Thursday, July 23, 2015

Red, White, Black And Blue

Greg Sargent notes that a new Washington Post poll is not exactly good news for the idea that Hillary Clinton (or any other Democrat) will magically do better with working class white voters than President Obama.

The new Washington Post/ABC News poll starkly illustrates the challenge Democrats face in this regard. It turns out that an overwhelming majority of non-college whites believes the U.S. economic system is stacked in favor of the rich — but far more of those voters also think Republicans, not Democrats, have better ideas to address that problem. 
The Post/ABC poll finds that 68 percent of Americans think the U.S. economic system generally favors the wealthy rather than being fair to most Americans (only 27 percent believe the latter). Some 69 percent of white non-college voters believe it favors the wealthy, somewhat higher than the 61 percent of white college-educated voters who believe the same. 
But look how non-college whites break down on the question of which party has the better ideas to make the economic system fairer: 

Non-college whites overwhelmingly believe the economic system is not fair to most Americans, but substantially more of them prefer GOP ideas on what to do about it. By contrast, other groups are much more evenly divided on this question. Among college-educated whites, Republicans lead by a much smaller 46-38. Independents are almost exactly split. And in a bit of good news for Dems, moderates favor their ideas by 45-34. But among non-college whites, GOP ideas enjoy a 21 point advantage.

If only 29% of non-college white voters think the Democrats are better for them economically after seven years of a Democratic president actually putting in policies that help them. then the Democrats need to kiss working class white voters goodbye.

Chasing these folks, especially at the expense of black and Latino voters (I'm talking to you, Jim Webb) is a guaranteed disaster.

The reality is that Republicans have succeeded in framing Obamacare, executive action on immigration, and international trade deals as benefiting those people at the direct expense of "good ol' boys".  White resentment is the driving force behind the Republican party right now (see Donald Trump). Putting Hillary or Bernie in isn't going to change that.  The GOP austerity regime is being sold as "We'll take away health care and jobs and entitlements away from them and never you.  Trust us."  It's working, unfortunately.

As a result, Democrats need to remember who voted them into the White House, and who ran from them in 2010 and 2014 in midterms.

Luckily, President Obama seems to be well aware of that distinction.


Jim 'Prup' Benton said...

No, NO, NO,NO and NO. That is exactly the mistake we have been making for the last three elections -- and the time in-between as well. (Before that, in 2006 and 2008 we followed the '50-state strategy.' Of course, I guess it didn't work, since a;; we managed to do, for the first time in history, was to go two straight elections without a single Senate seat -- and not many House seats -- turning from Blue to Red.)
In fact, by assuming that it is an either-or situation, we are, yet again, playing the Republicans' game, telling these folks 'they're right, the choice IS between helping them or you -- and we choose them.' Of course that's not what we are doing, it's not the effect of our programs, which probably help as many 'yous' as it does 'thems' -- more in fact because there simply are more white working class people who need governmental help -- and get it -- than minorities because there still are more whites than minorities. (I even hate to use these categories, but it is necessary here.) And there isn't a 'necessary divide' between 'whites' and 'minorities' but we are all 'us' in this context and helping 'them' -- whichever them you are -- helps 'us.' The trouble is that they don't realize it, and they aren't going to until someone tells them.
That sounds a bit stupid, but think about it. We don't compete in the districts they live in, we don't try and get the word to them. I don't know if we have developed a snobbish disdain or an absurd overestimation of these folks we should be trying to reach, but we act as if they -- who have little time and interest in following politics and who arew unlikely to read our blogs, watch our shows, etc, know everything we do about the effects of governmental policy, the ACA, immigration, etc.
How, by osmosis, by Divine intervention, or is knowledge like this instinctual, like a kitten knowing how to fall? Let be hit the emphasis even harder:
If the only voices people are exposed to are Rush, Pastor Brown, Bryan Fisher and the NRA, and they don't hear them refuted, y'know what, they're going to believe Rush, their pastor, etc.
Of course, this gives us a chance to make wisecracks about how stupid they are (and, of course, how smart we are). It's called 'blaming the victim' and most of the time it is one of the prime sins for Progressives like us. But have you ever read through the comments on some of the big name blogs. It's like being in a Weimar salon, looking down over that noise in the street and being so glad that it only touches the stupid people, and not the ones like us.
Understand, we're going to fail 95% of the time -- but that 5% is a pretty large number overall. And picture your average awful Conservative district. We don't run a candidate, we save a few dollars, and the vote is 99% to 1% for some third-party person. Or we run a candidate, lose 80-20 but bring those 20% to the polls where they vote for the up and down ballot candidates. Oh, and we also do what a GLBTQ Community Center does for gays who thought they were the 'only ones in the world' gives them strength, confidence, a place to network, just by establishing that progressive candidate's headquarters.
And elections can surprise you. A candidate can stumble and have a 'macaca moment' at any time, but there has to be someone to take advantage of it. And sometimes merely running a certain type of candidate can attract national attention -- and money -- to an otherwise obscure race. Imagine an openly gay candidate running against one of the more prominent homophobes.
Hope this gets a debate started, and maybe one that could spread a bit.

Horace Boothroyd III said...

That poll result is disheartening, but not at all surprising: in fact it very well describes the dumb white guys in my own family. I have my fancy degrees and my book lernin' and stuff, but it's hard to convince them that high level economic analysis applied to the economy as a whole trumps out the plain (if irrelevant) lessons of their individual hardscrabble lives.

The kossacks and Sanderistas have a point, in that economics ought to be the key that unlocks a hundred million hearts, but they beat it death when they hammer it into a pathetic list of goodies and handouts to the college kids. As I have said before, tuition reform is nice; it's of no value to a fifty year old roofer whose clients keep deferring that maintenance.

So how do we reach them? I don't actually know, and neither does Bernie. That is why I say we need to stop the foolish obsession, every election cycle, with this or that leftie savior who we hope - this time for sure - will fix all of our problems. We start at the bottom: kick that blabbermouth racist off the board of assessors and replace her not with just a Democrat but with a solid leftist running under the Democratic aegis. Then we take the mayor, and the Governor, and the House seat, and the Senate seat, so when the first Socialist president is sworn in (Sorry, Bernie, won't be you) he can hit the ground running and have the politcal juice to make things happen.

Horace Boothroyd III said...

The lowest weekly jobless claims number in my lifetime

Well, you see, it's the stimulating effect of the Reagan Tax Cuts kicking. The black man in the White House couldn't stop, as hard as he tried.

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