Clinton's defeat

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Re: Clinton's defeat

Postby super_dipsy » 18 Jan 2017, 10:59

I have enormous respect for all the statistics and learned discussions in the press and elsewhere about the reasons for the US election result, just as I have for the UK Brexit result. However, I think a key point is sometimes not given enough weight.

A common theme seems to be 'How could people be so stupid?'. The intelligentsia look aghast at the result and decry it based on the 'obvious' facts. They cannot understand the logic of those who voted 'the wrong way'. In the UK, there is a common cry that those voting Brexit did not understand or were misled. In the US there appears to be common views such as 'it was the misinformation from Russia et al', 'it was because Clinton is such a crap politician' etc..

But I think the key point is that for a lot of voters, I think there was more of an emotional content than a logically constructed analysis. For example, I believe part of the problem comes from 2007 when the credit crunch happened. What we have seen here in the UK and it seems maybe the same is true in the US is the following story:
- pain felt by all
- working hard to recover
- phew, things are starting to get back to normal
- OK, we are actually getting good growth now, the economy has picked up, we have survived, the problem is sorted

This is the way the media presents it, and talking amongst the chattering classes confirms it. But I do believe there is a large swathe of people who are still stuck at the first (and possibly second) stage. Things are not getting better for them, and every time they see people saying how things are better now and isn't it great we recovered from that, it makes them more and more upset. This generates a strong urge to CHANGE something. After all, no matter how mad they might think Trump is or Brexit is, and no matter how bad the intelligentsia paint it, 'it has to be better than this'.

I am not clued in to all the American data, but as another example of this emotional effect that was determined to be a major driver for the Brexit vote was getting out from under the European Court of Justice. For the benefit of the US, the ECJ was created ostensibly as the arbiter for cross country trade and contract disputes within the EU, but it was quickly expanded to cover a very wide brief of law within the EU countries. This has resulted in countless times it has overruled the UK courts. You can argue about whether this is good or bad, but again there is a very strong emotional reaction that says 'Why should a group of judges from other countries be calling the shots on our laws?'. Just imagine how it would go down in the US if the Supreme Court was overridden by a court consisting of judges from each of the southern and central American nations. Again, this is not so much a thoughtful and analytic process, but a strong emotional one.

Trying (perhaps inadequately) to find an example that makes sense to US eyes, it seems to me that the trade protectionism preached by Trump is a good one. His message was 'we are going to use tariffs to get back all those jobs that have gone to other countries' (eg BMW factory in Mexico). Lots of people keep arguing that that is not the way economics works, and that a protectionist approach will reduce the size of the pie to the point you are getting less that your smaller slice of a much bigger pie. I have even seen debates that say the factories and workforce in the US would not be able to handle all the extra load and therefore it is crazy. But this is exactly my point. Many people are not going to listen to these arguments, because their viewpoint is emotional; I'm pissed because I can't get a decent job and it's because all the good ones have gone abroad, bringing them back has to be good!

I think a lot of the disbelief in the media / political elite / pundits / intelligentsia about these results is based on them ignoring the emotions and getting caught up in logic. Perhaps Clinton lost not because of what she said or did but because a lot of people have a bad emotional reaction to her, seeing her as a throwback to earlier times (and THEY didn't make my life better for me EITHER I can hear some people complaining) and a dislikeable person. Why don't they have the same reaction to Trump? Some do of course, the media and the political elite in particular, but I am sure a fair number would say at least it looks like he is going to shake things up! After all, as long as things get shaken up and changed, 'It has to be better than this' ;)
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Re: Clinton's defeat

Postby The O » 20 Jan 2017, 22:51

Here's my perspective from a non Clinton supporter (but reluctant voter) but liberal person.

1 - 30 years of GOP gerrymandering
2 - purging of minority voter roles in key cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia (as well as North Carolina and Florida)
3 - Having the head of the FBI announce an on-going investigation against Clinton despite the fact that she was already cleared, while at the same time investigating Russian hacks but not announcing that to the public
4 - Russian hacking into the DNC and possibly into voter machines themselves
5 - The Democratic party refusing to take Trump seriously at any time
6 - 3 billion dollars worth of free advertising for Trump by the national media

Interesting that Trump would also conveniently win the needed swing states by such small margins - Wisc - 1%, Michigan 0.3%, Pennsylvania - 1.2%, Florida 1.3%


Full disclosure, I am a very biased person (in case you didn't already see that).
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Re: Clinton's defeat

Postby musashisamurai » 21 Jan 2017, 00:03

The O wrote:Here's my perspective from a non Clinton supporter (but reluctant voter) but liberal person.

1 - 30 years of GOP gerrymandering
2 - purging of minority voter roles in key cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia (as well as North Carolina and Florida)
3 - Having the head of the FBI announce an on-going investigation against Clinton despite the fact that she was already cleared, while at the same time investigating Russian hacks but not announcing that to the public
4 - Russian hacking into the DNC and possibly into voter machines themselves
5 - The Democratic party refusing to take Trump seriously at any time
6 - 3 billion dollars worth of free advertising for Trump by the national media

Interesting that Trump would also conveniently win the needed swing states by such small margins - Wisc - 1%, Michigan 0.3%, Pennsylvania - 1.2%, Florida 1.3%


Full disclosure, I am a very biased person (in case you didn't already see that).


I would also add though two things
1) Parties generally are at a historic disadvantage for retaining the presidency after two terms. Really, the longest time a party held the Presidency was post-Depression and people seemed to have longer memories then.
2) Clinton's campaign. It was kinda s****y. Look at her mottoes: "Love Trumo Hate" and "I'm With Her." One sounds immature and the next is arrogant ("She For Us" would have been better). Clinton for example, barely toured the Rust belt and expected them to vote for her; Her answer to Bernie supporters was basically to stand in line rather than point out how progressive she became; She chose to campaign in Georgia and Texas (reach states) rather than just firm up the demographic advantage Democrats have. Also, her answer to most scandals is to obfuscate everything which usually makes things look worse.


Someone, not me, once pointed out that Trump is a great a candidate while Hillary makes a great president. I think that rings true, after all, if theres anything Trump knows, its marketing
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Re: Clinton's defeat

Postby Minneapolitan » 21 Jan 2017, 02:41

I have many thoughts on this - I'll come back in a couple days and get into it.

But in the mean time, Michael Moore. Love him or hate him, this time Michael Moore hit the nail on the goddamn head:



I'm a lifelong Minnesotan (in case you couldn't figure that out already), next door to Wisconsin and Michigan. I'm always bewildered and irked when Minnesota is not included in discussion of the Rust Belt. Shit, take one trip to Minnesota's Iron Range, which since the 1880's has consistently produced roughly four of every five tons of iron mined in the US, and it's clear that Minnesota is where the Rust Belt starts. We have a good economy but our state is economically divided, more like Illinois. Despite Minnesota's long and deep history in the steel and heavy manufacturing industries, other sectors of our state economy greatly expanded at the same time Minneapolitans and St. Paulites were seeing AmHoist, GM, Minneapolis-Moline, Koppers, AMC, and countless others shutter their doors. And with a state government that's never turned its back on advancing education for everyone, it wasn't difficult to refit some of those displaced workers into other industries. Remember, Minneapolis (the Mill City, baby!) is to food what Pittsburgh is to steel. We have Cargill, General Mills, CHS, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM - actually based in Decatur), Land O'Lakes, etc. Add Best Buy, 3M, US Bancorp, Medtronic, Target, SuperValu, Valspar, UHG, Toro, and an ass-load of other huge corporations calling the Twin Cities home, it was never hard for some of those displaced blue-collar workers to find steady work in growing service industries that now exist subsequently from economic drivers like the ones I've named. For an example this, I needn't look further than my own family.

All this covers up our Rust Belt side. We recently lost our last auto plant, Ford's Twin City Assembly - there since 1924. If you drive a Ranger, good chance it was built here. Cummins Diesel, Polaris, Toro, 3M, WestRock, Northstar Steel, Nilfisk-Advance...have all recently downsized again despite being financially stable. Barber-Greene is gone, so are Bobcat, United Defense, Swift, Northrup-King...this has ALL happened in the NAFTA era.

Duluth's reputation as a true Rust Belt city precedes itself. Despite being devastated by US Steel in the 1980's, Duluth is a union stronghold.

Duluth and the Iron Range are both in St. Louis County.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY:
CLINTON: 51.9% - 57,769
TRUMP: 40.1% - 44,631

That's insane for St. Louis County. Democrats always get at least 65% here. Put together, Duluth and the Iron Range used to have a combined population of over 215,000, let alone the rest of the county.

Rightfully so, all these Minnesotans look to NAFTA and Wall Street as the reason they just lost their job. And who's our Democratic candidate? The wife of the guy who signed the NAFTA bill? Fuck that! Minnesota ALMOST went to Trump. We've been blue since '72, America's longest running blue state...

MINNESOTA:
CLINTON: 46.9% - 1,366,676
TRUMP: 45.4% - 1,322,891

Understand, that's dangerously close for Minnesota. There's other reasons for this, of course, just like everywhere else. But when we hear 'Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan,' we tend to immediately think 'the Rust Belt.' When we think of these states as red where there should be blue, remember that Minnesota was BARELY blue in this election, translucently blue.

Don't forget Minnesota - we have the same symptoms.

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Re: Clinton's defeat

Postby Eleusinian » 22 Jan 2017, 09:22

Minneapolitan wrote:Rightfully so, all these Minnesotans look to NAFTA and Wall Street as the reason they just lost their job.


And automation, don't forget that. It kills me that this is almost never brought up -- except maybe implicitly through the somewhat nebulous "Wall Street" catchall, though I doubt it's what most people have in mind when they evoke that.

Here's a chart I just found online. (Caveat is that I'm not familiar with this site, I just found it through some googling. But it's consistent with other data I've seen.)

Image
source: rejblog.com, similar chart at midamericafreight.org

Note the huge drop-off since around 2000. That's several years after NAFTA went into effect, and though you might argue that it just took a while for Mexican factories to spin up, that wouldn't explain the fact that our manufacturing output still went up and up. The message time and again in stump speeches, and Trump has said it explicitly, is that "we don't make things anymore." But that's just false. We make a ton of stuff, more than we ever have; it's just that more of it is being done via automation.

Mexicans aren't taking our jobs. China's not taking our jobs. Robots are taking our jobs, right here in the good ol' US of A.

I think Clinton sees this, but she did a truly terrible job of communicating it. A big part of that is probably that she doesn't have a politically viable answer, since I don't think anyone does. The only answer I can come up with is a healthy dose of Keynesian economics, but unfortunately the only sector in which that's seen as acceptable is the military.

If we taxed the richest (who have disproportionally benefited from all of this tech and automation) a bit, and used that to pay rust belt workers to build wind turbines, we'd kill like five birds with one stone. But that means taxing the richest, and they don't tend to like that, so it's easier to just say it's all NAFTA's fault.
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Re: Clinton's defeat

Postby Keirador » 31 Jan 2017, 01:01

I'd echo a lot of what people are saying here, particularly the ideas that this was a squeaker in which Clinton won the popular vote despite the fundamentals being against a third Democratic term, and that a huge part of support for Trump was not based in policy or values, but a huge "fuck you" to urban coastal America, AKA Fake America.

I would add something that in retrospect has clearly been true since before I was born, but that I'm only starting to really understand now: governing experience has become a political liability, not an asset. This is such a strange idea to me. Since politicians lie, I vote based on a politician's record of service. I want leaders who have demonstrated they have the competence to pursue their policy goals effectively and intelligently, that they can understand nuance and unintended effects, that know better than to overpromise and underdeliver, and have the pure pragmatic management capacity of leading a bureaucracy. In that context, Hillary Clinton is one of the finest candidates I've had the pleasure of voting for, perhaps behind only John McCain.

Clearly that is not what my countrymen want at all. They want something more like the opposite: catchy slogans, big promises, and the smallest possible record of government service. This isn't new. Going back to Eisenhower (who himself appealed to voters as a "political outsider" despite his years of military service), the only time the more experienced candidate has beaten the less experienced candidate was the election of George H.W. Bush, an unusually well-qualified candidate and policy wonk who was himself running against a three-term governor who was also such an in-the-weeds policy nerd that he devoted his post-political life largely to the study of transportation planning and policy. As soon as the Democrats ran a vapid charmer that nobody had ever heard of against H.W. Bush, the Dems won again.

And the American preference for political neophytes seems only to have grown with the Internet age making opposition research so easy. The smaller the record, the bigger and vaguer the promise, the more successful the candidate, it seems. And apparently a long history of statements on public policy is not disqualifying the way being involved in politics is. Clinton got hammered for her support of the Iraq War as a Senator, a vote she could not deny. Trump is on tape saying he supported invading Iraq, but he just insists he didn't mean that, or possibly that you heard wrong and there is no such tape, and he's the fresh new face who can finally change things around Washington, the same argument that elected Reagan, Clinton, Bush (though to a lesser extent, he was still the change candidate against the incumbent VP) and Obama. Really, when you just look at whether the more or less experienced candidate wins the Presidency, it's baffling to me that it took me this long to realize it. But yeah: governing experience is a negative.
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Re: Clinton's defeat

Postby musashisamurai » 31 Jan 2017, 01:04

@ Keirador

I can definitely agree with you on that but how do you explain how, with an approval rating if 17%, 97% of incumbents were elected to Congress this year. Party politics and gerrymandering?
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Re: Clinton's defeat

Postby Keirador » 31 Jan 2017, 01:51

musashisamurai wrote:@ Keirador

I can definitely agree with you on that but how do you explain how, with an approval rating if 17%, 97% of incumbents were elected to Congress this year. Party politics and gerrymandering?

Sort of. To begin with, that stat is misleading, because people are asked whether they approve of Congress as a whole, then asked to vote for or against their Congressman. The discrepancy isn't unreasonable cognitive dissonance, I expect you'd see a similar discrepancy if you asked people whether they approved of the NFL as an organization, and then asked whether they liked their local team.

That being said, it's clear that in the current partisan alignment structure, the GOP is over-represented in both houses of the legislature relative to the percentage of all popular votes cast for the GOP. Gerrymandering indisputably is responsible for some of the difference, but my study of the data indicates that blaming gerrymandering for more than a handful of seats in the House is simplistic and probably inaccurate. Possibly more relevant to the results in 2016, particularly in Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina, and other states that have passed strict voter-ID laws in recent years, is the Supreme Court's 2013 decision to tear down the Voting Rights Act, potentially allowed targeted voter suppression in states with GOP-controlled state government. This is much harder to study, and low minority turnout in key states like Ohio was largely mirrored in states that did not pass such laws, so I'm wary of that explanation as a complete one as well. . . never mind the obvious data point that the GOP was over-represented relative to their vote totals from 2010 - 2014 as well, before elections influenced by the Supreme Court decision.

