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Untangling “Voter Ownership” and the Champions of Big Ideas

After Kanye West posted positive comments via Twitter about young conservative activist Candace Owens and Donald Trump, various conservatives and “free thinkers” jumped on the predictable backlash from liberals (and mockery by comedians and celebrities) with their own backlash against the backlash.

The jokes by Conan and Kimmel were obviously highlighting the fact that Trump has a fairly low approval rating among black Americans and Republicans generally get a low percentage of the black vote. Coupled with Trump’s past and Kanye’s own general ridiculousness, I would say these are fairly innocuous jokes. But Maajid turned this into an example of “liberals” trying to control “the blacks” by mocking Kanye West and his support of Trump. Doubling down on the initial tweet, Maajid writes that liberals, who are usually hypersensitive, will now defend a racially-charged joke. I’m sorry, if you think these milquetoast jokes by Conan and Kimmel are “racially-charged” and “non-PC”, you’ve become the very thing you proclaim to hate. You’re trying to score political points with a tribe that you know will eat this up.

And eat it up they did. Who jumped on this same point? None other than the Champion of Big IdeasTM – Dave Rubin.

A lot of people have already tackled Rubin’s hypocrisy, hollow understanding of politics, and his promotion of controversial “conservatives”. If you still enjoy Rubin, I probably can’t write anything that would dissuade you from that opinion. I view him as a libertarian-leaning conservative, who happens to also be a Trump apologist, either because he truly believes “political correctness” is an existential threat to Western civilization or because he figured out that it’s financially lucrative to at least promote that viewpoint. The frustration I’ve had (along with others) with Rubin is that he actually had a lot of liberal followers who thought he could provide a needed platform on the left – someone who stood for open dialogue, promoted free speech, and who would challenge some of the regressive elements of the left. All that being said, the focus of what I’m going to write about here is this specific issue of “voter ownership”.

Let’s start with an easy example – American Muslims. David Graham had a great article in the Atlantic back in 2015 about how Republicans won and then lost the Muslim vote. Based on the limited data available, Bush got a higher percentage of the Muslim vote in 2000. Due to the narrow margins in the election, particularly in Florida, Grover Norquist famously declared that “Bush was elected president of the United States of America because of the Muslim vote.” Since that election, a lot has changed, including the political parties’ stances on the Israel-Palestine conflict, the global war on terror, and even Muslim Americans’ views on social issues and the role of government in providing a safety net. From 2004 onward, there has been a seismic shift in voting patterns, with Democrats basically having a monopoly on the Muslim vote.

Aside from the Muslim ban, nothing captured Trump’s inability to connect with a minority group more than his answer during the second presidential debate when a Muslim woman asked how he would combat Islamophobia in the U.S. It was subtle, but not only did he not answer her question, he actually used his time to go on a tangent to promote the idea that Muslims deliberately neglected to report suspicious activity by the San Bernardino terrorists. His answer was not only false, it was actually the type of answer that helps feed the anti-Muslim sentiment that was worrying the woman asking the question.

QUESTION: Hi. There are 3.3 million Muslims in the United States, and I’m one of them. You’ve mentioned working with Muslim nations, but with Islamophobia on the rise, how will you help people like me deal with the consequences of being labeled as a threat to the country after the election is over?

TRUMP: Well, you’re right about Islamophobia, and that’s a shame. But one thing we have to do is we have to make sure that — because there is a problem. I mean, whether we like it or not, and we could be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem. And we have to be sure that Muslims come in and report when they see something going on. When they see hatred going on, they have to report it.

As an example, in San Bernardino, many people saw the bombs all over the apartment of the two people that killed 14 and wounded many, many people. Horribly wounded. They’ll never be the same. Muslims have to report the problems when they see them.

And, you know, there’s always a reason for everything. If they don’t do that, it’s a very difficult situation for our country, because you look at Orlando and you look at San Bernardino and you look at the World Trade Center. Go outside. Look at Paris. Look at that horrible — these are radical Islamic terrorists.

And she won’t even mention the word and nor will President Obama. He won’t use the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” Now, to solve a problem, you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name. She won’t say the name and President Obama won’t say the name. But the name is there. It’s radical Islamic terror.

But let’s put aside Trump. What “big ideas” was Ted Cruz, the second-place Republican primary candidate, promoting during the primary? In the wake of the Brussels terrorist attack, he said we should “empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” He was carefully ambiguous upon follow-up, but I think people of all stripes usually get turned off when they hear their communities are going to be “patrolled and secured” by the federal government. Cruz also brought on Frank Gaffney as an advisor – a person who peddles anti-Muslim conspiracies about other conservatives. Among his many unhinged accusations, Gaffney (along with Glenn Beck) tried to get Grover Norquist kicked off the NRA’s board of directors by accusing him of being a Muslim Brotherhood secret agent. This isn’t just being “politically incorrect” about Islam or being critical of radical Islamists – this is acting like a neo-McCarthyite.

