Saturday, May 23, 2020


You've probably heard that Joe Biden is doing better among seniors than Donald Trump. Axios examines that more closely:
Among the 65+ crowd, it's women driving the exodus....

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows Biden leading Trump by 22 points among female voters 65+, while Trump leads Biden by 11 points among older men. That's what gets Biden to a 10-point overall lead over the president among seniors.

"There is a big gender gap among seniors in the matchup, just as there is among all registered voters," says poll director Doug Schwartz. "Older women really like Joe Biden, and they really don’t like Donald Trump."
The gender gap in that poll among white men of all ages is massive:

But the gender gap in Trump's appeal isn't entirely a white thing. In 2018, Pew looked at the 2016 electorate and found, among other things, that while the overwhelming majority of black male voters surveyed (81%) voted for Hillary Clinton, 14% of black men voted for Trump -- while support for Trump among black women was essentially zero (98% voted for Clinton).

The first explanation for Trump's victory was (say it with me, boys and girls) economic anxiety. Eventually, smart people moved on to a different explanation, found in, among other studies, a survey from the Public Religion Research Institute:
White working-class voters who say they often feel like a stranger in their own land and who believe the U.S. needs protecting against foreign influence were 3.5 times more likely to favor Trump than those who did not share these concerns.

... being in fair or poor financial shape actually predicted support for Hillary Clinton among white working-class Americans, rather than support for Donald Trump. Those who reported being in fair or poor financial shape were 1.7 times more likely to support Clinton, compared to those who were in better financial shape.
So the anxiety among Trump voters was cultural -- racial, to be specific -- rather than economic.

But I suspect that Trump appeals to his base not merely because he hates the same people the base hates. I think he appeals to his base -- particularly men -- simply because he hates. He's a bundle of rage. He wakes up every morning and expresses anger, on Twitter and in press conferences, and he gets away with it. He's succeeded in structuring a life in which he doesn't even have to pretend that he cares about most people's feelings -- he just says what he want to say and offends whomever he chooses to offend. In other words, he's completely selfish and unsocialized.

To a very large portion of the male population, that's incredibly appealing.

I'm sure social science can give the desire to want to live like this a more high-toned name than "Male Asshole Syndrome," but that's what I'll call it for now. Quite a few women have it, but it's generally a guy thing. I hope someday we'll read a study assessing this as a possible explanation for Trump's persistent appeal, particularly among men.

I'm not denying that racism and xenophobia are important to Trump's appeal. But he's also selling the fantasy of being able to live a life completely without empathy. And it seems a lot of men are buying.

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