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Two good political reads bust up two big political “truths”: (1) white working class voters elected Trump, and (2) Trump’s negatives will be enough to elect Democrats.

Trump’s non(voters)

Nicholas Carnes, an assistant professor of public policy at Duke University’s Sanford School, co-authored “It’s time to bust the myth: Most Trump voters were not working class” in the Washington Post.

He and Noam Lupu of Vanderbilt University, wrote:

“Media coverage of the 2016 election often emphasized Donald Trump’s appeal to the working class…. The New York Times characterized (Trump’s victory) as ‘a decisive demonstration of power by a largely overlooked coalition of mostly blue-collar white and working-class voters.’

“There’s just one problem: this account is wrong. Trump voters were not mostly working-class people.

“During the primaries, Trump supporters were mostly affluent people….Trump voters weren’t majority working class in the general election, either.”

Using data from the American National Election Study, Carnes and Lupu wrote:

“Among people who said they voted for Trump in the general election, 35 percent had household incomes under $50,000 per year….Trump’s voters weren’t overwhelmingly poor. In the general election, like the primary, about two thirds of Trump supporters came from the better-off half of the economy.”

Democrats’ non-message

This myth-buster comes from Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone (“The Democrats Need a New Message”):

“How low do you have to sink to lose an election in this country? Republicans have been trying to answer that question for years. But they’ve been unable to find out, because Democrats somehow keep failing to beat them.

“There is now a sizable list of election results involving Republican candidates who survived seemingly unsurvivable scandals to win higher office.

“The lesson in almost all of these instances seems to be that enormous numbers of voters would rather elect an openly corrupt or mentally deranged Republican than vote for a Democrat. But nobody in the Democratic Party seems terribly worried about this….”

Taibbi says Democrats blame their losses on outside factors (Russia, Comey, racism, media bias, dark money, gerrymandering) and hopelessly dumb, deluded, evil and irredeemable voters (“basket of deplorables”).

He argues that Democrats have forgotten the lesson that Presidents Clinton (in 1992 and 1996) and Obama (2008 and 2012) taught them: You work for every vote, even if the odds are against you. You should at least show up.

“The Democrats have forgotten this….Democrats in general have lost the ability (and the inclination) to reach out to the entire population.

“They’re continuing, if not worsening, last year’s mistake of running almost exclusively on Trump/Republican negatives….

“But ‘Republicans are bad’ isn’t a message or a plan, which is why the Democrats have managed the near impossible: losing ground overall during the singular catastrophe of the Trump presidency.

“The party doesn’t see that the largest group of potential swing voters out there doesn’t need to be talked out of voting Republican. It needs to be talked out of not voting at all….

“People need a reason to be excited by politics, and not just disgusted with the other side. Until the Democrats figure that out, these improbable losses will keep piling up.”


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