Wednesday, September 06, 2017


The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, which has been surveying thousands of Americans since 2011, reinterviewed 5,000 of the survey's participants this past July in order to assess their reactions to the first half-year of the Trump presidency. The headline news is this:
Nearly one-quarter of voters who backed both President Trump in 2016 and former President Obama in 2012 say they disapprove of Trump's job performance, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

... 22 percent of those who voted for both Obama and Trump disapprove of the current president. In comparison, just nine percent of all Trump voters disapprove of him.

... The poll found that 16 percent of those who voted for Obama in 2012 and then for Trump in 2016 regret voting for Trump. Six percent of all Trump voters said the same.
I've been skeptical of the notion that Democrats need to stop talking about a multicultural America in order to win back white working-class voters. I remain skeptical. However, it does appear that a sliver of Obama-Trump voters could be reached with a message that's slightly different from the 2016 message.

I'd still argue that Democrats don't need to consider making radical changes -- President Obama clearly reached out to non-white and LGBT voters in 2012, and these Obama-Trump voters voted for him. Maybe there was a tiny difference in emphasis -- or maybe these voters just liked Obama in November 2012 more than they liked Hillary Clinton four years later. (In 2016, we were all encouraged to despise Hillary Clinton by Election Day.)

But I want to make note of some other results from the survey -- specifically, the numbers on people who voted third-party in 2016:
More [third-party voters] disapprove of the president (59 percent) than support him (25 percent). Only 2 percent of third-party voters strongly approve of him.

... 6 percent of [Trump and Clinton voters] regret the vote they made in November. Only about 3 percent of third-party voters express similar regrets.

... In line with other July polls, the Democratic Party has a 7-point lead over Republicans in the “generic ballot” question – 43 percent to 36 percent.... Most third-party voters report uncertainty or intend to vote for a third-party candidate.
So 2016 third-party voters dislike Trump (59% disapprove, 25% approve) -- but only 3% of them regret voting third-party, and most have no intention of voting against Trump's party in 2018. In fact, as you can see from the graph below, they're twice as likely to vote Republican as Democrat in 2018. (In the graph, Republican is red, Democrat is blue, and gray is "Other/Not sure/I would not vote.")

Obviously, some of these people are right-leaners or libertarians who voted for Gary Johnson or Evan McMullin. But others are left-leaners who voted for Jill Stein (or Gary Johnson). Whatever the mix, far more of them are inclined to ally themselves with the GOP than with the Democrats.

Left-leaning third-party voters should be easier for Democrats to win over in 2018 (and beyond) than Obama-Trump voters -- but left-leaning third-partyites seem to be sticking with third-partyism as a lifestyle choice, a sort of voting hipsterism. Maybe this will change by 2018 or 2020, but for now, third-party voters seem not to be accepting the notion that the vast majority of elections are won by either a Democrat or a Republican, and thus refusing to vote against the major-party candidate who's most loathsome is a vote for that candidate. I don't know what will change that -- Democrats can't run Bernie in every election -- but I fear it might not change anytime soon.

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