Friday, June 30, 2017

Understanding Voter Sentiment

Writing at the New York Post, law prof  F. H. Buckley summarizes research done by Lee Drutman at the Voter Study Group, which finds interesting things about American voters of both parties. Depending on your level of interest, you may want to read the original or Buckley's gloss thereupon. Drutman created two new indexes:
  • An economic liberalism-conservatism index (which combines views on the social safety net, trade, inequality, and active government)
  • A social/identity liberalism-conservatism politics index (which combines the moral issues index plus views toward African-Americans, immigrants, and Muslims).
Using these two, Drutman created a 2x2 matrix, which results in four voter groups:
  • Liberal (44.6 percent): Lower left, liberal on both economic and identity issues
  • Populist (28.9 percent): Upper left, liberal on economic issues, conservative on identity issues
  • Conservative (22.7 percent): Upper right, conservative on both economic and identity issues
  • Libertarian (3.8 percent): Lower right, conservative on economics, liberal on identity issues
Trump's insight was how many populists there are, voters who worry about identity issues and aren't super conservative on economic issues. That's the category where he won many formerly Democrat votes.

Many of the #NeverTrump conservatives were in the Libertarian quadrant. There aren't enough of them to matter. They made a lot of pre-election noise at National Review and Weekly Standard. It turns out they influenced few.

Buckley's summary is excellent:
The sweet spot in American politics, the place where elections are won, is the socially conservative and economically liberal quadrant. And the winner is going to be the fellow who’s not going to touch Social Security and who promises to nominate a judge in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

Donald Trump, in other words.
Few remember that Bill Clinton first ran as a semi-conservative Democrat in Buckley's "sweet spot" and to some extent governed that way. Today's Democrats have rejected any hint of conservatism on identity issues, and it costs them votes.