Much is being made of the “Democratic civil war” with some Democratic strategists clinging to the idea that economic anxiety is the key to winning Trump voters, and blaming Democrats for not having an economic plan.
Not only does the American National Election Studies (ANES) show that economic anxiety is not why Trump voters supported the President, but even right now in Virginia, the Republican in the 2017 gubernatorial race is gaining by going racist.
Republican Ed Gillespie was losing in the polls to Democrat Ralph Northam as he walked the wire avoiding the toxicity of Trump but trying to court Trump voters.
Gillespie found the sweet spot for Trump voters by focusing on “illegal immigrants” and Confederate monuments. That is to say, he is going racist.
“Gillespie has been courting Trump voters by focusing on what he says is the threat posed by illegal immigrants, a longtime Trump campaign theme. He has criticized “sanctuary cities” and run ads warning of the street gang MS-13, which is largely composed of members from Central America.
He has also called for preserving Confederate monuments following the clashes between white supremacists and protesters in August in Charlottesville, Virginia,” James Oliphant reported Thursday.
Once trailing significantly behind Democrat Ralph Northam, the state’s lieutenant governor, Gillespie has risen in the polls since the ads began running regularly. Kidd credits the spots for making the race competitive.”
Stanley Greenberg, the veteran Democratic strategist, claimed that Virginia is a good example of the “malpractice” Hillary Clinton engaged in during her 2016 campaign.
“Look at Virginia right now,” Greenberg is reported telling the New Yorker:
“We have a candidate”—Ralph Northam, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee—“running as Hillary Clinton. He is running on the same kind of issues, and has the same kind of view of the world. It’s the Republicans who talk about the economy, not the Democrats.” This was the approach that doomed Clinton against Trump. The electorate was angry in 2016 and remains angry now, Greenberg said, and Northam, a Norfolk doctor, didn’t get it. Neither did Clinton and the team of Obama veterans who staffed her Brooklyn headquarters. “If you live in the metro areas with the élites, you don’t wake up angry about what’s happening in people’s lives,” Greenberg said.
Ironically enough, Greenberg said this while sitting in his Capitol Hill townhouse. Whereas I am writing this from rural Pennsylvania.
The Russians, it turns out, used Black Lives Matter to rile up support for Trump. Yes, it was racism.
I get it, Democrats love nothing more than blaming themselves for things, but in this case, it’s simply not accurate. The data doesn’t support this and neither does reality. Hillary Clinton talked incessantly about the economy. No one cared.
They cared when Bernie Sanders talked about the economy. Why is that? Perhaps it was Clinton’s style, perhaps is was difficult for some people to hear a woman, perhaps those saying this don’t see Clinton’s economic plans for women and working families as addressing “economic issues” for reasons they should examine on their own time, or perhaps the media fell in love with Donald Trump’s easy clicks.
Reality is it was not economic anxiety. Analyzing ANES, Nation concluded, “Our analysis shows Trump accelerated a realignment in the electorate around racism, across several different measures of racial animus—and that it helped him win. By contrast, we found little evidence to suggest individual economic distress benefited Trump.”
The Washington Post found, “Since 1988, we’ve never seen such a clear correspondence between vote choice and racial perceptions… The same jump on the SRS (symbolic racism scale) scale made someone 20 percent more likely to vote for Trump.”
It is the racism. One could argue that behind racism there is often economic anxiety, but that is also not a full explanation for the racism of the Trump voters, as many are not the destitute former coal workers the media portrays them to be.
Doctors, lawyers, and other professionals are Trump voters here in rural Pennsylvania. If you ask why, the reasons are things that have been debunked. Then in the next breath, you will be told that black people whining about not having access to guns is why we can’t have gun control.
The racism is the hook for the misinformation.
This is the kind of misinformation campaign Democrats and, actually, democracy, are up against. It’s not about issues. If only it were that simple.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.