11.16.2016 11:36 AM

Re-take on a US election post I did a few months back

[The Hill Times and Troy Media liked it, so perhaps you will too.]

Back in the summer, on our journey stateside, we did Trump sightings.

Whenever we’d see a Trump bumper sticker, or billboard, or T-shirt, we’d point it out to each other. “There’s another one,” we’d say. Then we’d lapse into silence.

All along Highway 90, we were reminded that we weren’t in Canada anymore. Among other things, it was uncomfortable. Unlike when we are in Canada – where it’s safe to call Donald Trump a racist, sexist and dangerous nationalist out loud – we kept our comments to ourselves. At the border crossing in Niagara Falls, in fact, our son implored us to say nothing about Trump.

“They have microphones at the border,” he said, nervously, and we did what he asked.

So, as we got deeper into the United States, we continued to keep quiet about Donald Trump. As our son suggested, it’s hard to know which white person supports him, and which one doesn’t. But plenty white people did.

And those white people made him president.

When we arrived at our destination in coastal Maine, and we’d unpacked, I consulted Gallup, the pollster which has been around longer than anyone else. As I expected, Gallup noted that Trump’s voters tended to be older, whiter men. But the assumption everybody previously made about the core Trump vote – me included – was wrong.

Until Massachusetts, I simply assumed – like everyone else – that Trump’s vote was rooted in economic insecurity and resentments. I had bought into all of the Rust Belt theory: He was attracting the support in the primaries from older white men who believed they lost their manufacturing jobs to trade deals, technology and globalization. Until Massachusetts.

Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of post-secondary education in the union, you see. And, in the primaries, Donald Trump won Massachusetts in a landslide.

Gallup massive study made clear that the number one preoccupation of the Trump vote isn’t the economy. It’s race.

Said Gallup:

“His supporters are less educated and more likely to work in blue collar occupations, but they earn relative high household incomes, and living in areas more exposed to trade or immigration does not increase Trump support. There is stronger evidence that racial isolation and less strictly economic measures of social status, namely health and intergenerational mobility, are robustly predictive of more favourable views toward Trump, and these factors predict support for him but not other Republican presidential candidates.”

Race, not economy. That’s why Trump called Mexicans rapists and murderers, and that’s why he called for a ban on Muslims, and that’s why he said blacks are the cause of crime. Race. He knew exactly what he was doing in the primaries. It worked, obviously. He knew the dark, seething resentments within the American soul, and Hillary Clinton didn’t.

Being a Canadian, I of course naively thought that the election and re-election of a black man as president meant that the United States of America – where I lived for years, and which I love – meant the end of racism. I watched Jesse Jackson cry on Election Night in 2008 (I may have too), and I concluded that the U.S. had been reborn.

Well, it hasn’t been, and Trump is irrefutable proof.

So too his voters, the ones who have elevated him to the most powerful office in the world. They aren’t a media construct, either. They aren’t made up. They are real people, flesh and blood. And they feel have been left behind by trade, technology and the times. If we’re being honest with ourselves, they actually have been, haven’t they?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not making excuses. Donald Trump is of course a deranged, autocratic, racist piece of garbage. He is the worst of the worst. He is going to be an unmitigated disaster as president, mired in scandal and chaos before the mid-terms.

But, as we headed south along the turnpike, this also is true: He has awoken a beast. And, after he shocked me and everyone I know – except for my friends Nick Kouvalis (a pollster), John Mraz (a political consultant) and Jim Keelaghan (a folk singer, who travels often through the hidden U.S.) – everyone will still have to contend with that beast roaming the U.S., upending conventions and common wisdom. Making us less secure, and less of a people.

The beast is awake, and – even up here – we are not safe.


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    Ron says:

    Race wars know no boundaries. Its important to realize that.

    The Great Inciter has done his work, even if he stopped right now.

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    jen says:

    What ever happened to the November 8th election prediction pool? I predicted the Trump win and came remarkably close on the electoral college. 🙂

    Observing that right wing populism is ascendant and predicting victories for the Brexit side, Donald Trump and hard right parties in Europe is not really difficult, unless people are living in an upper middle class bubble and not really paying attention to the darker impacts of globalization.

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      The Doctor says:

      Lots of Trump voters were upper middle class, wealthy and are doing quite well under globalization. And once their tax bills go down under a Trump administration, they’ll be doing even better.

      Your post makes it seem as though Trump’s election was some proletarian revolution. It wasn’t, and it certainly will not be.

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        Charlie says:

        Huge misconception that constantly gets perpetuated by a false narrative. Trump’s supports are nowhere near the pitiful destitutes, suffering under the current economic globalism that they are portrayed as being.

        The fact of the matter is most of Trump’s supporters are predominantly white middle-class Americans that have either done relatively well since 2008 or have recovered from any loss.

        With the exception of some manufacturing constituencies that may have voted against their traditional party (Democrats) in the rust-belt, there is nothing that supports the suggestion that Trump captured the support of economically disadvantaged Americans as a whole.

