Sunday, March 26, 2017


The New York Post's Salena Zito says that Donald Trump's low approval ratings don't matter. Why?
Because in American politics, geography is everything.

Live in an urban, minority or college setting, and Donald J. Trump is underwater in the polls in a big way; he gets a frosty 29 percent approval rating in the cities, 35 percent approval in the urban suburbs, in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal survey.

But, live in the second ring of suburbs outside the cities, or the exurbs or the third and fourth rings that comprise rural America, and the president gets a 53 percent to 59 percent job approval rating in the same poll.
In a country where you can lose the popular vote by nearly three million and still be deemed the election winner, she has a point, regrettably -- but when she tries to hammer that point home, her assertions begin to be contradicted by simple grade-school math. She writes about a Pennsylvania voter named Don Brick:
In addition to cultural attitudes, Brick also represents the issue of geography. He is from one of the Democratic counties in Pennsylvania — Westmoreland — that went big for Trump.
Did Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, go big for Trump? Yes -- by a margin of approximately 50,000 votes out of 175,000 cast.

But is it reasonable to call Westmoreland a "Democratic county"? The fact is, as you'll see if you check the county-by-county Pennsylvania results at U.S. Election Atlas, Westmoreland County hasn't chosen a Democrat for president since 1996. And even then it was a squeaker, with Bill Clinton getting 44% of the vote and Bob Dole getting 43%. (Ross Perot got 11%.)

When I pointed this out on Twitter, Zito responded:

She's technically correct -- Westmoreland County has approximately 245,000 registered voters, and Democrats have a whopping 8,000-voter advantage over Republicans. But it's not even a majority: There are 28,000 voters with other registrations.

And this is moot if the county hasn't voted Democratic in a generation. It reminds me of a lot of Southern locales where conservative white voters retain Democratic registration even though it's been decades since they actually voted for a Democrat.

Zito goes on to write:
If you’re looking toward the midterms in 2018 and hoping Trump will be a drag on a House congressional seat, it’s more important to know how folks see the president in northeast Ohio or Scranton, Pa., than in Boston or Baltimore or Philadelphia.

Why? Because here in Ohio’s Mahoning Valley, there was a 21-point shift in support from Barack Obama toward Trump in the 13th Congressional District held by Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan. Ryan didn’t lose, but a once-solid Democratic seat is now vulnerable in the 2018 midterms.
Tim Ryan "didn't lose"? He sure didn't -- he won in 2016 by a 68%-32% margin. That means he's "vulnerable"?

In Zito-land, I guess it does.

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