12998892003_9277f1debb_blue-collarA conversation in Hanley’s post occurred in which there was a lot of skepticism towards the notion that relevant Democratic voters would support Trump or Trumpism. The sense I get is that sure there may be some but it’s got to be very few because most already bolted for the GOP anyway. While it’s tempting to assume that Trump Democrats would be an odd mismatch because Trumpism seems so incompatible with the national party, I suspect that there is more to it than that. I fear that there may be. If I’m construction what a Trump Democrat looks like, it would probably be along these lines:

They’re socially conservative-ish, at least in an abstract way. Somewhat low-information. They’re likely concerned about the minorities moving into “their” neighborhoods. They hate Press 1 For English and probably forward inappropriate jokes. They’re tired of the government letting all of these unauthorized immigrants in. They were against gay marriage, but when the tide turned they realized that they didn’t actually care all that much. They hate the thought of America as being weak and their foreign policy is Jacksonian in instinct (not that they’d know the term). The Wall Street Bailouts probably infuriated them. The word this may remind you of as you read this description is “Republican,” but that’s only a part of the story. The other part is that they think the government needed to bail out homeowners and not the banks. They want health insurance. They think if you work 40 hours a week you should be paid enough to live on and that it’s been far too long since the minimum wage went up. The minimum wage is one issue they are far more likely to be familiar with, even if they don’t work minimum wage jobs they’re more likely to know people who work in between the minimum wage that is and the minimum wage that should be.

So they vote Democrat. Many of them – outside of the South, at least – voted for Obama. If Rubio or Cruz gets the nomination, they’ll probably vote for Clinton. Because the alternative is the Republican Party. That’s their boss’s party, and their boss’s boss’s party. That’s the party of the corporate mongers who lay people off at a moment’s glance. It’s the party that doesn’t even care about the issues on which they probably agree like immigration and affirmative action. On the issues that matter to them, they’re as likely to cave as not. And those aren’t the issues that matter most.

Enter Donald Trump… well, he’s a Republican, but he’s a very different sort. He’s successful and he will make America successful. He’s a corporate gladiator, but he’ll be our gladiator. On immigration, he gets it. He’s not nearly as obnoxious as the Democrats. And he looks like he’s not going to do anything with Mom’s Social Security Check and will fight for my insurance like a Democrat. Except he’ll be less obnoxious and will put those other people in their place. He’s speaking to me and people like me.

If it weren’t for Trump bleeding Republican voters, I suspect there would be enough of these people to put Trump over and make him the next president. But, of course, he will bleed Republican support. He’s going to lose because he is Donald Trump and he doesn’t quite have the coalition. But if the party goes the way of Trump, then they can start building a coalition from there, and without a lot of the less popular economic policies, they’d have room to maneuver. And at some point, that coalition stands a really good chance of winning at some point. With the help of unaligned voters and current Democratic voters.

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33 Responses to The Anatomy of a Trump Democrat

  1. Jhanley says:

    When you say “bleeding Republican support” do you mean Trump is (or will?) lose his Republican supporters? Or am I reading that wrong?

  2. greginak says:

    Agreed. This sounds like what i said in the other thread though. Trump D’s are conservative D’s. In the south they are almost all R’s now. In the rest of the country some still vote D. They don’t have strong opposition to teh social parts of the D’s coalition and are middlish about the econ side. They are for gov in some ways but haven’t bought into the neo-lib economics that gained prominence with Clinton. They also tend towards R sounding talk about welfare cheats and more…ummm…un PC attitudes about minorities.

    They are the right side of the D tent if they still consider themselves D’s. That should not be all that surprising given Trumpy’s views or theirs.

    • trumwill says:

      What you seemed to be saying in the other thread, though, is that they weren’t really Democrats (they became Republicans, they only vote D in local elections, etc). Except that a lot of them are Democrats. I would wager to say that there are enough of them between Minnesota and Pennsylvania to have thrown the 2012 election if they flipped their vote (in isolation).

