Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Time Lag

While in New Hampshire a few days ago

Contrast that, Biden said, to the events he did for Clinton during the campaign with white union members in the Midwest, when he got them applauding for same sex marriage, stopping violence against women, and immigration.

“I was in what’s supposed to be those angry white guys, who are supposedly racists, who by the way a guy named Barack Obama won the last two times,” Biden said.

How is it possible, the former vice-president infers, that racism could have played a part in Clinton's defeat when "those angry white guys" voted for the first major party black presidential nominee but not for the former Secretary of State.  (Watch Biden in December flummoxed trying to explain away Obama's trade policy, below.)

Biden's premise is that the 2008, 2012, and 2016 elections were decided by the Democratic candidate. The problem with his conclusion is that his premise is probably invalid.

The Nation's Sean McElwee and Jason McDaniel analyzed data from the last two elections, with an emphasis upon individuals who voted for the GOP nominee in 2012 but not in 2016 as well as those who voted against the GOP nominee in 2012 but for him in 2016. In findings contrary to virtually all seat-of-the-pants opinion and that of Joe Biden (but I repeat myself)

opinions about how increasing racial diversity will affect American society had much more impact on support for Trump during the 2016 election compared to support for the Republican candidates in the two previous presidential elections. We also find that individuals with high levels of racial resentment were more likely to switch from Obama to Trump, but those with low racial resentment and more positive views about rising diversity voted for Romney but not Trump.

McElwee/McDaniel are not blaming anyone for "racism" or even racial hostility. Broader than that, they find "attitudes" about "racial diversity" had a stronger effect on vote switchers than any other variable, including racial resentment and attitudes towards immigration. Their

analysis indicates that Donald Trump successfully leveraged existing resentment towards African Americans in combination with emerging fears of increased racial diversity in America to reshape the presidential electorate, strongly attracting nativists towards Trump and pushing some more affluent and highly educated people with more cosmopolitan views to support Hillary Clinton. Racial identity and attitudes have further displaced class as the central battleground of American politics.

In a February 2016 effort to understand Trump's appeal to whites, Ph.D. candidate Benjamin Denison analyzed the views of political scientist Roger Petersen, who has studied ethnic violence in eastern Europe in the 20th century. Denison wrote

Roger Petersen found traditional theories focusing on fear of others and “ancient hatreds” between ethnic groups don’t adequately explain what causes individuals to support ethnic violence. Instead, resentment of the status of one’s ethnic group does.

Resentment arises when someone — or a group of someones — starts to feel that their ethnic group is no longer at the top of the country’s ethnic hierarchy, or never reached its proper spot in that hierarchy. In other words, ethnic violence is most imminent when formerly dominant groups lose political power — or think they will — as the nation is coming apart.

The USA has suffered not an increase, albeit not an explosion, in ethnic violence the past year or two. Therefore, this theory may go a long way toward explaining why racial animus toward the Democratic presidential candidate- or fear of racial diversity- increased during, and as a result of, the presidency of Barack Obama. Prior to his election, whites understood they were  clearly on top of the country's ethnic hierarchy, and had retained a greater degree of political power.

After eight years of a president who was not a white male, whites had a far different perception of their place in the hierarchy.  Nevertheless, they were being asked to vote for yet another candidate who wasn't a white male. And so a substantial number of lesser-educated white voters- who formed Hillary Clinton's base in her run eight years earlier against Barack Obama- turned against the Democratic candidate when her opponent made race and gender far more an issue than had the Republicans running against Obama.

"I was in what's supposed to be those angry white guys," says Biden, without explaining why he is angry.  Nor did he explain how Barack Obama twice won "angry white guys" (not merely white guys) when in both 2008 and 2012 he ran stronger among women than among men and lost the white vote by 12 percentage points in 2008 and 20 (20!) percentage points in 2012. Nor how Hillary Clinton could have lost while running for a third term of a President Biden idolizes.

"I find the obsession," tweets Chris Hayes, "with Clinton taking full responsibility for her loss from ostensibly 'objective' observers really weird."  Joe Biden's shot against Clinton may not have been weird, but it was cheap, and displayed thinking stunningly simplistic.

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