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    dave constable says:

    I am just starting to mull over this idea:
    When I was a lad in high school in the late 1950’s, I would buy American magazines with titles like ‘Man’s World.” (I had hopes.) The articles were aimed at working men, usually in urban areas. I took it for granted a the time, but a lot of the articles assumed that the the reader was a union member.
    In the late 1960’s, I remember reading that in America leaders in Washington were saying that maybe America was suffering from a surfeit of democracy.
    Through the 1970’s I remember reports about union sin Europe that were stalling economic progress.
    I understood, that most unions voted Democrat. If they voted Republican, they were people who were not much different from Democrats.
    Reagan fired the air controllers, American unions sat by, and I began to read reports that union participation was already in decline.

    Basically, what I am thinking about is that if employed workers are organized, especially in unions, then they have a voice. I they are not organized, they have to search for a voice, and, in this election, for some of them, Trump was the voice they figured spoke for them.
    So, unions = left of centre tendency;
    no unions = authority figure.

    Whaddaya think?

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    Maps Onburt says:

    This is getting REALLY tiring… I’ve made posts (that haven’t made it through the moderator screen) preaching tolerance but it seems that there is a desire here to tar and feather Trump and his supporters. It’s not my blog and Warren is absolutely free to post what he wants and delete what he wants. Its a free land with mostly free speech so I’d not suggest anything else. On most topics he’s the voice of reason and often has contrary positions that win me over. Sometimes I agree and some times I disagree. On this particular topic, however, I’d argue he’s lost all sense of reason (like many progressives) so I’m going to go away for a while and hope people come to their senses and realize that 50% of Americans aren’t racist (and frankly it is damn disturbing that people would think so).

    I don’t give a shit if I get outed like Godot10 or not… so to save our gracious host time, my email is mapsonburt@hotmail.com and my IP address is I hope things settle down and we can get back at somepoint in the not too distant future about discussing the merits of politics.

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      Warren says:

      Dream on. If there isn’t blood in the streets before the mid-terms, I’ll be amazed. Happy, but amazed.

      He’s a fascist. We used to know what to do with fascists.

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        monkey says:

        He is a fascist alright but my worry is as awful as he is, much of the population might eat up what he is offering. In some ways I would rather their blood in the streets before midterms as that at least means people are fighting back, whereas if people aren’t then that is scary. Unfortunately as someone who has studied history in fair depth I am quite worried the public will let him get away with a lot. I hope I am wrong. And besides even if he isn’t that bad, I will still think he is an asshole as anyone who plays on racism and xenophobia even if just to win deserves to be hated. If he succeeds this will just encourage future leaders to play the racist and xenophobia card to win.

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      David says:

      The answer’s more like 30%.

      This is data from March-April 2016 on racial attitudes by candidate. It has some obvious problems — the hard core of Trump supporters was diluted by the Republican base before the election. I’ve compensated for that in the reanalysis I’ve done by weighting each of the three republican candidate’s numbers by the number of responses in the poll. I *didn’t* mix Bernie support in with Hillary’s as I have no idea where they went, I wanted to be conservative in my analysis, and there’s some evidence that they went to people like Jill Stein.

      Reanalysis (combining Kasich, Cruz, Trump weighted by poll share) vs Hillary:
      Intelligence: 29.6% vs 22% – significant.
      Work ethic: 33.7% vs 25% – significant.
      Manners: 37.5% vs 30% – significant.
      Violence: 39.8% vs 31% – significant.
      Lawfulness: 40% vs 32% – significant.

      Ipsos uses 95% credibility intervals here (from Bayesian statistics), which correspond to a 95% confidence intervals with linear statistics. When I say “significant” above, this is at the 95% confidence level using an error margin of +- 3% as stated in the blurb of text at the bottom of the graphic.


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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    It’s very hard to moderate your stripes when they are held in such firm conviction. Half of that country remains resolutely opposed to his views and intentions. When you yourself are not prepared for a significant reset, it becomes all the more important who surrounds you in your administration.

    If Trump fails in that test, the odds go up considerably that violence and civil disobedience will be the ultimate, and perhaps inevitable result.

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    Francis says:

    Here’s my question: when do we start talking about the role Julian Assange/Wikileaks, Russia and the FBI played in this election?

    Hilary had her flaws, but for all the bad, nothing damaged her more than these three external agents proactively working against her.

    I mean, are we really going to gloss over the matter than emails were hacked by Russia and dispensed by Wikileaks strictly to damage the Democratic candidate?

    Or how about the fact that there were reports of the New York FBI behaving in a grossly partisan manner and feeding information to the Trump campaign (something confirmed by Giuliani himself).

    I get that we’re all talking about how horrible Trump is and how despicable his legion of fuck-tard followers are, but I can’t believe the election postmortem was just completely ignored by the media. The fact that Russia interfered with the American democratic process has huuuuuge implications.

    Frankly, it seems to me that Democrats/Clinton/Progressives/anti-Trumpers were robbed of a win and I’m actually surprised no one has asked for heads to role. Trump supporters threatened to lead an armed resistance if Trump didn’t win — which no one thought would happen. But Clinton gets a victory stolen right from her hands and all we’re talking about is Steve Bannon’s fat fuckin face; I’m truly amazed.

    I don’t know if its the shock of the loss and maybe everyone is still processing the result, but I really don’t feel like there is sufficient enough anger when it is so warranted.

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