression measure indicates that suppression is really not the entire story. ( also of note: the FL electorate was not significantly whiter in 2016).

        • DAS

          I know a Republican lawyer who voted for Trump because she really, really didn’t like Clinton; she said to Mrs. DAS (a fellow lawyer): “if we did half of what Clinton did, we’d be disbarred”. The idea that Clinton didn’t even do half of what she was accused of doing or that Trump was even more crooked than Clinton somehow didn’t enter into the picture.

          I know another lawyer who is big in mediation circles who voted for Johnson. This lawyer is one of those “I’m a moderate and anyways above political tribalism” types who nevertheless always seems to find a reason to oppose any Democrat.

      • DAS

        In my nabe (admittedly a deep blue neighborhood) there were a large number of first time voters (many of whom were immigrants from the former Soviet Union) who clearly turned out just to vote for Trump. So he certainly was getting people out who may have been registered to vote for some time but who never bothered to do so, because no candidate excited them like Trump did.

        OTOH, the committed Republicans in my neighborhood, certainly voted for Trump, even if they didn’t like him, because at least he’d sign bills they wanted signed and nominate the kinds of judges they wanted nominated.

      • DamnYankeesLGM

        There are a couple brilliant lawyers I work with who voted for him. Intelligent people can just have different politics.

        • Drew

          I work with a lawyer like that (although in a state Clinton won so that makes him easier to tolerate). I remember talking about it over lunch one day.

          “I was really voting against Clinton.”

          “Mmm, no, you were really voting *for* Trump.”

          And yes, intelligent people can have absolutely *insane* politics, and be cartoonishly racist.

      • xq

        This is the kind of thing you would see in voter file data, and, as far as I can tell, the people with access to that data do not think this is what happened.

    • tonycpsu

      The fact that Nate Cohn isn’t making an argument doesn’t make it a straw man, because it turns out there are a lot of people who aren’t Nate Cohn. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that a majority of folks aren’t Nate Cohn.

      Many arguments were made in the aftermath of the election that Hillary did extremely poorly “keeping” Obama voters, and many of those arguments cited polling the numbers of Obama -> Trump voters, under the assumption that Hillary should have gotten most or all of them. Turns out many didn’t, and among those who did, one would expect a significant dropoff given Obama’s anti-incumbent tailwinds, plus the fact that he was pretty much a once-in-a-generation political talent that’s not easy to just order up an updated version of.

      • xq

        Fair; it’s not a strawman, just not addressing the strongest arguments for the other position. The term “voter files” isn’t mentioned once in the WaPo article.

      • DAS

        How many Obama voters did Clinton “fail” to “keep” simply because they either were dropped from the voting rolls or because they weren’t inspired enough by Clinton to wait in a long line (potentially being late to work or late to pick up their kids, in either case incurring a financial penalty)?

        • FlipYrWhig

          I’ve never seen the numbers to back up my hypothesis but I have very strongly believed since Election Day that large numbers of people who wanted to be part of history by voting for Barack Obama First Black President never really gave much of a shit beforehand about other presidents, Democrats, policies, or what have you, and melted away again when Obama himself wasn’t part of the story anymore.

          • humanoidpanda

            The 2012 election begs to differ.

            • FlipYrWhig

              I wasn’t trying to imply that it was a one-shot deal. I was figuring that he had Obama-specific voters he could rally for another round, but that they weren’t voters who’d been particularly interested in Kerry or Gore or Bill C. before or Hillary C. after.

              • humanoidpanda

                What I would like to see is a comparison between 2004 and 2016 in the counties Obama won. Were there people who already converted to republicanism who came back with Obama and then got back to GOP? Or did Obama slow down the realignment of those areas and it resumed its course? Or did something happen in 2013-15 (BLM, etc?).

                • FlipYrWhig

                  Yes, I’d like to know those things too.

        • tonycpsu

          Many, I’m sure. Not sure where you’re going with this. “Why did Trump win” has a lot of factors, none of which completely explain it, but any of which could because of the small margins involved.

        • humanoidpanda

          Almost none in the areas that flipped from Obama to Trump, those being white and rural.

    • xq

      Milbank does something weird in this piece. He cites the Democracy Fund poll to make one point, then immediately moves to the Podhorzer analysis (which I didn’t read because the link doesn’t work) to make the argument that Obama-Trump voters are typical Republicans. But the Democracy Fund itself analyzed the ideology of Obama-Trump voters in great depth; why not cite that analysis? It got a lot of attention when it came out, and basically supports the conventional view; i.e., Obama-Trump voters agree with Trump on “identity” issues but are closer to Clinton voters on economics. In particular, their views on economic inequality are far, far to the left of Romney-Trump voters: https://www.voterstudygroup.org/reports/2016-elections/executive-summary

      • Rob in CT

        This is the “socially conservative/fiscally liberal” group that neither party has historically catered too very well, right?

        • xq

          Not exactly–they are far to the right on immigration but moderate on issues like gay rights and abortion.

          • Bluesmank

            ‘-they are far to the right on immigration but moderate on issues like gay rights and abortion.’
            In other words, middle aged whites of higher income levels.

        • Murc

          Depends on what you mean by neither party. The southern wing of the Democratic Party, the dixiecrats, catered to these people strongly for many years.

          You should look up some of George Wallace’s campaign materiel sometime. It’s deeply instructional; it’s about two-thirds advocating policies that today would be regarded as extremely socialistic, and one-third “keep our boots on the neck of the darkies/traditional morality/law and order.”

          It could be a blueprint for the modern alt-left.

          • Rob in CT

            I meant recently, Murc. Historically, you’re right.

            I guess the question is what is most salient for those voters. If they decide pocketbook issues are dominant, we should be able to get (some) of their votes. If they decide Whiteness (immigration, “Law & Order”) is more salient… ruh-roh.

            • Lord Stoneheart

              I saw an article the other day talking about socially conservative, fiscally liberal voters that I wish I saved. It argued that they went for Trump in 2016 because Trump catered to their white identity while also promising not to make any cuts to Medicaid and Social Security and the like. Goes hand in hand with people projecting what they want on candidate Trump because his positions were all over the place.

              I guess the test for how accurate this is will come in 2020 when Trump is on record of being a standard Republican in terms of policy.

    • mongolia

      If Obama-Trump voters are just normal Republicans who idiosyncratically voted for Obama, why was the education gap among whites much larger than ever before?

      something that isn’t talked about at all, but i think may have been a big negative for republicans in 2012, is that they didn’t have a real christian running that year. namely, romney’s mormonism may have been a big negative at the margin for getting evangelical/christian nationalist types to be motivated to vote. in 2012, you had muslim (heathen) vs. mormon (heathen), whereas in 2016 you were able to vote for someone who spoke the right-wing evangelical style in terms of hating the right people

  • Taylor

    I just can’t imagine Trump as a candidate in 2020. Either we’ll be in a post-Trump political universe where Maverick Ben Sasse will be trying to restore legitimacy to the Republican Party, or the politicians will be negotiating with the military to restore civilian government.

    After this week, I’d say the odds of the second went up.

    • DAS

      Maverick Ben Sasse will be negotiating with the military?

      I actually figure the GOP will eventually have to go with Nikki Haley. Outside of GOP judicial nominees, she’s the brightest and most competent of the bunch.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        And she is a great “Racist? Us?” card to play so the apolitical dopes and pathological centrists and the MSM can pretend that the GOP, 2007-2020 never happened.

        • DAS

          I was surprised the GOP didn’t somehow get her nominated in 2016. However, whenever anyone complains “why didn’t the GOP stop Trump?” or “why didn’t the opposition to Trump unite around a single candidate to more easily defeat Trump in the primaries?”, in addition to questioning the feasibility of that*, I argue … well, nominating Trump worked out for them, didn’t it? They won the presidential election and control Congress, don’t they?

          * suppose everyone but Kasich dropped out of the race: some Cruz voters would prefer Trump to Kasich. OTOH, suppose everyone but Cruz dropped out of the race: some Kasich voters would prefer Trump to Cruz. I don’t think there was any one GOP candidate that a majority of Republicans would have preferred to Trump.

        • SpiderDan

          You can color me shocked if GOP primary voters ever select a woman of color as their standard bearer. Maybe if Haley is up against a Jeb Bush or something, but if she happens to come up against another white nationalist, she has no shot.

          I think people are failing to realize that Trump’s success has exposed a path to viability in the new GOP. Trump is incompetent and corrupt so he will fail, but there is plenty of room for another candidate that will intelligently weaponize this resentment while using the same bullhorn-instead-of-dog-whistle tactics of Trump. If Trump is neo-Dubya, the new GOP powerhouse will be neo-Cheney.

          • humanoidpanda

            “You can color me shocked if GOP primary voters ever select a woman of color as their standard bearer”

            Ben Carson did well enough to think that a token model minority with actual funding and support base might make it through to show the libtards we are not racist. It’s probably going to be a black guy and not Asian woman though.

            • SpiderDan

              Ben Carson did exactly well enough to justify his inclusion in the primary, which is the point: he was never going to actually win, but his presence is a useful foil.

    • gwen

      “Hi Tom I’m reporting to you from the flaming ruins of what used to be Los Angeles and I have to tell you, I liked it better before the war.”

  • DAS

    I seem to remember that when I’ve made a point similar to the one made in this post, the response was that there are some precincts that went strongly enough for Obama in 2012 and for Trump in 2016 (and voter turnout was sufficiently high in both elections with enough of the same people voting in each election) that it definitely was the case that some voters, in key swing states, did in fact vote for Obama in 2012 but switched to Trump in 2016. If we won those voters, we may very well have won the 2016 presidential race.

    That being said, I fail to see how to win over those voters without losing other voters: e.g. the kinds of economically populist proposals that would excite those voters would have meant even fewer suburban voters would have voted Democratic. Perhaps a better approach would have been to have done a better job of making sure reliable Democratic voters could actually get out and vote.

    • humanoidpanda

      I actually don’t think it’s all that hard. Obama’s 2012 campaign and Warren’s general platform do that: attack inequality, Wall Street, monopolies, student debt, but thread softly on trade and taxes. In other words, attack the 1%, not the 10%.

    • mongolia

      the kinds of economically populist proposals that would excite those voters

      trumps economically populist pitch was to rip on china and mexico under the guise of trade, and make literally impossible promises on the economy – cutting taxes, increasing revenue, and increasing social safety net spending (though to be fair this is standard republican economic bullshit). essentially a white nationalist welfare state, which is what republican base voters want

    • mattmcirvin

      I don’t think economic populism is a loser at all. I just don’t think it’s a winner either. The real problem is that the only way to win those people back is to advocate for cops shooting black people.

  • gwen

    Why is it that we never hear anything about what Democrats have to do to win over / permanently convert #NeverTrump voters?

    If a significant share of the electorate voted for Romney and then Clinton, you know, we might want to keep those folks inside the big tent…

  • gwen

    Why is it that we never hear anything about what Democrats have to do to win over / permanently convert #NeverTrump voters?

    If a significant share of the electorate voted for Romney and then Clinton, you know, we might want to keep those folks inside the big tent…

    • Spiny

      I think journalists find Obama-Trump voters to be a more curious puzzle, and a sexier article topic. To justify writing about them, it has to be that they are relatively numerous and influential, so journalists assume without evidence that they are.

      Articles about NeverTrumpers are dog-bites-man stories in comparison.

      • John F

        “I think journalists find Obama-Trump voters to be a more curious puzzle”

        Yes, I know why some Romney voters voted for HRC, it’s really not hard for someone in my socio-economic position to figure out. I really don’t know why Obama voters voted for Trump except for some seriously disturbed MRA types and generic Clinton haters. I also don’t know why people fall for Ponzi schemes (I honestly don’t know- and I’ve deposed some of them, how they can fail/refuse to see the big flashing red signs THAT ARE ALWAYS THERE has always baffled me- I generally have a hard time having empathy for such people because no matter what I do I can’t put myself in their shoes. To me a lot of lower income/education level Trump voters come off as Ponzi scheme victims- they’re surprised that he’s trying to take away their health insurance and has appointed Goldman Sachs types all over- but how can that be surprising?

        • humanoidpanda

          Rational voters making the right call and careful investors putting their money in bonds make for boring stories…

    • DamnYankeesLGM

      Why is it that we never hear anything about what Democrats have to do to win over / permanently convert #NeverTrump voters?

      Presumably because they are a tiny amount of people.

      • mongolia

        also, the fact that most of the true #nevertrump types already voted for hillary, and a lot of them are really anti-anti-trump weasels who will never vote dem because they’re hacks

    • aab84

      One theory: they are distributed in unhelpful ways electorally. Clinton did unusually well in places like suburban NYC and the rich parts of Connecticut, basically the places where rich Republicans were turned off by Trump being gauche and disgusting. That’s the real Never Trump ground zero. But she won those states/places anyway, so those extra votes didn’t do much good, unlike Trump’s thin margins in the Midwest.

      It’s worth pointing out, though, that people are talking about those voters in the context of 2018. The strategy for taking back the house runs through places like Orange County.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        “turned off by Trump being gauche and disgusting.”

        Thank you. I’ve been feeling this since long before knowing he was an authoriarian and racist, too.

      • Rob in CT

        Yes, this is true. Clinton did peel off a fair number of R-leaning suburbanites. But they were in the wrong places and/or were outnumbered by Trump voters in the hinterlands (I’m thinking of, say, Pennsylvania here).

        Clinton doing well in Fairfield County, CT is one of those “well, that’s nice, but she was always gonna win CT” things. It was reasonable to go after those voters, because they exist in swing states too. But it didn’t work out.

        • John F

          Yeah, I live in an R leaning county that went HRC big time… but HRC was gonna win New York state no matter what.

        • DAS

          Clinton’s work dedicated to running up the count in NJ probably helped get Garrett out of Congress, so small victories, I suppose. But why was Clinton able to convince large numbers of suburban NY/NJ/CT voters that Trump was beyond the pale yet not able to convince enough suburban Philly area voters of Trump’s horribleness?

          • econoclast

            Did Trump win in surburban Philly? I thought his support was concentrated in the western part of the state.

          • Rob in CT

            I thought she did well in the Philly ‘burbs but lost because rural counties went hard for Trump?

            • DAS

              I guess she did (looking now, e.g., at Montgomery County election results, where Clinton did win big).

              • Craigo

                Up in some, down in others. And down in Philly itself.

          • humanoidpanda

            She did better than Obama in those suburbs, sometimes significantly so. Also, this is where the Comey letter really did a lot of damage: it moved fence sitters who dislliked both candidates towards Trump.

            Also, anecdotally, the Clinton organization in the Philly suburbs was not very impressive.

            • mongolia

              the comey letter also likely moved clinton leaners to not show up or vote johnson/stein, and republican fence-sitters to show up to stick it to criminal clinton

          • Hogan

            They’ve known him longer?

            • John F

              Yes- exactly.

          • John F

            Most suburban NY/NJ/CT voters already knew that Trump was beyond the pale, HRC didn’t have to work at that.

            One thing that took me by surprise was how so many folks in other parts of the country saw Trump as a “successful business man.” Here he’s long been seen by most as a grifter/conman/showman, his days as being seen as a successful businessman were long gone.

          • mattmcirvin

            People in the NYC area know Donald Trump very well, going back a long way.

      • The strategy for taking back the house runs through places like Orange County.

        The one in CA, or the one in NY?

    • DAS

      I’m sure my centrist friends have very strong opinions about what Democrats should do to permanently convert #NeverTrump voters: i.e. move more to the “center”.

    • sharculese

      In addition to what’s already been said, #NeverTrumpers only matter in the unlikely nightmare scenario where Trump makes it through four years of the presidency and still wants to be president.

      They don’t care that their party has been revealed to be a pack of snarling loonies, they just don’t like Trump. If anyone else is the nominee in 2020 they’ll breathe a sigh of relief and tell themselves that the Democrats are Still Worse.

      • King Goat

        “the unlikely nightmare scenario where Trump makes it through four years of the presidency”

        This shows sharculeses political naivity right here.

        Let’s make a bet sharculeses: if Trump is not the nominee in 2020 I’ll never post here again, if he is you leave.

      • mattmcirvin

        I think King Goat is right about this: Trump will almost certainly be the 2020 nominee, in the manner of nearly all Presidents. He’s not going to be driven out of office before then–if anything happens it’ll be second-term after he is reelected, which has a significant chance of happening, maybe even better than even, simply because he is the incumbent.

        • sharculese

          If he doesn’t have a heart attack.

          If he doesn’t just quit.

          If he actually decides to run again.

          Those are all huge ifs.

          • mattmcirvin

            True, all those KFC buckets might catch up with him. I believe he won’t quit, and he will run again, because as much as he hates the job, in his own mind he is Alpha Dog of the entire world now and he can’t do anything to jeopardize that–that would mean he’s a loser.

            • mattmcirvin

              …Also, he hates being President but he obviously loved, loved, loved running for President–all those screaming rallies! He’s still having them, and calling it his 2020 campaign! He wouldn’t give that up voluntarily.

              • sharculese

                You forget he’s a lazy wiener and a huge liar.

                “I accomplished more for this country in 4 years than any other President has done in 8. But what I’ve realized during my time in Washington is that government is not the solution. So I’m going back to what I know best: being one of the greatest businessmen and negotiators this country has ever seen, and taking what I learned as President to keep Making America Great Again.”

                That’s what he says when he announces he’s not running for a second term, and it lets him keep having rallies.

  • aab84

    The fact that these are Republicans who chose Obama in 2012, rather than just 2008, suggests that we should not underestimate the importance of choosing charismatic, telegenic candidates. A group that favors Republicans downballot by 15-30 points but is still voting for the black guy is most likely saying “I just really like that dude on a personal level.”

    • AlexSaltzberg

      Incumbency matters far more than charisma or whatever. An incumbent gets easy air time telling the voters how important they are. They also get to tell people to vote for them again, and people are already used to voting for them.

      Retaining open seats at the executive level is difficult because the out-party candidate can say “I’ll be awesome if I’m in charge” while the in-party candidate has to run on the status quo without the benefits of incumbency.

    • Jesse Ewiak

      Eh, Mitt Romney was literally, the worst person in the world for those type of voters. They may have thought of Obama as a “n-word”, but that’s still better than the guy who looks like the guy who shut down your factory.

      • John F

        Trump strikes me as the type of guy more likely to shutdown factories (via mismanagement if nothing else) than Romney… of course Trump will lie and blow smoke up their asses while doing it

  • DamnYankeesLGM

    Trump’s popularity will be a far more important variable in the 2020 election than the identity of the Democratic candidate.

    I think this actually needs to be justified. I think its entirely possible that we’re an an era where a huge, huge amount of people – especially on the GOP side – vote far more out of hatred of the opposition than they do out of affinity with their own candidate.

    I find it perfectly plausible to see a scenario where Trump has awful approval ratings and his base doesn’t even like him, but they fucking hate Democrats so much they show up to vote anyways. I mean, that’s basically already what happened.

    • yep. barring conviction, this is how it will be.

      his base already voted for the guy, knowing he was a daughter-lusting, serial-bankrupting, lying, pussy-grabbing, inexperienced scumbag. they didn’t care about that stuff last year, and they won’t care about it in 2020.

      • John F

        gotta peal off everyone except his base

      • aab84

        I think this is way too cynical. He has his hardcore deplorable base, sure. But lots of people voted for him because he’s the famous guy who is famous and also famous and also known as the guy from the Apprentice who was the Most Brilliant Businessman Ever and incredibly awesome at Making Deals and “You’re Fired”-ing every incompetent jackass and was going to “You’re Fired” other countries and do brilliant businessy things for America. I don’t know why we should assume that his demonstrated incompetence will be irrelevant to them.

        • well, they’ve already proved that their skulls are impervious to his obvious shortcomings. it will probably take something truly dramatic to get to them.

          the fact that his poll numbers are down now is basically meaningless because there aren’t any consequences to being unhappy with him. it won’t be until people are faced with the choice between him and whoever the Dems pick that polls matter.

          I think this is way too cynical.

          it’s my specialty.

          • humanoidpanda

            Even if one accepts Cleek’s fatalism (and I don’t), one also should keep in mind the other side of the coin: Trump won smaller share of the popular vote than McCain, and he won because HRC drastically underperformed Obama. There is no way he is repeating the feat of winning with 46% if the Dems are united behind their candidate.

            • …if the Dems are united behind their candidate.

              sadly, there’s a small but very loud industry working against that.

            • ExpatJK

              His popular vote performance is not relevant for winning the presidency. If the governor’s mansions and legislatures are any indication, it’s very possible that the Midwest has shifted to be very Republican, which presents huge issues for the Dem nominee.

              • humanoidpanda

                Given that Trump won the key mideeetern states by less than one percent, I’d wait a bit with declaring the midwest as lost. And the popular vote matters, too: he won PA, MI, WI by less than 50%…

                • ExpatJK

                  I didn’t declare them as lost, and also specifically referenced the statewide elections as a bellwether rather than Trump’s narrow victory there. I will say that if the Dems can’t make gains in Midwestern statehouses in the next election, then they should be very scared re Midwestern electoral votes.

                • mattmcirvin

                  I suspect that that part of the country has been slowly trending Republican for several cycles, though–this was just the one where it went over the edge. I don’t really see it reversing.

      • tsam100

        his base already voted for the guy, knowing he was a daughter-lusting, serial-bankrupting, lying, pussy-grabbing, inexperienced scumbag. they didn’t care about that stuff last year, and they won’t care about it in 2020.

        It wuzz lahk lookin’ inta a mirrah, ya see?

    • Rob in CT

      Cue Davis X. Machina’s line: he hates the people I hate, hand me the damn ballot.

    • Kevin

      Hatred does work, but as we’ve seen in some special elections in states, low approval tends to make people less motivated. So we’ll see which is stronger. History says the second, and that is being backed up monthly with each special election.

      • SatanicPanic

        There’s also a question of how effective he appears to haters. I weak-willed hater who can’t deliver isn’t going to be quite as motivating to them.

        • Kevin

          Hence his repeated “everything bad is fake news” hoping to trick people into thinking he is doing more than he is. See also his new FB propaganda staring Kaleigh McEnanny – thanks CNN, putting her and Lord and Liewendiousky (I don’t care that i spelled that wrong) on air was worth it!

          • humanoidpanda

            Which is why polls matter now: they clearly indicate that his attempt to will away bad news is not working.

            • Kevin

              Yup. “We need to focus on…” No, shut up. We can focus on everything.

              “What if Russia is a nothing…” No, shut up, it’s clearly having an impact, and why on earth do you think it’s nothing after EVERYTHING that has been revealed (including Eric Jr’s meeting, and Manafort’s FBI raid)? Also, Benghazi was “nothing”. It worked. This is something and is already working. So shut up, we can focus on Russia, it is helpful.

    • ExpatJK

      Yeah, I agree with this. I would see Obama’s 2008 victory as the GOP floor for the foreseeable future, and I don’t necessarily know that it will be reached again. I have a hard time seeing states like, say, Indiana, going Dem another time around in the near future*.

      *Ie the next 20 years or so

      • mattmcirvin

        I think the upper Midwest is slowly trending Republican, but the South and Southwest are slowly trending Democratic. Unfortunately those states are plagued with fierce vote suppression, dirty tricks and lower turnout in parts of the Democratic base. So it may be a while before there are more lasting results to see, but Virginia and New Mexico and probably Nevada have already flipped.

    • mattmcirvin

      Trump did get a significant edge with low-info voters just from being a major TV celebrity, though. This is, incidentally, where Mike Pence loses were he to actually replace Trump.

  • nick056

    Yes this 1000x. God help us from people who want us to believe that Trump peeled off some inordinate number of Obamacare voters.

  • corporatecake

    Maybe this is reductionist, but I wonder what percentage of these voters actually operate on a principle of “vote the bastards out”? I know that partisanship is strong these days, but I (living in rural Pennsylvania) seem to know a lot of people in the “mushy middle,” who have idiosyncratic views that don’t fit well under either party’s umbrella and seem content to vote for whoever they perceive as the “outsider” in the race.

    • AlexSaltzberg

      It turns out that the best long-term option for non-ruling political parties is 100% obstruction and try to make life for the population terrible under the ruling party or coalition. Or in other words — Republicans’ 2016 plans rested on denying Medicaid to their constituents.

      Most countries figured this out and offer parliamentary systems based on majority rule by a single chamber of legislators.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      In the aftermath of the 2007 financial crisis I was reading that for as long we slowly recovered, there would be a lot such voting.

  • Rob in CT

    You’d think in an era of increasingly polarized tribal politics, the % of crossover votes would be declining.

    Anyway, 9.2% > 5.4%, so while it might not have been abbey normal it was still a problem for our side because the other side lost fewer voters. Edit: and losses to 3rd parties matter here too.

    Thing is, we’re not gonna get them back by selling out key portions of our base, nor are we likely to get them back by proposing the perfect policy mixture (though we should strive to produce said policy mixture anyway!). We might get ’em back because Trump & the GOP will fuck up everything they touch, such that voting one’s white privilege distress butthurt is suddenly less salient in 2018 and 2020. Bonus points if our candidate is particularly charismatic/telegenic/gives a good speech.

  • FlipYrWhig

    In 2008, a larger-than-usual number of Republican voters went with Obama during an extraordinary time, when the economy was in free fall and an incumbent Republican president was deeply unpopular.

    What’s interesting here is that I don’t remember any popular analysts saying that Obama was winning Republicans because of “anti-establishment sentiment” or that sort of thing. (IMHO “change election” is different, although still tautological.) But in a lot of ways McCain ’08 was structurally equivalent to Clinton ’16: former primary foe of the incumbent trying to continue what their party liked about the outgoing administration while creating separation from its flaws. My hunch for why we didn’t hear about “anti-establishment” sentiment was that the punditocracy is unable to see McCain as anything other than a maverick outsider and unable to see Hillary Clinton as anything other than a shady scheming ballbuster.

    • Rob in CT

      Though the situation was pretty different in that the Bush Admin had multiple high-profile screwups *plus* an ongoing economic crisis on its ledger, whereas the Obama Admin… didn’t. O’s approval rating was solid. Dubya’s was bad. So there is similarity, but it’s much more Gore in 2000 than McCain in 2008, for me.

      Re: media framing… yeah, probably, that sounds plausible.

      • FlipYrWhig

        Agreed, more than anything Hillary Clinton got Gored. But I still think it’s curious that “anti-establishment” didn’t rear its head. (In case you couldn’t tell I think “establishment” vs. “anti-establishment” stories are and always will be poppycock.)

        • Rob in CT

          Well… I dunno. I think there really is a broad anti-establishment (and expertise, and more besides) feeling in this country (and this is a bad thing, IMO, even if you can find justifications for it). Trust in institutions is down. Things people don’t want to hear as “fake news.” Everything is rigged.

          And of course, as we know, some important things ARE rigged. There IS fake news, etc.

          • FlipYrWhig

            Those people are called “Republicans,” though, and they’ve been that way since Agnew. Democrats aren’t “anti-establishment,” they just don’t like the rapacious rich, and they’ve been that way since, I dunno, Al Smith.

            • Rob in CT

              Well, the more fervent Bernie supporters sure are anti-establishment/everything’s rigged.

              • FlipYrWhig

                Eh, that’s because they think the “Democratic establishment” is the same as “The Establishment” from beatnik/counterculture times, to wit, squares in suits.

      • mattmcirvin

        I still think the main thing that happened in 2016 was that racial resentment was at a high because of Trayvon/BLM/Dylann Roof/Confederate flags/Ferguson/Baltimore and all of the associated fallout. White people who voted for Obama thinking he was this nice post-racial guy and all that unpleasantness would be over suddenly found the heat turned way up, and black people saying mean things about cops, and they got scared and upset and voted for the most obnoxious racist around.

        Democrats could probably get some of them back by going full-on George Wallace, but it would be a stupid thing to do as well as evil; they’d lose more than they gained nationally. But it’s possible that the salience of all this stuff just drops because of other things in the news.

    • humanoidpanda

      One key factor is that Obama didn’t run as an anti-establishment candidate. Rather, he ran on the idea that there is a set of rational solutions to our problems, which is a very establishmentarian message. (his genius was to mask that basic agenda with a “change” message.)_

      • FlipYrWhig

        Obama had a go-to riff about how we can’t have the same Washington games by the same Washington players. Which pretty much means the establishment is failing. I agree that for Obama reasoning together is the solution, but I don’t think that’s anywhere on the establishment/anti-establishment spectrum.

  • djw

    I was wondering about this when that stuff was coming out.

    I suspect it was eagerly believed in no small part because some people very badly want to believe the 2016 outcome was more about the unique awfulness of Clinton than the unique appeal of Trump.

    • Rob in CT

      Well, it would be better for us if 2016 was about Clinton’s deficiencies (real or imagined) than about Trump’s appeal! Just pick a different candidate and presto! If it’s about T’s appeal, that’s tougher to deal with (because his appeal was “I’ll stomp on The Other, hard!” and we aren’t going to ape that, so we must beat it).

      • Murc

        I knew there was a reason I liked you, Rob.

      • djw

        That’s one of the potential motivations for believing it, but I don’t think it’s the one driving the phenomenon.

        I’m not generally a particularly optimistic person, but I nonetheless manage to combine holding a hunch that the ’16 outcome was more about Trump’s narrow-but-unique appeal than Clinton’s unique awfulness, while also remaining cautiously optimistic about upcoming elections.

        • Rob in CT

          Well, that’s reasonable, because even with said unique appeal, he won an EC squeaker while losing the pop vote.

      • I don’t think this is right. To a voter disinterested in politics generally, and not paying careful attention to Trump in particular, Trump’s appeal in 2015 & 2016 might have been described as “brash, pugnacious TV celebrity with a crude sense of humor.” In 1998, a lot of Minnesotans voted for Ventura for similar reasons.

      • randykhan

        Trump’s appeal easily could have a short shelf life, as it becomes apparent that he’s who he is, and not the guy that some of his voters imagined he was. Stuff like the current slap fight with McConnell doesn’t help his brand.

        • ColBatGuano

          Yeah, after four years (worst case scenario) Trump’s “drain the swamp, I’ll bring back your coal mining jobs and Mexico will grovel at my feet” shtick isn’t going to be fresh or believable.

      • mattmcirvin

        If the problem is that Hillary Clinton was uniquely the worst possible candidate, then the problem is already solved. We’re never going to run her again. But her most fervent haters on the left think the problem is more with anyone but Bernie.

    • Murc

      Er, how does this disprove that thesis, tho?

      If there really weren’t a lot of Obama/Trump voters, it is still possible that it was Clinton’s unique awfulness that kept Democrats from turning out in sufficient numbers to beat Trump.

      I’m not saying this is the case, but if Obama->Trump wasn’t a thing, that in no way disproves the “Clinton was awful” thesis.

      • djw

        My comment makes no claim one way or the other, and it certainly doesn’t claim to disprove anything.

        • Murc

          Hmm, that’s fair. I read into it things that weren’t explicitly stated. Although I might argue that when you say “people believed X, which isn’t true, because they also strongly wanted to believe Y,” an entirely plausible reading is “Y isn’t true either because of this.”

          • djw

            To be clear, I have plenty of hunches about the relative importance of Clinton’s uniqueness and Trump’s uniqueness, but I recognize their status as hunches. Trying to “prove” them through interpretation of attempts to analyze the voting data doesn’t seem like a particularly promising or fruitful exercise to me.

            This is one of the many elements of the Trump phenomenon where I think a bit more epistemic modesty is called for than we’re typically seeing.

            • Murc

              I agree with this as well.

              I can’t speak for others, but… not being able to figure this shit out is MADDENING. I’ll read an opinion piece by someone I generally trust that basically goes “we have to peal off some of the people who voted for Trump by catering to their needs in ways that don’t involve us selling our souls” and think “this sounds persuasive and seems well-sourced and well-reasoned.”

              Then I’ll read another piece by someone I generally trust going “Trump motivated an army of vile white supremacists and dupes. None of them are gettable in numbers large enough to matter; we need to push our own base and turnout higher in order to out-preform them.” And I will also think “this sounds persuasive and seems well-sourced and well-reasoned.”

              And that’s before we even getting into analyses of turnout, voter suppression, demographic change, relative candidate quality, and specific candidate attributes.

              All of those matters are important, they raise important questions, and I don’t fucking know how to answer any of them with a high degree of surety. There are a few things I’m tentatively sure of but not as sure as I’d like to be. It’s frustrating.

              • King Goat

                You’re too smart for that.

                Both parties nominated someone that most Americans didn’t like. It was a close race as a result, and one of the unlikables lost closely to the other (while closely winning the popular vote).

                The most important lesson is relatively simple: don’t nominate a highly unliked candidate.

                • Hogan

                  A lesson so important that it must be repeated, in almost exactly the same words, every fifteen minutes.

                • King Goat

                  If people didn’t keep saying ‘she was totally awesome!!!’ I’d never bring it up.

                • Hogan

                  Show me all the comments in this thread saying that.

                • King Goat

                  Not in this thread, but this morning it came up (I imagine that’s why your careful wording)!

                • Hogan

                  So you have to drag it in here as well, and everywhere else you go, because reasons.

                  The “in almost exactly the same words” thing might be worth thinking about. What was it you said below about insanity?

                • King Goat

                  In any discussion about why Trump won the answer is going to be ‘because he was unliked but not quite as much as what we offered.’ Every objective metric shows that, why ignore it?

                • Hogan

                  Because you’re doing it wrong.

                • King Goat

                  How’s it done? I’ve never seen you say it here.

                • Hogan

                  I don’t know, but what you’re doing isn’t working. For someone so focused on what works and what doesn’t, that seems . . . odd.

                • King Goat

                  Look, I get it.

                  A lot of people here backed Clinton. They knocked on doors for her, they worked phone banks for her, they’re true believers.

                  A lot of them wanted a woman President so bad, and they think any criticism of her candidacy is really misogynistic.

                  A lot of the people here are convinced that her embrace of identity politics and a very progressive platform was important, and that criticism of her is really criticism of that.

                  And a lot of people just naturally don’t want to think they made a poor decision that helped lead to the terrible current administration.

                  So there’s strong reaction to what I say. But you know what? Soft pedaling isn’t going to help either. I’ve seen this in my lifetime, what helps is that, when in 2017 we maybe lose VA and NJ, and then in 18 get whupped again, and then in 19….then people start to say ‘hmm, maybe my righteousness alone doesn’t cut it…maybe what that asshole guy said way back then is right, we have to start thinking more politically astute, more head than hear.’

                  That’s how we righted the ship from Mondale/Dukakis to Clinton.

                • Hogan

                  They say I’m a madman, Bart, but I’m not mad at anyone. Honest, I’m not. Most guys I just feel sorry for. It tears me up inside. I understand it. I feel for them. So I try and help them out.

                  Jesus.

                  Yeah. Yeah. I know what it feels like when things get all balled up at the head office. They put you through hell, Barton. So I help people out. I just wish someone would do as much for me. Jesus, it’s hot. Sometimes it gets so hot I want to crawl right out of my skin.

                  But, Charlie, why me? Why…

                  Because you DON’T! LISTEN!

                • King Goat

                  Stop being cute. Really. This isn’t a time for that. It’s a time where we’re establishing bigoted bans on entry to this nation, gutting environmental laws, undermining voting rights, eviscerating unions.

                  Like I said, I’ve lived through this before. How do you think we went from a party that really, honestly, thought Dukakis and Mondale were going to win, to one that said ‘hey, that Arkansas guy doesn’t please me in many ways, but I think he can win and help what I believe in ultimately?’

                • Hogan

                  I’m serious. You don’t listen.

                  Signing off.

                • King Goat

                  Some quote I might not get is serious?

                • spencer_e9876

                  “this morning it came up” != “people keep saying”

                • King Goat

                  er, yeah, this morning is pretty recent (many upvotes on that comment, btw).

                • spencer_e9876

                  “(many upvotes on that comment, btw”

                  I’m sure it was a tremendous comment. The best. People are saying that.

                • ColBatGuano

                  How do candidates become unliked and I mean all of them, not just the female one?

                • King Goat

                  Does it matter?

                  We know our candidates vary in their unlikables. And the more unlikables have a disadvantage. Choose accordingly, if you want our side to actually win.

                • ColBatGuano

                  You pretend this is an easily measurable and unchanging variable. You are wrong.

                • King Goat

                  Here’s what’s not pretend: Hillary’s unfavorables were at historic highs well before she was officially nominated. We can at least avoid that.

                • ColBatGuano

                  What were Dukakis’s and Kerry’s unfavorable’s before they entered the race? Why did they lose?

                • King Goat

                  They were not as high, that’s a fact, and they didn’t run (and lose) against as terrible a candidate either.

                  Look, I’m not ‘after’ Hillary. I actually greatly admire her in many respects! McGovern was a worse nominee, if you’d like an example. It’s just she was a bad pick. We need to absorb that lesson because it helps us move on! There will be candidates in the future that we think of as loyal, hard working party members who are unfairly smeared but who we must recognize are widely unliked outside us, the ‘base,’ and we need to be able to say, ‘I’m sorry, it’s unfair, but you’re not the best for us right now.’

                • Murc

                  The most important lesson is relatively simple: don’t nominate a highly unliked candidate.

                  I don’t disagree with this in isolation, King Goat, but you have made so many other risible claims over so long a time period that you shouldn’t be surprised when a lot of people here don’t take you seriously when you finally arrive at something with substance. It makes it seem like you got there by sheer chance rather than anything else.

                  For someone who likes to go on and on about unlikability and how we need to do what works, you are very, very bad at approaching a hostile audience. Indeed, you have created your own hostile audience. I’ve held the viewpoint that nominating Clinton was a mistake for just as long as you have, and while I have enemies and detractors among this commentariat, and while I have people who think I’m dead wrong in my analysis on Clinton, I generally get a much fairer hearing than you do because I have not managed to alienate everyone with an incredibly corrosive communications style, a tendency to make every single thread about my single hobby horse, and making ridiculous claim after ridiculous claim.

                  And I’m regarded by many as an asshole! If I can jump over this bar, that means the bar is very low. And yet you keep walking straight into it. I mean, fuck me, you do that in this very subthread, where you deploy
                  the strawmen of “people thought that any criticism of Hillary Clinton
                  was misogyny” in a reply to Hogan. That sort of ridiculousness isn’t going to win converts.

                  If you really, truly believe that you need to convince people to evaluate candidates differently so they don’t nominate Clinton 2.0, you are bad at this. Your efforts are, in fact, anti-efforts, and you should ruminate on them.

                • humanoidpanda

                  Exactly. I largely agree with Goat in his analysis of the election ,and still think he is either a jerk or a troll.

                • King Goat

                  And I think you’re a coward, and the worst kind, like the friend who says ‘you look good in that!’

                • humanoidpanda

                  Well, I do have a wife who occasionally asks me if I like what she is wearing. And I learned to deliver my opinion without telling her she is a fat, ugly disaster. Politically correct coward!

                • King Goat

                  Agh. My apologies.

                  I want to say when you’re constantly attacked by dozens of people with the most scurrilous charges you have your back up, and so forgive me.

                  But that’s no excuse. I’m just plain sorry for that.

                • King Goat

                  Murc, you’re not as far gone as many here, that’s for sure. And, deep down, you *know* how far gone they are, but you’re careful not to trip that wire because then you’ll be the one labeled a racist, misogynist, etc.

                  But look, when people are caught up in 1. a cult of personality and 2. not wanting to admit they were horribly wrong, there’s no soft sell. Better to keep throwing it up to them, and when they get smacked in the face by reality in 2017 when maybe we lose VA, and then in 18 when we get smoked, etc., then, only then, does the self-doubt that leads to growth occur to many ‘true believers.’

                  Thankfully, you don’t have to wait that long. Sadly, you feel the need to pretend otherwise.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      “the unique appeal of trump”

      I have a theory that a lot of the time the mushy middle elects the Big(ger) Swinging Dick. Truman over Dewey, Eisenhower over Stevenson, Reagan over Carter and Mondale Bush 1 over Dukakis, Clinton over Bush 1, even Obama’s elections over McCain and Romney can be in part ascribed to the fact Obama is just a cooler guy. And if you remember the clip of trump calling Ted Cruz a pussy and then strolling around behind the podium soaking up the applause, who in 2016 was going to out swing trump? No one

      • humanoidpanda

        “the unique appeal of trump”

        I am a lonely voice on this, but I strongly suspect that given all the misfortunes that befell Hillary, Trump almost certainly drastically underperformed a generic R in most places.

        • The Lorax

          Scott has made that case here before. Seems very plausible to me.

        • xq

          I believe this too. Lots of evidence for this; fundamentals-based models, Trump’s high unfavorability, large numbers of third party defections, high numbers of undecided voters until late the race.

          • humanoidpanda

            My device for this is simple: imagine a candidate that
            1. Gets raked by the FBI twice in four months.
            2. Has trouble uniting the party.
            3. Has a major gaffe and a health scare in last two months of the electon.
            4. Has a very effective information warfare campaign unfolding against them.
            5. Has historically bad popularity figures.

            In isolation, not knowing anything about the candidate and their opponent, what kind of a line would you give in their popular margin?

        • Craigo

          He underperformed House R candidates by a lot, and Senate R candidates by a bit. She matched House D candidates, and underperformed Senate D candidates by a lot.

          Percentages, not raw votes.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          yeah, could be. I’ll have a more fixed opinion after the midterms, seeing what these people (and I don’t think there is a yuge number of them myself) do after they’ve watched trump and the other Rs set fires for two years

      • djw

        I use the phrase narrowly, with respect to a narrow subset of the population (that happened to have an outsized electoral significance).

    • xq

      I don’t really get this? The main proponents of the Obama-Trump phenomenon believe it is more about Trump than Clinton. The divisions between Trump primary voters and other GOP primary voters (on education, racist sentiment, etc.) look like the divisions between Obama-Trump voters and other Obama voters.

      • humanoidpanda

        For the record, the main propagators of the Trump-Obama phenomenon are statisticians looking at county level results from Midwest. Now, the intepretation of that data is up for debate…

        • xq

          Sure. I think the evidence is more consistent with it being more of a Trump effect, though.

      • djw

        The main proponents of the Obama-Trump phenomenon believe it is more about Trump than Clinton.