      • greginak says:

        I was saying that and i think its correct. But i don’t any difference from saying they are conservative D’s. Some are kim davis D’s: D only out of vestigial heritage but not going to vote D for prez. Some just left the D circus tent in almost all ways and went over to the R’s. Saying some conservative D’s who will never vote D for prez or left the party are siding with Trump is certainly true and not saying all that much.

        The D coalition is large. It embraces a lot of conservative people, it always has which has created some problems in trying to herd enough cats to get legislation passed. Many of those conservative D’s are borderline between R and D in terms of actual polices and can fit on either side depending on the election.

        If a person is a D at the local level where party identity matters little but side with R’s at the fed level where party identity matters a lot more then I’m not sure calling them D’s makes complete sense. If they vote for both parties then they sound like swing voters or more unaligned then belonging to one party even if they are registered as a D.

        • trumwill says:

          Then we’re not talking about the same people. The people I am talking about above are not swing voters. They might be conservative Democrats, but might not be (some of them, I would guess, Feel The Bern).

        • Jhanley says:

          The Wall Street Bailouts probably infuriated them. The word this may remind you of as you read this description is “Republican,” but that’s only a part of the story. The other part is that they think the government needed to bail out homeowners and not the banks. They want health insurance. They think if you work 40 hours a week you should be paid enough to live on and that it’s been far too long since the minimum wage went up. The minimum wage is one issue they are far more likely

      • Michael Drew says:

        So I’m clear, you’re saying you believe there are enough Obama-voting Democrat Trump supporters in MN and PA in particular that if they had voted for Romney it’d have flipped those states and the election.

        Is there some particular data that makes you say you exactly that? What is the number that gets that done? And what is the significance of it being that number rather than a tenth of that?

        • trumwill says:

          The number that gets it done is roughly 1 in 30 voters, which is not a terribly high threshold. But if it’s a little more than that or less than that it doesn’t matter. If it’s 1/300, that would speak to the unelectability of a Trump coalition. Don’t have hard data other than general data on white voting habits outside the south and general attitudes of white Democrats and Republicans that I have seen here and there.

          Anyway, I’m speaking more casually here. “Trump voter” is means more along the lines of “Would vote for a Trumpish GOP and/or be attracted to that coalition despite being unwilling to support a Romney one.”

  3. Jaybird says:

    I wonder about the percentage of the African-American vote that Trump would get.

    Romney, you may recall, commanded an impressive 4%.

    I can see Trump breaking 20%. Maybe even 30%.

    • greginak says:

      He would be lucky to get 10%. O is super popular among A-A’s and who he wants to win is not going to be a puzzler. Trumpy would almost certainly shoot his mouth off in one of many ways that would PO A-A’s.

    • Jhanley says:

      I’d take a wager on that. Seriously.

      • greginak says:

        Well we may have a wager then. I’d be amazed at 20% but who knows. I doubt there is any polling that would be useful at this point.

      • Jhanley says:

        Sorry, I was unclear, but I was talking to Jay. I think you and I on the same side on this one.

        • Jaybird says:

          I think 20% is easily achievable.

          And more if Bernie is knocked off by Hillary in a particularly distasteful manner.

        • greginak says:

          But as i remember Hills is getting more support from AA’s then Mr. Berns. Why would Hillary winning piss off AA’s so much they would go to Trumpy if they really wanted Sanders?? That doesn’t track.

        • Jaybird says:

          Greg, I’d not suggest that the African-American vote that knows that they’re going to be voting for Hillary would leap to vote for Trump.

          It seems more likely to me that stuff like #BLM is indicative of a deep rift between the base and the establishment and, insofar as Bernie and Trump have anything in common at all, it’s that both of them speak and connect to the base in a way that the establishment does not.

          There’s also the unpleasant truth that there is an anti-immigrant message being given by Trump. If you are attracted to Bernie, it’s because he’s saying a handful of things that Hillary is *NOT* saying. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that there is a chunk of the African-American vote that will find something attractive in what Trump is saying but what Hillary is not saying.