No, I suspect the real issue behind conservative over-representation is simply that our democracy does not strictly represent people, it represents the preferences expressed by the majority in a given geographic area: in essence, acreage votes. Our legislators don't represent a specific number of people, they represent the majority preference of whichever voters happen to inhabit the land area of their district. We see this most obviously in the Senate, where 20 million Californians have the same representation as 300,000 Wyomingites, but at least at that level the system is purposefully designed to represent land area--in this case states--and not people. But Congress is supposed to represent voters, and it doesn't do this well. If districts were sufficiently heterogeneous and representative of the population it might be a close enough facsimile to proportional representation, but for various reasons they aren't. You can blame explicitly political factors, like gerrymandering to protect incumbency or the creation of majority-minority districts to help elect minority representatives (which work to this purpose, but also make surrounding districts even whiter than they would naturally be), but at the end of the day the answer is that the American people just aren't naturally evenly distributed. It's not some kind of conspiracy or failed system that citydwellers are overwhelmingly liberal and liberals are overwhelmingly citydwellers. This has basically always been the case, and the two aren't just correlated: living in a city and being exposed to more diversity tends to make more people inclusive, and people that feel excluded and marginalized as minorities in rural areas are very likely to sort themselves into an urban environment. We make these "liberal bubbles" on purpose; we prefer to live in them. What's new is that there are now enough citydwellers to constitute a majority by popular vote, as cities and urban economies have expanded and created new opportunities, while small town and rural economies falter and fail to keep up with modernization. Democrats used to have to build rural coalitions, tone down the rhetoric of their hyper-progressive urban base, and compromise on social issues to appeal to white rural voters. This election however, Clinton was able to win a majority of the vote by largely de-emphasizing rural issues and running the most full-throatedly progressive, pro-gay, pro-minority, pro-immigrant, pro-feminist campaign a Democrat has ever waged, but those votes are just inefficiently distributed in a system where districts, not people, are represented. Congress followed suit, with Democrats piling up unassailable margins in our heavily-populated urban cores but largely being shut out of less-inhabited districts in the "heartland." Because of a nationalized media, more conservative Democrats who might appeal more in rural areas are held to the high standards of progressive activists and journalists operating in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco. We see the result: a minority party of rural populists can take control of the White Houses and both legislative chambers, despite receiving fewer votes for their Presidential candidate, fewer total votes for their Senate candidates, and only a plurality, not a majority, of votes cast for their House candidates. This doesn't strike me as particularly fair, but neither is it an evil scheme. It's just the way we've sorted ourselves geographically in a system that represents land, not people.
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Re: Clinton's defeat

Postby V » 31 Jan 2017, 19:12

A very interesting (& pretty convincing) analysis Keirador. I enjoyed reading it & love asking the "and so" question:-)

In 2020 is it considered possible a different "more charismatic" candidate could win using the same agenda that Clinton used in defeat? Or is it necessary for the Democrats to largely put aside the "pro" agenda you described, not from political convictions, but shear pragmatism that it could jeopardize success against "populist" Trump next time around?

It would be very interesting if majority held political views get somewhat sidelined in an election, due to the geographic structure of government you describe in USA. Considering many of them are controversial "newsworthy" issues, it could be quite difficult.
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Re: Clinton's defeat

Postby Keirador » 01 Feb 2017, 10:25

Senlac, if you're asking me for political prognostication, I have to lead by saying I predicted Trump would lose in a high single digit landslide. I knew Clinton had her likeability problems, but it honestly never really occurred to me that my fellow Americans could be so blind as to Trump's immorality and incompetence, both of which have been on full display in his first week in office.

That being said, and my licks being taken, if we're just talking about voter distribution, Democrats are generally in a better position to take the Presidency, a bad position to take the House, and a very slightly bad position for the Senate. That's based on the Democrats and the Republicans being equally popular and just looking at the distribution of votes. Support from large cities is least useful in Congress due to the district structure, but much more useful on a statewide basis, where votes from a single big city can check votes from thousands of small towns and villages.

As far as the Democrats fielding a more charismatic candidate, really the next election is not about the Democrats. They're completely out of power, so unless President Trump starts blaming the Jews for being a fifth column or something equally sinister, the Republicans own the next 2 - 4 years politically. 2020 will be a referendum on Trump and the Republicans, Democrats will enjoy the significant political advantage of not having to put forward a specific platform, but just representing the "not the status quo" option. If Trump can make America great again, get every unemployed person back to work at the steel mill or the coal mine, replace Obamacare with something great that we'll love, and drain the swamp of corruption in Washington, I expect he will be re-elected with a popular majority and a lot of people like me will be eating our words and admitting he has been a highly successful President. His first week in office indicates that instead, his administration will be incompetent and cruel, and that even if he is successful in making life terrible for non-white people in America, your average blue collar white worker will not be any better off. If that is the case, he will lose and he will take the Republicans down with him.
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