        That may well be true; I encountered a few people who saw it as clear evidence of Clinton’s ickiness; too incompetent and neoliberal to hold the coalition together. We’re seeing a similar reaction in this very thread from a disturbingly tumescent barnyard monarch.

        • humanoidpanda

          I think this is a mixture of
          1. Reaction to Obamas second term.
          2. Trumps outsider appeal.
          3. Hillarys weakness.

          My instinct is that no 3 was decisive factor, but unlike rex capra, I don’t pretend to have all the numbers

        • xq

          Yeah, probably. I’d also say, though, that part of the reason it spread is that respected, knowledgeable people were saying it based on some pretty convincing evidence, and a lot of the pushback is kind of flimsy and seems motivated by a desire not to have to attract Trump voters. Like, Milbank’s conclusion is “the party would do better to go after disaffected Democrats”, which doesn’t actually seem obviously supported by the evidence he cites that there are lots of swing voters every election and they decided the outcome in 2016.

  • Noise voters gonna noise.

  • Kevin

    I never found the “Obama-Trump voters” persuasive. So i’m glad to see studies debunking it, always seemed a fantasy certain people were using to sell their already pre-conceived notions on how to “Win” going forward.

    • John F

      This study doesn’t debunk it, it actually supports it despite how Scott and the article’s author are trying to spin it. 9.2% of Obama voters is 6 million.

      • stepped pyramids

        It’s not the percentage, it’s how many of that percentage otherwise vote Democratic and voted for Bush before Obama.

        • sanjait

          My read of it was that it implies Clinton losing those voters is not exceptional, but rather, Obama getting those voters was the exception.

          • I read it as not out of line with the general pattern of variance in party vote switching.

        • billcinsd

          but that doesn’t change the fact that 9.2% of Obama voters voted for Trump.

  • King Goat

    So Trump got twice as many ‘switch’ votes as HRC, decisive in a close election, nothing to see here, HRC remains TEH AWESOME nominee (we weren’t wrong!)?

    • randykhan

      Oh, shut up.
      I’d have some more patience with these posts if nobody here acknowledged that Clinton had issues, but more or less everyone in fact acknowledges that.
      Also, I’ve yet to see an explanation of who would have been a better nominee. It certainly was nobody who actually ran, and most of the hypothetical other candidates who supposedly were kept out by Clinton’s machinations (or, actually, by her popularity in the party) wouldn’t have been any stronger.

      • King Goat

        This is very silly. You don’t refute that the Jags have QB problems by pointing out they started the best QB on the roster.

        However much you spin, we nominated a candidate with historically high unfavorables. That’s just not saying something good about that nomination.

        • postmodulator

          I’m going to ask this again, because the fact that you never engage it is simply mind-numbingly intellectually dishonest, and I’m on the fence about blocking you.

          If one of your issues with HRC is that she was under investigation, as you have said frequently and as recently as yesterday, how do you address the fact that any Democratic candidate can be “under investigation?”

          • King Goat

            That’s an easy answer. Not every Dem candidate has done things that warrant investigation.

            Seriously. If the GOP can so easily conjure such investigations then why didn’t they do it to, say, Obama?

            • postmodulator

              Benghazi, Fast and the Furious, birther movement…

              On Earth-4 King Goat spent all of 2009 telling the LGM comment section that it was “unprecedented” to nominate a candidate “whose citizenship was in doubt.”

              • King Goat

                But that was all talk radio nonsense. The FBI never stated an investigation into Obama. Why was that in your opinion, if the GOP can just conjure these things up on anyone, and they’re so potentially decisive?

                Our federal LE agencies still have some shred of integrity. You’re going to have face a hard truth, that HRC did something stupid that made their investigation, at least initially, warranted.

                • postmodulator

                  But the emailz were talk radio nonsense. Do you think the FBI investigation was justified? If not, it’s conjured up. If yes, then you have a problem with HRC that isn’t her optics.

                • King Goat

                  First, since you’re all about intellectual honesty, how about answering my question: if LE investigations can be so easily conjured up and they’re so decisive, why wasn’t it done to Obama?

                • postmodulator

                  A shorter history as a public figure and in public service meant less possible technical violations to get him on. By the time he was president a possible FBI investigation was harder.

                • King Goat

                  Come on. By 2012 he had had held elected office for 15 years.

                  But, I do think a great lesson of the HRC nomination is: don’t nominate people with decades records (especially in the national spotlight).

                • postmodulator

                  I answered you. You’re not answering me. Was the FBI investigation justified, or not?

                • SatanicPanic

                  “By 2012 he had had held elected office for 15 years.

                  But, I do think a great lesson of the HRC nomination is: don’t nominate people with decades records”

                  I mean, I guess technically 15 years isn’t “decades”

                • King Goat

                  I love how you left out the rest of that sentence.

                  Nothing dishonest about that!

                • SatanicPanic

                  LOL OK dude, you zeroed in on the real issue there.

                • King Goat

                  Yes, HRC and Obama had the same level of national scrutiny when they were nominees! lol.

                • SatanicPanic

                  No one said that. You know what, this is stupid, I’m just going to block you now, because your Captain Obvious posts have really gotten tiresome. Yes we know Hillary wasn’t the best candidate. Thanks. Bye now.

                • King Goat

                  Stick your head in the sand dude, that’s been working great for us!

                • Ithaqua

                  15 years? Who gins up FBI investigations of some state representative on Illinois? And.. everyone knew since 2000 that Clinton would run for president eventually, hardly anyone knew in even 2006 that Obama would be the candidate who should be targeted for the 2008 presidential election.

                • ColBatGuano

                  So, it has to be LE investigations that are critical? Or does 4 years of Benghazi not count?

                • King Goat

                  I think LE investigations > any Congressional investigation. Many still see the former as having more integrity and less partisan.

                • humanoidpanda

                  “But the emailz were talk radio nonsense”

                  No, they weren’t! The Obama DOJ opened an investigation into them within months of the issue going public.

            • SatanicPanic

              Wait, what? They didn’t investigate Obama?

              • King Goat

                No federal LE agency did, no.

                • SatanicPanic

                  Well that’s clearly all that matters

                • King Goat

                  Of course it matters!

                  The public is used to congresscritters on both sides saying the other side broke the law. Yawn.

                  But when our LE agencies actually take that talk seriously, they go ‘hmmm.’

                • SatanicPanic

                  Right. Ok, I’m going to go back to ignoring you, nevermind.

                • King Goat

                  Lol, you don’t see a distinction between Congressional investigations and federal LE ones. Yeah, only a troll deserving of ignoring could see that!

                • SatanicPanic

                  You know, you might consider that Obama had a different FBI director for most of his tenure. We already know that Comey is a hack, but maybe he didn’t see the point in going after a term-limited president?

                • King Goat

                  How does that change things? We knew Comey was in charge of the LE agency investigating her before she won the nomination.

                • SatanicPanic

                  You were asking why no one investigated Obama, remember?

                • King Goat

                  Uh, you do know Comey’s predecessor was a GOP official too, right?

                  No one investigated Obama because he didn’t do anything that would make our mostly independent LE agencies look into it. Clinton, unfortunately, did.

                • SatanicPanic

                  I do know that. I also know they are different people and only one of them has gone out of his way to show his partisan hackery in the last year.

                • King Goat

                  So what kept Obama from being investigated is the lifelong GOP official in charge of the FBI during much of his tenure had integrity and what made Clinton investigated is the lifelong GOP official in charge at that time didn’t.

                  If he was just such a hack, why didn’t he recommend charges?

                • Ithaqua

                  Because there was absolutely no, zero, none ground for such charges, and if he’d recommended them, he’d have been laughed right out of his job when the “evidence” was presented, and it would have looked to everyone like the Republicans were out to get Clinton by subverting the FBI into playing dirty tricks. Not a vote winner, IMO.

        • philadelphialawyer

          Who is “we?” HRC was nominated by the primary voters. If there was a “problem” with their choice, what is the solution? Convincing LGM posters and FP’ers that HRC sucked, if you could do it, and which seems to be your life’s purpose, would accomplish….what?

          Do you not like the primary process? Should we have more caucuses? More open primaries? More closed ones? A different way of allocating delegates? More super delegates? A more active role for them? Fewer of them? None? The proverbial smoke-filled room? Bring back the two thirds rule at the convention? What, exactly?

          Going forward, HRC is not going to be the issue. And we can’t really have a rule that says only candidates that are telegenic and charismatic can run for president. Nor can we have a rule that says a top notch Yale Law School lawyer, former First Lady, former Secretary of State, former Senator from a big Blue State, and former runner-up in the primaries, cannot run for president.

          I guess my frustration with you is not that you hate HRC. Whatevs to that, and get in line. But rather what is your fucking point? What is it that you want to see changed? What, if anything at all, on the constructive tip, do you have to add?

          • King Goat

            Do you think that primary voters can make a bad choice? For example, when the Delaware GOP primary voters chose Christine O’Donnell over Castle, was that a good choice? I mean, there wasn’t any impropriety in the process, it just was a stupid choice on their part, right?

            I have several constructive tips about how to prevent what happened with our disasterous nomination.

            Some have to do with processes (yes, I’d dump superdelegates post haste, they’re not totally decisive, obviously, but they matter on the margings).

            Some have to do with our thinking (never nominate someone with higher unfavorables than favorables or under LE investigation, no matter how bullshit you think either are they are political realities unfavorable to our chances of winning).

            • philadelphialawyer

              “I have several constructive tips about how to prevent what happened with our disastrous nomination. Some have to do with processes (yes, I’d dump superdelegates post haste, they’re not totally decisive, obviously, but they matter on the margins).”

              Fine. That’s a constructive, if not very novel, idea. I think HRC would have won if there were no supers, and probably would have sewn the whole thing up even sooner than she did, so I’m not sure that actually solves the alleged “problem,” but OK.

              But all this:

              “Do you think that primary voters can make a bad choice? For example, when the Delaware GOP primary voters chose Christine O’Donnell over Castle, was that a good choice? I mean, there wasn’t any impropriety in the process, it just was a stupid choice on their part, right?

              “Some have to do with our thinking (never nominate someone with higher unfavorables than favorables or under LE investigation, no matter how bullshit you think either are they are political realities unfavorable to our chances of winning).”

              is just more of the same from you. Obviously, primary voters can make a poor choice. If, by that, you mean that they can, and do, pick candidates who lose. Or who are likely to lose. Or more likely to lose than the other choice. But, again, so what? How do you stop them from doing so? You keep saying “we” and “our,” as if the folks here were the one doing the choosing. But we are not. Again, the total universe of primary voters chose Hillary, even though she had high unfavorables, and even though she was under investigation. They did it, not us. By their millions. Some of us liked Hillary, some didn’t. But we are not the end-all and be-all, and not even close to it. The “thinking” of LGM posters and FP’ers is not despositive, and not even really all that important, in the ultimate primary choice.