        • jhanley says:

          Although I don’t do electoral studies, so I can’t make any expert claims on this, I suspect the idea of a “base” for either party is a myth. In a multi-party system where parties can have a more homogeneous slice of voters, it probably does. But in a two-party system where the vast majority of voters (~95% despite the presence of multiple third-parties to choose from), each party is such a coalition of heterogeneous groups that I’m skeptical there’s any true base.

        • jhanley says:

          A bet on 25%?

        • Jaybird says:

          At this point, I’m only willing to bet on 20%.

          For the number of things necessary for me to be willing to bet on 25%, I’m sure that you would no longer be willing to take the bet.

        • trumwill says:

        • Jaybird says:

          Let me reiterate: I am not saying “will win the African-American vote”. I am saying that the historic levels of the African-American vote that Obama won will not cross over to Hillary Clinton but that the vote will regress to the mean and that Trump will appeal to a small number over and above that.

          Bush got 9% in 2000 and 11% in 2004, for example, so the question is whether Trump will be more attractive than Bush in 2000/2004. So a more or less total regression to the mean would be 10%.

          The question is whether the mélange of sentiments that Trump is shoveling will appeal to, oh, twice that number.

    • trumwill says:

      I suspect he could do better than Romney with African-Americans, but nowhere near 30%. Ed Assante says 25%, though, and he may know some black folks that I don’t.

  4. Kazzy says:

    If this group exists in the manner you describe and votes as hypothesized, that would seem to make them more-or-less single issue voters on immigration. And when immigration isn’t on the table (as it hasn’t really been until Trump), then they get more nuanced.

    Does that seem a fair summation?

    • trumwill says:

      Not single issue voters. I suspect what they like in Trump are not only the outlaying positions he takes, such as towards immigration and trade, but the ones he doesn’t take. Trump negates their hostility towards Republicans by rejecting their rhetoric on Social Security and Medicare and even health care. He’s going to get tough on immigration, tough on trade, and protect grandma.

      (This is the classic formula for the right-wing parties in Europe.)

  5. Perhaps you were referring to this when you said “will fight for my insurance,” but another appeal of Trump is his stated support for universal health care, while also being critical of Obamacare. I don’t know his proposed mechanism for providing such health care, but that probably appeals to a lot of folks who are p.o.’d about Obamacare’s mandates and insurance premium hikes.*

    *I’m not making the claim that the premiums have generally increased. However, I am betting a significant number of people believe they have increased and have increased to their own detriment. I have no evidence other than anecdote.

  6. ppnl says:

    Guys aren’t we just talking about the Nixon strategy democrats here? Or at least their descendants. Ever since the civil war there has been a population of southern democrats that have little in common with northern democrats. I understand that most of the south didn’t even celebrate the 4th of July until after WWII. Nixon took advantage of this split during the civil rights movement.

    And that is the ironic thing about the republican party. It is a party that was born to fight slavery. Yet because of the Nixon strategy it has been possessed by the undead spirit of the old confederacy.

    • trumwill says:

      That’s the source of the disagreement. Greg et al believe (or seem to believe) that the strategy played out and all of these people are now Republicans (at least on the national level). I don’t believe that’s the case at all. I think it’s true in the South, but that nationally a lot of them continue to vote Democrat (at the national level) because they are repelled by GOP economic stances, their Party of the Wealthy affectations, and their Whats-the-Difference squishiness on some of the cultural issues.

      I think Trump disrupts a lot of that, or has the potential to, or if Trump himself can’t then a National Front Trumpism could.

      I’m not saying “The North is just as racist/nationalist as the South!”… because that’s really not true. However, the difference between the two is often overestimated and doesn’t match voting habits. The voting difference is informed at least as much by the importance of bread-and-butter issues as by differences in levels and degrees of racism.

      For it to be the case that the Nixon Strategy completely played out, the racists mostly reshuffled from one party to the other, you’d see huge differences in the racial attitudes of white Republicans and white Democrats, but the differences are comparatively minor. Enough for Democrats to feel better about their party (I mean that), and enough that the party leadership doesn’t really need to pander anymore to win, but not enough to argue that the sort has reached the conclusion.

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