Saturday, July 13, 2019

Is This Phase One of Lumpy Identity Politics?

In a really annoying exchange with some Rose Twitter folks:

Erased! That's a funny idea of what polls are supposed to do. "Waiter, send this poll back! It's ignoring me, merely because I belong to a minority!"

There is nothing elitist about wanting working people to have a decent life, but Dr. Learn seems not to want working people to have a voice, if it obscures the voices of middle-aged multilingual Harvard alumni. The fact is, however, that there are very far fewer of the latter than the former, and they don't play a decisive role in presidential elections.

Dr. Learn seems to think it's insulting to Sanders to say he has a lot of supporters who don't make much money and don't have college degrees, which sounds as if he thinks they must be stupid, and that's pretty elitist. I'd point out that such people may have a more intimate understanding of the injustices of our society than your middle-aged multilingual Harvard alum, and a better understanding of the need for programs such as Sanders and Warren offer.

It's not being dumb that's stopped them from getting Harvard degrees and big salaries, it's the distorted opportunities, and I think they're aware of that. Whoever gets the Democratic nomination had better have their votes. The Politico lede, suggesting that Sanders has a better reach among poor and minority people than he had in 2016, makes me feel a lot more positive about him than I'd otherwise feel.

It's bad news for my candidate, in fact, to the extent that Warren is my candidate, and I can't understand why it would make a Sanders supporter unhappy unless they're so wrapped up in what Scott Lemieux has called "voting as a self-affirming consumer choice" that they can't see anything else. Oh wait.

On the other hand. the Morning Consult poll being reported on may not be all that decisive:
Twenty-two percent of Democratic primary voters who earn less than $50,000 annually support Sanders, while 12 percent are for Warren, according to an average of the past four weeks of Morning Consult polling. Of those without college degrees, 22 percent are behind Sanders; 10 percent back Warren.
Roughly the same percentage of voters with bachelor's degrees — 16 percent and 15 percent, respectively — support Sanders and Warren. But among those with postgraduate degrees, 12 percent are for Sanders and 19 percent are for Warren.
There's a similar split based on age, gender and interest in politics. Sanders wins more than one-third of the 18- to 29-year-olds, while Warren gets 11 percent of them. Warren has the support of 13 percent of those aged 30 to 44, 12 percent of those aged 45 to 54, and 13 percent of those aged both 55 to 64 and 65 and up. Sanders' support goes down as the age of voters goes up: He is backed by 25 percent of 30- to 44-year-olds, 17 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds, 12 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds, and 8 percent of those 65 and older.
To the extent you can take the data at face value (I can't find cross-tabs, so I don't know where Biden and Harris and Buttigieg stand, which makes a difference), the Sanders voters defined here have little in common with Trump voters, who were less educated and more male than Clinton voters, but also wealthier and older, so Dr. Learn is just wrong about that. But they share fewer than a third of the voters in all educational categories between them, so how significant is it? Without the Biden and Harris numbers how can you even tell?

I'm getting fatigued with the media-pushed view that there's a "progressive" lane (Sanders and Warren) and a "liberal" lane (everybody else) in the contest in any case. I have no reason to think that's how voters are thinking, and Nate Silver's fivethirtyeight seems to be pulling out an alternative lane hypothesis that looks different from any you've seen before—enough that they don't really trust it themselves.

This picture is based on the same basic data as the Politico treatment, but a different aspect, in particular respondents' second choices, and the way these don't seem to be aligning on ideological grounds; namely, Biden supporters pick Sanders as their second choice, and Sanders supporter pick Biden; and in the same way, Warren supporters pick Harris, and Harris supporters pick Warren.

Is this some kind of identity politics, with an elderly white guy lane and a diversity lane?

Politico notes the same thing, down in the body copy:
Wes Bode, a retired contractor in the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa, illustrates the point: He said he likes that Sanders has “new ideas,” such as free college tuition, and recently attended one of his town halls in the state. But he’s fond of Biden, too, because he’s “for the working man [my bold].”
It might seem unusual that a voter’s top picks for 2020 are the two candidates who best represent the opposite poles of the Democratic Party. But a person like Bode is actually more common than someone like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose favorites are Sanders and Warren.
And I'm not even thinking that's necessarily a bad thing. (I'm in it myself, if I was polled I'm sure I'd say Warren and Harris, in that order.)

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

No comments: