Wednesday, September 28, 2016


The Hill reports that Democrats are targeting Gary Johnson:
Democrats panicked by third-party candidates drawing support away from Hillary Clinton are ramping up their attacks against Gary Johnson and warning that a vote for a third party is a vote for Donald Trump.

Liberal groups are passing around embarrassing videos of Johnson and running ads against him warning about his positions on issues like climate change that are important to young voters and independents.
One example?
NextGen Climate, the group run by liberal billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer, is on the ground in eight battleground states with a message that is almost exclusively aimed at reaching the millennial voters who are energized by the issue of climate change.

Last week, the group threw six figures behind digital ads mocking Johnson as a climate change denier and warning millennials that climate change will cost them trillions of dollars.
The digital ad is not bad, though I don't understand why it leads off with the economic cost of climate change, which isn't intuitively obvious and, if you're trying to be virtuous, would seem to be a secondary consideration:

But it doesn't matter, and it doesn't matter that Paul Krugman and others have tried to remind voters about the Randian harshness of the Libertarian platform. Just as young skeptics refuse to believe Hillary Clinton every time she says something they agree with, they refuse to believe Libertarians every time they say something they disagree with. (The latter also seems true to a large extent for Trump.)

Months ago, it might have seemed as if the young would be alarmed about the possibility of a Trump victory. But people have a herd instinct that leads them to agree on narratives, and the message young skeptics have agreed on en masse is that Trump's a fascist but Clinton's a liar, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ -- what difference does it make if you don't vote for the one person who can beat Trump? Also, there's the insane belief that Congress will restrain Trump's worst impulses, so it's no big deal if he wins. See, for instance, these tweets from a local public radio reporter who watched the debate with a pro-Sanders millennial who's undecided for November:

(I can only guess that this belief comes from the millennials' experience of the GOP's eight-year effort to shut down the Obama presidency, an effort that's been successful in many ways. I assume they see it through the filter of mainstream media reporting that blames it on "gridlock" or "Washington" rather than Republicans and so, I guess, they assume that all Congresses shut down all presidents.)

The Clinton camp can try to tarnish Johnson, but a lot of the young are just lost this year -- if some are dissuaded from voting third party, I'm betting they just won't vote. Gallup says the interest of the young in voting this year is down significantly:
... the 65% of Democrats saying they will definitely vote is well below their average for the prior four presidential elections (77%), whereas the 76% of Republicans saying they will definitely vote is only a bit lower than their prior average (81%).

... One reason for the decline in Democrats' intent to vote could be the depressed percentage of young voters this year saying they will definitely vote -- now at 47%, down from 58% in 2012 and from a peak of 74% in 2008.

In contrast to the 11-point drop since 2012 in young adults' voting intention, there has been a seven-point decline among 35- to 54-year-olds and virtually no decline among those aged 55 and older.
The Clinton campaign can be criticized for its youth-outreach efforts, but really, the young people who've been holding out all this time are, I assume, lost to Clinton -- they're not coming around. We can complain about all the GOP endorsements Clinton is touting (today it's former Virginia senator John Warner), but moderate Republican women, at least, seem to be persuadable (and Clinton's message about Trump's awfulness does seem to be reaching them somewhat, especially when Trump's behavior confirms it, as it did in Monday's debate.) This is disheartening (even a new pro-Hillary ad starring Michelle Obama seems aimed at moms, not young Obama fans), but it's understandable. The skeptic kids are stubborn. They're dug in. They won't be budged.


Tom Hilton said...

More evidence of the lasting damage done by Bernie Sanders. I give him credit for campaigning vigorously for her now, but I don't think it'll outweigh the impact of nearly a year of relentlessly attacking her character.

Victor said...

I was 22, and determined to vote for John Anderson in 1980.

But when I went into the voting booth and saw Reagan/Bush, I automatically pulled the lever for Carter/Mondale.

Maybe we can hope for that?

Anonymous said...

Do you/we think that younger conservatives are similarly unenthusiastic about Trump (than younger liberals are about Clinton)? Or perhaps even more so? Because that's my unscientific impression.

Aimai said...

Its ridiculous to act as though the youth vote is written in stone. These are people who decide what they want to eat twenty minutes before they eat it and then order it via text. Clinton and others are rightly pushing on trying to get this vote and they will hive off a large portion of it right at the end, right as people are going into the voting booth--if they go at all. Very few people get up on voting day and cast a protest vote. That kind of person relies on the group for their last minute decision and they either stay in bed (or go to work or school) and don't vote at all or they are caught up in the enthusiasm of the people around them and they vote the way those people do. In addition, if you are a millenial, there are tons of hurdles that have to be overcome in order to vote at all--are you at college? Did you reregister? Did you get an absentee ballot? Did someone persuade you to vote absentee and early so your vote has already been cast while you are still waffling around?

The Clinton campaign is going to push for everyone they can to vote early (vote bank) so that this kind of wavering supporter gets picked up in several different waves of popular enthusiasm and their vote is already "done" by actual voting day. If they are in college their friends are working on them right now to get their vote. And some number of them will flip and vote hillary, and some number won't. Its not the end of the world but neither is their vote going to be written off.

id brink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jimbo said...