              Go to the masses, and proclaim your rules for the new and improved “thinking” re prez primary choices to them. Have at it. I think you will find that most folks kinda already know that unfavorables are not good, nor are LE investigations, and that, all things being equal, they will choose someone else if they can. Of course, all things are not always equal. This time, HRC was the most credible candidate in a three and then quickly two person field. And that counted for more than the things you mention, with most voters. But that was this time. Next time will be different, and so your new “thinking” may not really matter much. But, in any event, can you please stop lecturing us about it?

              As an aside, you completely miss the point about O’Donnell. The Tea Party voters in the GOP primary in Del. knew that Castle was way more electable, and that O’Donnell would probably lose. But they didn’t care. To them, Castle was a RINO, a hand picked seat warmer POS for Biden’s son. They did not want Castle, and didn’t really care that O’Donnell would lose to the Dem. So, from their perspective, the choice was not necessarily “stupid.”

              • King Goat

                Winning the Senate wasn’t important for the GOP that year? Interesting.

                And do you think every single person here wasn’t active in the Democratic primary?

                • philadelphialawyer

                  —winning the senate with rino’s was not important to the tea party, primary voters…”interesting,” as in odd, to you, but pretty clear to them…

                  —being “active” is not the same as being in charge….”we” don’t choose the Dem prez candidate…tens of millions of voters and caucusers do…

                • King Goat

                  =winning the senate with rino’s was not important to the tea party, primary voters

                  That’s…crazy.

                  “we” don’t choose the Dem prez candidate

                  Not by ‘ourselves’ but everyone here is part of that electorate.

                • philadelphialawyer

                  —-Crazy is not the same as stupid.

                  —-“We” are a tiny fragment of the electorate. And “we” have heard your pitch over and over and over and over and fucking over again. Law of diminishing returns? Take it somewhere else, if you want it to have any kind of resonance. Or is really just that you like to be prick and a troll? I’m voting for choice number two.

                • sharculese

                  King Goat is a sad broken manchild who really just wants to lecture us on how much smarter he is than us. He’s like a less skeevy slothrop. I just remembered I can block him now. I encourage you to do the same.

                • King Goat

                  The only thing sadder than ‘Im going to put my hands over ears now and say la-la-la’ is urging others do so as you do.

                • spencer_e9876

                  “The only thing sadder than ‘Im going to put my hands over ears now and say la-la-la’ is urging others do so as you do.”

                  But we’ve read this same shit from you ad nauseam for months now. You keep going on about it and when you do, you bring absolutely nothing new. There is almost no point to reading your comment anymore because we already know what they’ll say. So why not block you? Why not urge others to do the same?

                • King Goat

                  Look, the OP is about Trump’s win. I’m not going to ignore telling the truth about it, that we nominated someone as unlikable as he, because it upsets people here because they love Clinton to some bizarre, politically irrational level.

                  Let’s just take a second to look at the first point. It started with your answer to my ‘Hillary was a bad choice’ of ‘well, she was chosen by the primary voters, so there!!!’

                  And I said, don’t you think primary voters can make a bad choice? And I pointed to O’Donnell.

                  Now, instead of saying ‘yeah, that was a bad choice by the GOP voters, they could have had the Senate sans such bad choices’ you did some gymnastics and ended up with ‘well, given they’re values, it made some kind of sense.’

                  Jesus. Are you so invested with disagreeing with me, or defending HRC as the choice, that you can’t just say ‘yeah, from anything like an objective, rational standpoint, the Delaware GOP primary voters made a stupid choice?’

                • philadelphialawyer

                  Forget the Del voters. That was an aside. And one which you are incapable of understanding, because of your solipcism. Some folks really are purity ponies. Tea party voters are among them. They would rather stick it to a career politician RINO like Castle than win with him. Sorry if you don’t get that, and therefore chose a particularly bad example.

                  But, on the main point, I already fucking agreed with you that primary voters can choose a candidate who is bad, in the sense that he or she will lose the general, or is more likely to lose in the general than one of the other candidates. I am not “invested” in disagreeing with that none too incisive, actually rather fucking obvious apercu that you are so goddamn proud of, for some reason or another. Indeed, every single person in the universe already “agrees” with that.

                  “I’m not going to ignore telling the truth about it, that we nominated someone as unlikable as he, because it upsets people here because they love Clinton to some bizarre, politically irrational level.”

                  No kidding that you are not going to “ignore” that “truth.” That is the understatement of the century! You are going to repeat that “truth” in every thread from now until Kingdom Come.

                  But, again, you have no answer to the “We” part of my complaint. “We” here don’t matter that much. And “we” have already heard your critque of both Hillary and “our” choice of her. So, to repeat, what is your fucking point? We heard you. We agree with you that primary voters can choose poorly. Yeah, and? So what if some people here love Hillary too much according to your view of what is “rational?” How does that help us going forward? She ain’t running again. Other than unnecessarily pissing off the people who like her, what are you accomplishing?

                  You are an asshole and a troll.

                  Go fuck yourself.

                • spencer_e9876

                  “Winning the Senate wasn’t important for the GOP that year? Interesting.”

                  Yeah, you totally missed the point of philadelphialawyer’s comment there, and you probably did it intentionally.

              • John F

                I disagree that the Teapers “knew” that Castle was more electable, try interacting with Teapers, they “know” no such thing, in their minds their preferred candidates are actually more electable than the Rinos are.

                • philadelphialawyer

                  Wrong. Castle was a shoe-in. The fix was even in with the Dems. The temporary Senate seat was going to be the capstone to his career. Castle was way ahead of Coons in the polls. The idea was Castle would serve out Joe Biden’s term, and then Biden’s son would run. O’Donnell was a big longshot in the general, and everyone knew it. I actually happen to know some Del TP’ers and the agree with all of this. They HATED RINO, nepo boy, Castle, even though they were well aware that he would win the general.

        • John F

          King Goat, I was for Bernie in the Primaries, I believe that in fact nominating HRC was a mistake, we underestimated how badly 20+ years of attacks had poisoned the well and made her more vulnerable to ratfucking than other candidates might have been.

          But you know what? You are never gonna convince 90% of HRC supporters of that and rehashing this endlessly is completely pointless since she’s not running again. Moreover, there are no other Hillary’s she’s as sui generis as they come.

  • John F

    “9.2 percent of Obama voters supported Trump and 5.4 percent of Mitt Romney voters supported Clinton. ”

    Since Obama beat Romney by 65.9mil to 60.9mil, that would mean that 6mil Obama voters switched to Trump, and 3.3mil Romney voters voted for Clinton, that yields

    63.1mil for Clinton and 63.7mil for Trump- but Clinton actually got 65.9mil and Trump got 63mil…

    So aside from Obama>Trump and Romney>Clinton, Trump also lost other Romney voters- to Johnson/McMullen I presume.

    In addition Clinton would have picked up some 2.8 mil new voters?

    Something seems off about 9.2% of Obama voters voting for Trump, it really doesn’t seem to fit with all the other numbers- but if they did unlike Scott I would say that it’s a very significant number of voters.

    • sanjait

      There’s also growth of the adult population. Not sure what you think is off about the numbers…

      • John F

        If Trump picked up 6 mil Obama voters, lost 3.3 mil Romney voters, then he’s also lost another 700k Romney voters (To McMullen/Johnson/Stein) without picking up a single new voter (in what you note is an expanding poll). Or he lost 1.7mil Romney voters to not HRC and picked up 1 mil new voters.

        Anyway, no matter how you slice it, if 9.2 Obama voters voting for Trump while 5.4% of Romney voters voted for HRC that is not a “mythical voter”- that’s huge the Obama to Trump voters would in fact have been the single largest element flipping the election.

        What’s off is that the numbers do not fit the article, or the article does not fit the numbers.

        “Obama-Trump voters voted for Republican congressional candidates by a 31-point margin, Republican Senate candidates by a 15-point margin and Republican gubernatorial candidates by a 27-point margin”

        Trump voters in general likely voted for other GOP candidates by a 60+ point margin.

        The numbers say that Obama-Trump SHOULD be appealed to, and no small number can be appealed to, but the authors (and Scott) say, pshaw, “there is so few we don’t need to appeal to them and we can’t anyway it’s futile”

        • Craigo

          We’d know for sure if we could look at the same data as whoever, rather than taking Dana Milbank’s word for it.

        • humanoidpanda

          +1,000. The notion that there is only one type of Obama-Trump voter is silly..

        • kvs

          The myth is that there were vote switchers in unusual numbers.

          There’s also a problem with identifying and predicting who will flip their votes and what will cause them do it. Which ties in to a question of resources and whether it will be more cost effective to appeal to people who vote but don’t currently support you or people who support you but are less likely to vote. Plus, the geographic distribution of the voters you’re trying to reach.

        • sanjait

          If you want to reconcile and balance the numbers, you’d need to create a table that incorporated all categories of vote switching, including new voters and people who stopped voting who appeared in both categories. Lacking that an attempt to reconcile seems futile.

    • It’s in line with general partisan switching (<10%) according to the study ES

  • sanjait

    And how many of that relatively small number are just people who are uncomfortable saying “Madam President”?

    I mean, racism and sexism probably tend to overlap, but not precisely. I have yet to see any polling data exploring attitudes about gender compared to voting patterns, when this seems like a pretty obvious place to look for an explanation of Obama-Trump voters.

    • John F

      Trump did better among Hispanics and Blacks than Romney did, HRC did quite a bit worse (basically Hispanics and blacks vote fro Obama and Romney in 2012, a non-insignificant number pealed off in 2016 to vote for Johnson/McMullen)

      You will find MRA type assholes among all races and ethnicities- those men, even from groups that Trump directly attacked- voted for Trump, and the ones who couldn’t stomach Trump voted Johnson/McMullen.

      Obama won among women 55:44, Clinton won 54:41.
      Romney won among men 52:45, Trump won 52:41

      Obama to Trump voters are almost certainly overwhelmingly, male- and given the 2012/2016 education splits, males without college degrees.

      • Rob in CT

        The incandescant hatred for Hillary amongst the white dudes in pickup trucks in my town, man…

        In true blue CT, no less.

        • humanoidpanda

          This is apropos of nothing, but earlier today I was driving behind a pickup truck covered with stickers. I was thinking another asshole, until we stopped at a red light, and I saw the stickers were stuff like “Not to Trump, not to Hate,” “Kick out the GOP” etc. Never judge to soon!

          • djw

            I spotted a “Veterans for Sending Trump to Russia” sticker on a large pickup truck last weekend, next to the NRA decal.

