Friday, July 1, 2016

The Changing Lines Between Left and Right on Both Sides of the Atlantic

From Ron Brownstein, at the Atlantic, "Culture Is Replacing Class as the Key Political Divide":
Democrats now rely on an urbanized coalition of Millennials, minorities, and socially liberal college-educated and single whites (especially women). Republicans thrive among older, non-college educated and religiously devout whites, especially outside of major cities. In 2012, President Obama carried less than one-fourth of America’s counties; he won fewer counties than any presidential winner since at least 1920. But because Obama so dominated the nation’s population centers, he triumphed by 5 million votes.

Not only was the distribution of the British vote familiar, so was the motivation. [the British pollster] Ashcroft’s poll found that leave voters were characterized by pessimism about the next generation’s economic prospects, and deep hostility to immigration, multiculturalism, and the changing role of women. Fully 80 percent of leave voters said immigration negatively affected the U.K. That exactly equaled the percentage of Trump supporters who called immigration more of a burden than benefit in a major new US national poll. Stanley B. Greenberg, a long-time pollster both for U.S. Democrats and the U.K. Labor Party, says a post-referendum survey he conducted for the British Trades Union Congress found that among those who voted to leave, “the biggest rationale, and the strongest arguments, were opposition to immigration.”

In these ways, the British vote showed the power of the Trump-like anti-immigration, anti-globalization argument for white, older, non-urban and non-college-educated voters who feel marginalized by economic and cultural change. The key difference is those voters represent much less of the U.S. electorate. In particular, while whites comprised about 90 percent of British voters, they will likely cast only around 70 percent of American ballots. In the U.K., Ashcroft found 53 percent of whites voted to leave; because Trump faces so much opposition from minorities, if he wins the same percentage of whites, he will lose in a landslide. He will likely need well over 60 percent of whites to win.

If anything, the resistance to the leave campaign’s nativism from college-educated and urban U.K. whites underscores the headwinds Trump will face reaching that number. Since 2000, every Democratic presidential candidate has run better among college-educated than non-college-educated whites. But even so, in modern polling tracing back to 1952, no Democratic presidential candidate has ever carried most of those college-educated whites. Yet the last five national surveys have shown Clinton leading Trump with them. Greenberg predicts that as the GOP is tugged more toward the resistance to immigration (and diversity more broadly) of its culturally conservative blue-collar wing, more college-educated voters will defect, perhaps lastingly. “They drove their college-educated voters out by the nature of this primary,” he said.

Revolving around these cultural differences, the Trump-Clinton contest seems certain to accelerate the two parties’ long-term re-sorting into a cosmopolitan, urban-centered Democratic coalition comfortable with demographic and cultural changes and a primarily non-urban traditionalist Republican coalition mostly resistant to them. That ongoing shift’s most immediate 2016 effect may be to reorder the states at the tipping point of U.S. elections...
Still more.