December 31, 2015

YOU CAN'T BUILD A PARTY AROUND FOLKS WHO'LL BE DEAD SOON:

Donald Trump's Strongest Supporters: A Certain Kind of Democrat (Nate Cohn,  DEC. 31, 2015, NY Times)

His geographic pattern of support is not just about demographics -- educational attainment, for example. It is not necessarily the typical pattern for a populist, either. In fact, it's almost the exact opposite of Ross Perot's support in 1992, which was strongest in the West and New England, and weakest in the South and industrial North.

But it is still a familiar pattern. It is similar to a map of the tendency toward racism by region, according to measures like the prevalence of Google searches for racial slurs and racist jokes, or scores on implicit association tests.

"This type of animus towards African-Americans is far more common than just about anyone would have guessed," said Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, the economist who first used Google search data to measure racial animus and argued that Barack Obama lost four percentage points in 2008 because of racial animus (a number I have argued is too high). He is now a contributing op-ed writer at The New York Times.

Racially charged searches take place everywhere -- they are about as common as searches for "The Daily Show" or the Los Angeles Lakers. But they are more common in some parts of the country than others.

That Mr. Trump's support is strong in similar areas does not prove that most or even many of his supporters are motivated by racial animus. But it is consistent with the possibility that at least some are. The same areas where racial animus is highest in the Google data also tend to have older and less educated people, and Mr. Trump tends to fare better among those groups -- though the effect of Google data remains just as strong after controlling for these other factors.

These areas also include many of the places where Democrats have lost the most ground over the last half-century, and where Hillary Clinton tended to fare best among white voters in her contest against Mr. Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries.

In many of these areas, a large number of traditionally Democratic voters have long supported Republicans in presidential elections. Even now, Democrats have more registered voters than Republicans do in states like West Virginia and Kentucky, which have been easily carried by Republicans in every presidential contest of this century. As recently as a few years ago, Democrats still had a big advantage in partisan self-identification in the same states.

But during the Obama era, many of these voters have abandoned the Democrats. Many Democrats may now even identify as Republicans, or as independents who lean Republican, when asked by pollsters -- a choice that means they're included in a national Republican primary survey, whether they remain registered as Democrats or not.

Mr. Trump appears to hold his greatest strength among people like these -- registered Democrats who identify as Republican leaners -- with 43 percent of their support, according to the Civis data. Similarly, many of Mr. Trump's best states are those with a long tradition of Democrats who vote Republican in presidential elections, like West Virginia.

Mr. Trump's strength among traditionally Democratic voters could pose some problems for his campaign. Many states bar voters registered with the other party from participating in partisan primaries. Other states go further, not allowing unaffiliated voters to vote in a primary; in the G.O.P. race, for example, that would mean restricting the electorate to those registered as Republicans -- one of Mr. Trump's weakest groups. This group of states includes many favorable to Mr. Trump, like Florida, Pennsylvania and New York.

Another turnout challenge for Mr. Trump is that he commands the support of many people who are unlikely to vote. 

Posted by at December 31, 2015 4:27 PM

  

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