What I wonder about the Janet Babin Millennial interview is, if the person were so completely indifferent to either of the candidates, why is she even watching the debate? My guess is that she's trying to find a reason to come home to Hillary not writing her off. I work in an environment where there are a lot of Millennials and they find Trump disgusting and also engaged in following the campaign. My guess is that they will definitely be voting.

Aimai said...

Right, as Jimbo points out you have to understand that people have different motivations in watching debates, or thinking about two different candidates (or third parties). Its a very, very, complex and personal decision tree that they are working through. Not every millenial has the same--what? priors?--and not every millenial has the same group influencing them. I see journalists and observers making the same mistake that they do with the voting population in general--over reacting to white racist voters and assuming that the "real" vote is always some angry white guy while hispanic and black votes just don't count. Millenials are a very mixed bag---some of them never vote. Worrying about what someone who never votes is going to do is a sucker's game. It tells you nothing about someone who has voted and who wants to vote is going to do. But the same kinds of people keep turning up in surveys because pollsters and news people want to imagine that the correct election adn the correct electorate are equally open to all candidates right up until the actual election. Its not true and it shouldn't be true. There is basically ZERO policy overlap between republicans and democrats at this point. there is ZERO peronality/temperment/professionalism overlap between Hillary and Trump. Anyone who hasn't already made a choice is NOT DELIBERATING ON POLICE OR PERSONALITY OR CHARACTER. They are just extremely stupid people who are floundering because this simple, binary, test is too hard for them.

Riverboat Grambler said...

As a Millennial who voted for Sanders and will "hold my nose" and vote for Clinton (sue me) it is frustrating to hear about some of my peers who would rather "burn it all down" with Trump than vote for Clinton. The easy, lazy position to have on this election is that it's "Alien VS Predator" and whoever wins, we lose. It's just the same old "goddamn politicians ain't worth spit" attitude that passes for being "world-weary smart" among people who don't actually pay attention to the news.

That being said, I still believe the Democratic party has brought this situation upon itself, both through it's decades long policy triangulation and through its general writing off of Millennial problems throughout Obama's presidency. Except for that one time when we "young invincibles" were handed the bulk of the blame for the problems in the U.S. healthcare system, a claim as bizarre as it was infuriating. Other than that, what have the Democrats been doing to reach out, appeal to and/or help Millennials in the last decade? Some people will claim that Dems rightfully ignore Millennials until they come out to vote en-masse, which is backwards and stupid.

Still, though, the majority of Sanders voters are still voting for Clinton, right? That's gotta count for something.

pbriggsiam said...

I'm with McSchwanger on this. Stupid to blame Sanders for any of this. But hey, if it fits someone's bubble of Sanders hatred, whatever.

Anonymous said...

I still think it's pretty far-fetched to think that millennials in general are unenthused by the Democratic Party because they're so liberal that the Democrats look conservative.

And, frankly, politics has been about the price of old people's medicine and differential income tax rates for at least 40 years going on 50. Complaining about the Democratic Party is a bit like complaining about Saturday Night Live. There was never a time when it was amazing. It's always been about like this. Grade on a curve.

Riverboat Grambler said...

According to many, Sanders voters are too small a group to deserve any influence over the direction of the party (much less their own primary candidate), but they're just big enough to cast all the blame on if the party loses. If Clinton loses, the centrists in the party will learn nothing and use it as another excuse to steer the party to the center-right, like they always do.

Steve M. said...

If Clinton loses, I'd say the likelihood of presidential elections at all in 2020 is 50-50 at best.

KenRight said...

I guess the true test would be if Trump actually had his own Nashi accompanying him across the land. I would be encouraged, the youth might also, especially if it were done trendy enough.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Sanders voters could, I dunno, help shape the party's platform or something, so that the resulting candidacy is well to the left of the mainstream Democratic candidacy since 1972. Or instead they could pout about how it's still a raw feeling for them because they REALLY care A LOT and worked SO HARD and only lost because the boring lady got votes from MORE PEOPLE which is totally no fair.

BroD said...

Hillary certainly doesn't need to run against Johnson &/or Stein. At this point, she hardly needs to run against Trump. At this stage of the game, she needs to inspire the folks who know she's the right choice to VOTE. OK, I know inspiration isn't exactly her schtick but--for Pete's sake!--just pick up the "Stronger Together" ball (maybe laced with quotes from FDR, Truman, Johnson & Kennedys) and run with it!

Aimai said...

Thank you so much, BroD! Without your brilliant insight Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are certainly lost. Its not like she'd ever have the strength or wit to destroy Trump in a 90 minute debate, or bait him into losing his shit with a latina supporter and citizen advocate, or even run on the theme of "stronger together."

Ken_L said...

"She thinks @realDonaldTrump will be less effective & therefore do less damage" is a straight paraphrase of Stein, who doesn't seem to know that Congress can actually pass laws and stuff.