      • Bufflars

        If I remember correctly from the exit poll data, HRC kept black women at their Obama levels and nearly so with Hispanic women, but lost black and Hispanic men by almost 20% compared to Obama’s percentages. I’m guessing that right there might account for a large chunk of the Obama -> Trump switch.

  • Murc

    While there may not be many Obama-Trump voters overall, I’d like to known what their specific geographic concentrations are. Specifically as regards Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Just because there aren’t a lot of them overall doesn’t mean they don’t occupy critical places.

    More to the point… if this is true this I’m not sure what it means. Trump still won, and that’s still really bad. If he didn’t attract a lot of Democrats, that means he either was able to attract a lot of swing voters and non-voters, that the Obama coalition regarded Trump as being sufficiently non-threatening as to not be worth strongly opposing, or that Hillary Clinton actually was incapable of securing gettable, necessary votes when it really counted.

    None of those are good things in any way, shape, or form. In fact I kind of hope the last one is the one that’s true, because Clinton will never run for anything ever again but Trump is still with us.

    • Rob in CT

      Other variables (you touched on this a bit): losses to 3rd parties & turnout.

      • kvs

        Also: her emails!

    • BWF

      While there may not be many Obama-Trump voters overall, I’d like to
      known what their specific geographic concentrations are. Specifically as
      regards Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Just because there
      aren’t a lot of them overall doesn’t mean they don’t occupy critical
      places.

      I agree. Obama-Trump counties (and, when easy to get down to that level, smaller voting units like cities and precincts) are much more interesting and important to study.

      My rough thesis so far is that most of the switching in these counties was due to greatly decreased turnout; that is, Obama voters not showing up rather than actively voting for Trump. And that could be for many reasons; unfortunately, one of them is voter suppression (especially in Wisconsin), which is going to be very tough to combat.

      • humanoidpanda

        But here’s the thing: people who looked at the voter file in those counties categorically say that this is not what happened. – there was no surge of non voters turning up for Trump. And of course, voter supresssion is not very relevant to those areas, because nearly everyone in rural WI,MI,PA drives..

  • JMP

    As a Real True Leftist, this still reinforces my dogma that most bigoted poor white people are secret socialists who want to vote for far left candidates, and so what the Democrat Party really needs is to drop Identity Politics and stop fighting against discrimination against women, minorities, LGBT folks and non-Christians.

    P.S. I am not a crank.

    • DAS

      Extra points for “Democrat Party”

    • NeoliberalBanksterCaptainHowdy

      “The problems of POC, women, immigrants, and LGBTs are solely economic” is the new trickle down.

  • The “Obama Democrats” thing was in part an attempt to explain an unexpected result.

    Last year a lot of political commentators were overconfident about Democrats’ chances of winning. There was a lot of talk about a built-in electoral advantage for Democrats, at least when it came to the Presidential vote. This was based largely on the fact that Democratic candidates had won the popular vote in 5 of the previous 6 elections. And now they’ve won the popular vote in 6 of the last 7 while losing 2 of those in the Electoral College.

    A lot of folks seemed to assume that Democrats could hold on to most of Obama’s gained votes, both from Republicans and in terms of African-American votes. It was not to be.

  • Llywelyn Jones

    It still remains to be explained why a Republican voter would not vote for Mitt Romney, who was created in a laboratory for the purpose of being a Republican presidential candidate. Contrast him with Obama in 2012, who had by then been smeared for four years as a foreign-born Muslim, the lovechild of Saul Alinsky and Jeremiah Wright, who was going to destroy America with his government death panels.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Favoring a restrained foreign policy?

    • bw

      I think the answer is probably, “they did vote for Mitt Romney, there just weren’t enough of them because Democrats still turned out in sufficient numbers for Obama.” In 2012, Obama lost about 2-4% of his 2008 margin over McCain in PA, OH, MI, and WI and about 1% of his margin in FL. It was still enough to win all of those states, but obviously a concerning trend for an incumbent party.

      • Llywelyn Jones

        Could it also be that hard-right Trump-types stayed home in 2012 rather than vote for milquetoast corporate conservative Mitt Romney?

        • bw

          Could be, though that is sort of a nightmare scenario because it suggests that much of this bloc also stayed home in 2008 and maybe even in previous elections. My biggest fear is that Steve Bannon’s gamble was right and that there was this huge group of previously nonvoting knuckledraggers whom Trump has now activated.

          • George Carty

            Perhaps Steve Bannon was influenced by the Brexit referendum, in which Leave won largely by appealing to reactionary older voters which hadn’t voted in General Elections since Tony Blair’s first term in office?

            • bw

              Perhaps. But I doubt it, because the US political cake was baked long before Brexit. It wasn’t exactly unknown among political commentators that the previous Republican coalition was an unstable three-legged stool that could collapse at any moment: you can’t preach economic policy that only yields rewards for the 1% and big business forever before a big chunk of your social-reactionary base gets wise to the facts that 1) this policy dogma isn’t doing much for them and 2) they vastly outnumber the moneymen and political class in the party and can wrest control of it from you.

              Discarding Randian orthodoxy (albeit in a limited fashion, mostly on trade) in favor of Bannon-esque nativism to win the primaries was entirely predictable. If Trump and Bannon hadn’t figured that out, someone in the next 2-3 cycles would have. And Bannon’s ideology didn’t shift in response to Brexit. He and Breitbart traded in racist garbage (“appealing to reactionary voters”) long before a Brexit referendum was a gleam in Farage’s eye.

              As for the strategy in the general election…to be honest I am not sure there was a coherent strategy beyond “do the same shit we’d do in any case because of who we are, after all, that won the primaries”. It seems like Bannon and Farage mostly got lucky: they didn’t really know that there were enough nonvoting crazies for them to win, and in fact in the US case a mobilize-the-crazies strategy very nearly failed spectacularly despite very favorable structural terrain for the GOP.

              • George Carty

                I don’t think Brexit could have won if the racist vote had not been galvanized by the European refugee crisis – was there any similar event that brought out the US racist vote?

                And “reactionary” doesn’t just mean racist. Trump also claimed he would bring back traditional industries lost to globalization, and both campaigns also appealed to supporters of traditional gender roles who were dismayed by feminism – that may be why a third of American Hispanics voted for Trump (and about the same proportion of British Muslims voted for Brexit), in spite of being obvious targets for racism.

                • bw

                  The Hispanic vote in 2016 was worse for the GOP than in 2008 and markedly worse than in 2004. It ticked up about 1% from 2012 – the figures I’ve seen were that Trump’s total was about 28%, not 33%. (Gary Johnson and others presumably got a big chunk of the other 5%.) That doesn’t sound all that off from what I’d expect given the economic/political fundamentals.

                  US Latinos are a diverse group, and it is not all that accurate to say that all of them were “obvious targets for racism.” Mexican-Americans in California and Nevada likely felt that way, and they crushed Trump in those states for it – upwards of 70% and possibly 80% of Latinos went for Clinton in those states. Latino anti-Trump mobilization may have put Nevada out of reach for Republicans for decades to come. But things are different for, say, Cubans in Florida, who are numerous, economically comfortable, and tend to turn out to vote.

                • George Carty

                  Florida’s Cubans are sui generis of course – they are very right-wing because their ancestors fled from Castro – but didn’t GWB do better among Hispanics than a generic Republican candidate would have?

                • bw

                  Probably, because of the Texas thing and speaking (barely) passable Spanish among other things, but extrapolation of a trendline is really difficult in this case because of the rapid growth of the population.

                  http://latinovotematters.org/stats/

                  I don’t know what the breakdown is for these stats by state but my sense is that Latinos in California were, if not particularly fond of Republicans in the 1980s, not implacably opposed to them either. Then 1994 and Proposition 187 happened and the result was the complete destruction of the California GOP (Arnold Schwarzenegger is an outlier case and doesn’t count). That has to be a factor in any analysis of a trend in how Latinos voted nationally or what the “baseline” expectations for the GOP Latino vote are.

  • The important thing a lot of people miss here is that the 9% and 5% or whatever isn’t indicative of anything by itself. What matters is does that show a significant change from the amount you would generally expect. The authors claim it doesn’t.

    • John F

      The important thing you, and the authors are missing is that 9% to trump versus 5 % to HRC, if true, would in fact establish that Obama to Trump voters are who threw/flipped this election to Trump.

      And polling error in 2016 was in line with historical norms, so what? The fact that they got it wrong running the WRONG way is what’s important.

      • If one party wins it’s either because they got people who didn’t vote before to vote or they got people to switch votes, that’s an empty truism.

        Obama got an oddly high number of switchers, the trend regressed to the mean. There are thousands of factors that went into this, pick any and gaze at it and lament all you want, but it’s not unusual or profound.

        • xq

          The size of the education gap was unprecedented. It’s not just that there were a large number of switchers but that particular, identifiable groups swung in very different ways. Big shifts all around the country correlated with education: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/education-not-income-predicted-who-would-vote-for-trump/

          This is quite unusual. Whites with and without college degrees generally swing the same way between elections: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/09/behind-trumps-victory-divisions-by-race-gender-education/

          • That could well be the case. But bear in mind, if you partition the electorate in 10 arbitrary ways, you’d expect a once in 40 year spike to happen in at least one of the groups each election.

            Couple this with the fact we’re dealing with very uncertain estimates and you have to discount any observed difference pretty heftily.

            • xq

              Not necessarily? You seem to be working with an implicit model I disagree with. There have been other large demographic swings in US history (Bush’s success with Hispanic voters in 2004; Obama’s ability to increase black turnout in 2008 and 2012) but I think these all have real causal explanations that are worth studying. It’s not like there’s a random number generator that decides how demographic groups vote. Large, unusual swings have important causes.

              • You seem to be saying 4 of the last 4 (or, charitably 3 of last 4) elections have had novel shocks which determined the outcomes. Let’s add in the post-Perot failure of Gore to get Tennessee, Perot himself, the “Morning in America” boost, the Iran hostages, the Nixon resignation, the effectiveness of the Southern/sunurban strategy, the late sixties riots and Vietnam, the Goldwater insurgency (“In your guts you know he’s nuts!”) … shit, it looks like unpredictable events that determine elections are a rather common occurrence.

                • xq

                  No. Obama’s success among black voters did not determine either of his elections. And I’m not talking about the fairly uniform swing that’s responsive to economic conditions or events in every election. I’m saying large demographic-specific swings in a single election are significant and worth paying attention to. They are not regressions to the mean and they are not noise. They are a loud signal that something was different.

                • You can cut up the demographics however you like to make the inevitable swing in yearly elections look “demographic specific”. If you had been tracking whites without college degrees for the last 40 years and said “whoa, this year is different” that’d be one thing. But to see a big swing in that demo and the retrospectively compare it to previous years as though that is the same thing as having been monitoring it all along as a hypothesis is the epitome of shit science/ p-hacking style data mining.

