Friday, May 04, 2018

"Stormy news won't move the needle on Trump". And you're surprised?

Oxford-Cambridge goat race, 24 March 2018, via

This sequence goes from dismal to somewhere productive:

I've never understood arguments in the form "People shouldn't talk about how X is a bad person, they should focus on the issues" or the other way around. Obviously candidates and editorialists and partisans of all varieties should talk about the issues as much as they think their audience can stand, and they can probably stand more than your average campaign manager thinks they can, but if your opponent is a genuinely bad person and you can make some use of that, you might as well.

But in the present situation, I really can't understand why anybody should think it's a problem, as if laying off Trump might get Democrats some of those votes from people who've decided they don't care if Trump is a liar or a fornicator or criminal or traitor as long as that wall gets built or Trump is on the air demanding that the wall get built. There is nothing that is going to change their minds. You can talk about the issues until you faint. You will not get that vote by insulting Trump and you will not get it by not insulting him. It really doesn't matter either way.

But there are other votes. There are the people who voted Libertarian or Green rather than R or D in 2016, and I don't think a lot of them and their gettability, or numbers either. There are some genuine NeverTrumpers out there, too, who voted for Ron Johnson in Wisconsin (ugh) or Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania but couldn't bring themselves to check the Trump box and voted for Hillary Clinton, that's the way she got her three-million–vote plurality. And above all there are a lot of Democrats, or people who know they ought to be Democrats, who just didn't vote in 2016, because they just didn't have a good reason to do it, including those who were halfway or better convinced by the propaganda they saw on Facebook that Hillary Clinton was just as criminal as Donald Trump. Which is not a small number, as we know, and a remarkably large number of them blamed the candidates and the issues:

Among black nonvoters, 19% said they did not vote because they did not like the candidates or campaign issues, up from just 3% in 2012 (when then-President Barack Obama was on the ballot). That share was equal to the share of black nonvoters who cited not being interested or feeling that their vote would not make a difference. Among Hispanic registered voters who did not vote last year, one-quarter cited not liking the candidates or campaign issues as the reason for not voting, up from 9% in 2012. Similarly, higher shares of nonvoting white and Asian registered voters gave this reason in 2016 than in 2012.
When looking at generational differences, nonvoters in all generations were more likely to cite dislike of candidates than in past years. About three-in-ten of both Generation X (27%) and Baby Boom (27%) registered voters who did not vote in 2016 cited “not liking the candidates or campaign issues” as their main reason for not participating in the election. About two-in-ten Millennials (24%) and those in the Silent/Greatest generation (19%) said the same.
The respectable journalists will tell you about the Obama-to-Trump voters who are going to feel bad if you insult them by denouncing Trump, and the New York Times can always find one to interview, but I've been sure for a while that they don't really exist in any important sense (pleased to see Dana Houle doesn't bother to mention these freaks in the tweet). It's the nonvoters, stupid, and saying terrible things about Trump is not going to upset them at all.

FWIW, of course, but I'd like it noted that the Republicans in 2016 and their Russian and WikiLeaks allies followed a mirror-image strategy, aimed at lowering normal-Democrat turnout, encouraging Democrats to vote for third parties, and ignoring the strongly partisan Democrats altogether, and they didn't even have the advantage of being able to work with the truth.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

No comments: