October 10, 2016


Politically Polarized, Ideologically ... Complicated : Mapping America's Ideological Terrain, Part 1 (Joshua Mendelsohn, Michael Pollard, 10/09/16, Rand)

We applied MDS to a wide array of items in the PEPS in order to create a two-dimensional social space that approximates the ideological terrain of the American electorate. For example, in the first two waves of the PEPS, we asked the following question to garner respondents' attitudes about various topics:

We'd like to get your opinion on some issues that have been in the news recently. Do you favor or oppose each of the following?

the government paying necessary medical costs for every American citizen

sending American ground troops overseas to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

increasing taxes on individuals who make more than $200,000 a year

raising the federal minimum wage

building a fence along the Mexican border

providing a legal way for illegal immigrants already in the United States to become U.S. citizens

stricter laws and regulations to protect the environment from climate change

a nationwide ban on semi-automatic handguns

allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally

allowing the National Security Administration to collect information on phone calls of Americans in order to locate suspected terrorists

building the Keystone XL Pipeline to transport oil from Canada to the United States

providing free college for every American citizen

Figure 1 divides the resulting social space into an 8x8 grid and estimates how many of America's 240 million adults fell into each square. In technical language, the x-axis and y-axis are the first and second eigenvectors, respectively, of a 31-dimensional social space derived from PEPS questions about political beliefs. In simplified language, the x-axis depicts an average of many personal characteristics and beliefs, and in that average, the most prominent factor is whether the respondent is liberal (left) or conservative (right). In the average of many personal characteristics and beliefs on the y-axis, the most prominent factor is the socioeconomic class of the respondent (top means richer and more educated).

Despite the increasingly polarized tone of American politics, we find that most Americans actually answer similarly on most questions of political belief. In fact, we estimate that 19.6 million American adults (8.2 percent) fall into a single grid square (the bright red square), and another 94.9 million (40 percent) fall into the eight squares around it. That is nearly half of America situated in just 14 percent of the social space grid. Americans are therefore more ideologically similar than different.

It's why the past there's been so little difference between recent presidents and congressses and why you really have to be an extremist to make an open presidential uncompetitive, as Trump has managed.

After Trump vs. Clinton (DANIEL MCCARTHY, October 10, 2016, American Conservative)

The 2016 election presents the starkest choice American voters have faced in at least 40 years. On one side is a nominee unlike any the country has seen before: a billionaire businessman and celebrity without a day's experience in political office. On the other side is the first woman ever to be a major-party's nominee: a woman with experience as a U.S. senator and secretary of state and who has already lived in the White House as first lady.

Hillary Clinton represents everything the country's political elite believes in: the perpetuation and exercise of U.S. global power; trade deals and immigration for the sake of the economy; a privileged position for the big banks; and a culture of steady liberal progress that transcends the limits of the nation state and the historic West.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is satan: an old, rich, white man of "isolationist" and nationalistic tendencies who transgresses against every stricture of political correctness (and a good many precepts of common decency). For at least the last 24 years, every election has pitted a Republican globalist against Democratic one, both candidates unblinking in their support for NATO and NAFTA: Bush (I), Clinton (I), Dole, Gore, Bush (II), Kerry, McCain, Obama, Romney. And now Clinton (II). But Trump breaks the mold.

Posted by at October 10, 2016 8:20 AM