                  If the trend holds for 2 or 3 election cycles then you’ll have legit science, as it is it’s a “just-so” story par excellence, at least in regards to the quantitative data analysis.

                • xq

                  Thinking about this in terms of “p-hacking” doesn’t make any sense. This isn’t a study with a sample size of 100. There’s a tremendous amount of evidence from hundreds of different polls for the education swing, as well as county-level analysis. The p-value is zero. There is no disagreement among experts that this occurred.

                  It’s not a “just-so” story either. A just-so story is a type of explanation. That there was a large education swing, and that this is unusual and important, is merely an observation.

                • There’s and unusual and (arguably) important swing damn near every election.

                  If you’re an historian describing specific events it’s interesting, if you’re a scientist looking for meaningful generalizable patterns, it’s not.

                • xq

                  But science is not uninterested in unique, notable events. Like, that Obama appears to have substantially increased black turnout in 2008 and 2012 is important to understanding candidate effects on turnout. You can say it’s a “just-so” story–maybe it was just a coincidence that black turnout increased those years–but I think that’s kind of silly! Note we do have other data than voting behavior itself that helps us interpret these swings, like opinion polling; we’re not forced to just speculate wildly (even though that’s what most pundits do with this info).

                • Science is absolutely indifferent to unique events. If an event is unique or singular, it’s not generalizable and so not amenable to scientific investigation.

                  Unless you have repetitions of events under varying conditions you have no scientific basis for determining how those conditions affected the events–all you have is from the scientific perspective are speculations.

                  And whether or not one set of speculations is more plausible than another in that case has to be judged by a criteria outside of science.

                • xq

                  You’re just wrong about this as an empirical matter of what scientists study–search your favorite academic database and you can find plenty of studies from respected scientists that attempt to explain phenomena that occurred over a single election. Many studies assess Obama’s effect on turnout in 2008, for example. Biologists study unique evolutionary events; geologists study unique geological events. Medicine is interested in single-sample case reports for rare events. Your conception of science is overly limited.

                • I know plenty of scientists who play tennis, that doesn’t make tennis science.

                  Medicine applies science, but is not itself science. You can use science while doing history, which sounds to me is what you’re actually defending. But in science, individual cases have to be investigated the context of similar cases, which is what the authors did and found it wasn’t unusual.

                  You’re speaking about the election like it uncovered a black swan, which would be interesting in the context of a world that has only sceen white swans, according to the author’s analysis it’s just another multicolored peacock–and they vary and this one didnt vary significantly more than we’ve come to expect.

                  If your a scientist obsessing over the particular plumage of a particular peacock, which the numbers tell you is unremarkable but by God it looks special to you, you’ve gone off the rails somewhere along the way and stopped doing science.

                • xq

                  Medicine is a science.

                  The claim you are making, as far as I understand it, seems deeply strange to me. You’re saying: if we find one highly anomalous aspect to this election, and the last 10 elections were completely as expected, worth studying! But if we find one highly anomalous thing in this election, and a completely different anomalous thing in 2008, and yet another deviation in 2004 along another completely different axis, then none of these are worth studying. But there’s no actual basis for this! That Obama increased black turnout does not impede in any way our ability to quantify or explain the extent to which Trump lost educated and gained uneducated white voters. There’s just no relation between these things.

                  I think I know where you’re coming from–you’re misunderstanding the point of “garden of forking paths” (http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~gelman/research/unpublished/p_hacking.pdf)

                  Garden of forking paths is really a sampling error issue. You take a small sample from the population, it will be non-representative in various ways due to sampling error, and so if you take enough different tests you will find an association that does not exist in the real population. But that’s not a problem here. In aggregate, there was enough polling in 2016 that sampling error is just not a big deal. It’s not like the education gap was just found in a single poll. Besides, there’s also the county level data which is not based on samples.

                  Anyways, you concede that the education swing was real. But the entire line of thought you seem to be drawing from is about the right and wrong ways to draw inferences from sample data to real populations. If you agree the effect is real, it’s no longer applicable. There’s no rule you can only study real effects if they are larger than some other selection of real effects. If it’s real, it has some cause, and is probably worth studying.

                • My contention is that if it isn’t larger than we generally expect the largest shift among the demographic partitions to be, then a single instantion isn’t enough to draw scientific conclusions from. The question at hand would be: was the shift in that specific demographic significantly larger than what we’d expect the largest to be in a given election among demographics. And then we run into the methodological problem that we’re defining our demographics and analyzing them retrospectively on the same data, which brings a mountain of its own caveats.

                  A net shift of ~4% from one party to another is nothing out of the ordinary. You can delve into it and discover some correlation among the shifters, but to draw a conclusion from that requires more than a single observation. The fact that we’re analyzing this normal shift so deeply is due to motivations outside impartial science, whose criteria wouldn’t warrant digging around into such a normal observed voter shift. If you find strong correlation digging through the data, you have to take it with a grain of salt and wait for more independent data to draw a real conclusion.

                  It could be that there’s going to be a trend of uneducated white voters to the GOP like there was of black voters to the Dems after the Civil and Voting rights acts. Or it could be a one off blip. If it’s a one off blip it’s not in itself amenable to scientific analysis in the context of predictive trends and so any conclusion drawn from it should be highly limited in how much it informs our decision making.

            • xq

              Not necessarily? You seem to be working with an implicit model I disagree with. There have been other large demographic swings in US history (Bush’s success with Hispanic voters in 2004; Obama’s ability to increase black turnout in 2008 and 2012) but I think these all have real causal explanations that are worth studying. It’s not like there’s a random number generator that decides how demographic groups vote. Large, unusual swings have important causes.

    • xq

      “9% and 5% or whatever isn’t indicative of anything by itself”

      It’s an important part of the response to the common claim that presidential elections are all about turning out the base.

  • Bitter Scribe

    Trump’s popularity will be a far more important variable in the 2020 election than the identity of the Democratic candidate.

    Famous last words…

    • Damon Poeter

      My bar napkin calculus is that the Dem candidate should be someone fresh, very baggage free, and not famous for something unrelated to being a policy/government dork. This assumes that Trump is running for re-election.

      • John F

        My random guess is that 2020 will be the perfect year to run a boring technocrat.

  • Downpup E

    This is so marginal & 2020 I spit it out.
    The focus must be on the present fights, and the ultimate total crushing of the Republican Party. Crush, Kill, Destroy!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1uh13Ebzjk

  • People are really caught in a “median voter” mindset where elections are decided by a competition over voters who might go one way or another. It’s tougher to grapple with most people having fairly fixed party preferences, and the contest being about whether they turn out or not.

  • Damon Poeter

    So anecdotally, in my small orbit I know a handful of Obama-Romney-Johnson/DNVs, a shitload of Obama-Obama-Clintons, a lot of McCain-Romney-Trumps, a vocal group of McCain-Romney-Johnsons, a distressing but small number of Obama-Obama-Stein/DNVs, a smaller but at least kinda more consistent Obama-Green*/DNV-Stein/DNVs, and a few very consistent Libertarian-Libertarian-Libertarians/Green-Green-Greens, and DNV/DNV/DNVS. I do not think I know any Obama-Obama-Trumps. I suspect some I know went Obama-ROMNEY-Trump but none have fessed up.

    *I can’t be arsed to look up if Stein was the Green candidate in 2012

  • George Carty

    The “blue wall” that crumbled in 2016 to hand the presidency to Trump still voted for Gore and for Kerry even though (assuming this analysis is correct) the future Obama-Trump voters were then supporting George W Bush. This implies that these states were slowly turning red since 2000, but that this was temporarily obscured by Obama’s anomalous popularity.

    What was driving this shift towards the the Republicans? Right-wing propaganda from Fox News and talk radio, or outmigration of young liberals to the coasts and Chicago (and perhaps boomer resentment about this youth flight)?

  • jpgray

    How is this a myth? Let’s look at just IA:

    2008 – 53.93 D, 44.39 R
    2012 – 51.99 D, 46.18 R
    2016 – 41.74 D, 51.15 R

    From 2016 to 2012, we have a tiny drop from 828k D votes to 822k – then in 2016 we collapse to 653k.

    Again, you get the feeling reading the posts and comments here sometimes that you’re reading the thoughts of a weird alien who doesn’t really understand how human beings think and feel, that talent for inspiration, for captivating the imagination of voters, is all absurd pundit thigh-rubbing, and all that matters is nebulous “fundamentals” and generic R v generic D monte carlo simulations mapped to some economic index.

    IA to me is not so much about policy as it is about bringing a functional utility knife to a fantasy enchanted lightsaber fight. You can’t disrupt the charge of the racist, economically illiterate chimera cavalry with batteries of wonks and a generic Dem alone.

    My metaphor for the primary is that we essentially had a pot luck wherein oatmeal won the vote for best dish. In my opinion, oatmeal deserved to win! But there is something wrong about the dishes on offer at your pot luck when that happens, and when you move on to the inter-office potluck finals and lose to “Showy Mystery Dish – Maybe Poison?” on a technicality, going for solid but exciting to no one again seems a bit insane to me?

  • JamesWimberley

    What just happened in Congress is more important than the endless hobby relitigation of the Democratic presidential primary. At last, Democratic senators and congresspeople stood foursquare behind ACA and fought every minute, every vote, every press conference, every tweet, every TV show, to defend it: and won. Trump has made a very big error in forcing Schumer to grow a spine, and he is now as formidable an adversary as Pelosi. Defending and building on the Obama legacy is a perfectly sound and winning agenda. Thanks Trump!

    • John F

      Schumer actually always had a spine (so long as it does not involve Israel), but in any event, it was easy this time for Dems to stick together, the Repubs made no effort whatsoever to peal off any Dems.

  • Tim Reynolds

    You’re trying very hard to convince yourselves of this, mostly so that you can go back to not giving a shit about the health and well-being of half the country. If think that if you can just convince the majority of the public that white rural men are sub-human orcs, well, then the harmful impact of those free trade policies you love and adore will be ignored.

    After all, who cares about those sub-human white people who live in the country and believe ungodly things?

    • Domino

      These white rural men that have overwhelmingly voted for Republicans, the political party that by far wanted to keep TPP?

      Like, besides Trump, I can’t think of 1 notable Republican that oppossed TPP because “it’s bad for workers”. The only oposition from the right I can think of are from the “UN Agenda 21” types. While it was Sanders and others on the left that opposed it because they viewed it as an attack on factory workers.

      Is anyone on the Freedom Caucus against trade deals? If these white rural men really cared so much about trade deals, how come there’s no notable block of Republicans who are oppossed to trade deals?

  • NeoliberalBanksterCaptainHowdy

    But but but, this undercuts the narrative from the so-called “left” that we need to move the party to the right (while calling it “moving to the left”), because WWC.

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