When Roy Moore ran for the Alabama Senate seat, he got the endorsement (before accusations of sexual encounters with minors) of the most “libertarian” members of the Senate – Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul. Moore was also endorsed by the President and Vice President after he won the Republican primary.

Not only did Moore have vehemently anti-gay views (we’ll get to that), but he also thought Muslims shouldn’t be able to serve in Congress. When Keith Ellison decided to take his oath of office on a Quran rather than a bible, here is what Moore wrote in 2006:

Our Constitution states, “Each House [of Congress] shall be the judge … of the qualifications of its own members.” Enough evidence exists for Congress to question Ellison’s qualifications to be a member of Congress as well as his commitment to the Constitution in view of his apparent determination to embrace the Quran and an Islamic philosophy directly contrary to the principles of the Constitution. But common sense alone dictates that in the midst of a war with Islamic terrorists we should not place someone in a position of great power who shares their doctrine. In 1943, we would never have allowed a member of Congress to take their oath on “Mein Kampf,” or someone in the 1950s to swear allegiance to the “Communist Manifesto.” Congress has the authority and should act to prohibit Ellison from taking the congressional oath today!

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt since 2006 was a long time ago, but Moore stood by his article during his Senate run in 2017. And Moore is just an extreme example of how wide the Overton window is in regard to anti-Muslim rhetoric among Republicans.

What about the Hispanic and immigrant vote? The Trump team (and Romney before him) realized that alienating Hispanics over the issue of immigration isn’t really that important electorally. Ben Shapiro captured this point quite shrewdly in his 7 Reasons the Donald Helps the GOP column. Shapiro, along with others, argue that even if immigration reform is important to Hispanic voters, Republicans can’t win national elections by catering to them because it’ll only hurt their prospects with the Republican base and white working-class voters.

Trump Doesn’t Buy Into Foolish Demographic Arguments. For years, the establishment Republicans have been telling the base to shut up on immigration; if they don’t, the argument goes, then Hispanics will vote heavily Democrat, shutting Republicans out of political power. Immediately after the 2012 election, for example, Charles Krauthammer wrote, “They should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example). The principle reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants.” This is nonsense. Hispanic immigrants lean heavily left on most major issues. More importantly, running from the immigration issue, and thereby alienating the Republican base, doesn’t move Republicans closer to victory: Mitt Romney could have won 69 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012 and still have lost. Romney lost not because Hispanics didn’t vote his way, but because white turnout was too low, and because he didn’t drive outsized turnout from Evangelical Christians, among others. As Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics told Politico today, “Certainly the GOP shouldn’t be antagonistic to Hispanics, but the big question is how much outreach should they do before they start to turn off working-class white voters. Because from an Electoral College numbers perspective, the net gain in embracing some form of immigration reform just isn’t there.”

This was proven to be correct in 2016. As others have noted, Trump’s hardline position on immigration was likely a driving force for his primary and general election win. Following his win, we’ve seen Republicans shift even further to the right on issues related to immigration. The Senate bipartisan immigration bill that provided a path to citizenship for DACA recipients (Dreamers) plus funding for a border wall did not muster enough votes to pass because it didn’t cut legal immigration numbers (by limiting family-based visas and eliminating the diversity visa lottery). In addition, the Trump administration lowered the refugee limit to 45,000 – the lowest since 1965. This includes cutting refugee numbers to near 0 from countries included in Trump’s travel ban (eg, Iran, Syria).

This isn’t trivial or just a matter of identity politics. Most immigrants (including myself) understand the need for border security and managing immigration, but we do not want to “close the door” behind us. I feel blessed to live here and I understand how lucky I am. Why would I support “ideas” and policies that would have prevented my family from having the opportunity to pursue a better life here?

Furthermore, let’s not pretend that the post-Bush shift of Republicans into an anti-immigrant party is the result of some battle of ideas. It’s based on a political calculus that appealing to the white working class and conservative primary voters rather than Hispanics and immigrants is better for Republicans electorally. It’s a prioritization of an issue important to one group at the expense of another. It also has other downstream effects – rather than compromising or moderating on other issues that may be important to working class voters (eg, healthcare or income inequality), Republicans can scapegoat legal (and illegal) immigrants as the reason for all their ills.

Let’s move to another group that Maajid and Rubin brought up – the LGBT community. Anytime someone accuses Rubin of being “far right”, he’ll bring up that he is gay married (along with other liberal/libertarian positions he personally holds).

There have been gay Republicans long before Rubin shifted to the right and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. All voters, regardless of identity, prioritize different issues that matter to them. But Democratic “ownership” of gay voters didn’t just happen overnight. Both parties were fairly bad on gay rights issues until the 1990s; however, since then, one party has progressively been more in favor of gay rights than the other. Rubin may be pragmatic and can look past that, but others probably have longer memories. Furthermore, the real problem is that Rubin trivializes the current position of Republicans on issues related to gay rights and the company many Republicans still keep. Here he is with Charlie Kirk discussing how Trump and Republicans have evolved to the point where being gay is basically a non-issue (as evidenced by Peter Thiel speaking at the Republican National Convention). Amusingly, he cites Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee as Christian conservatives who no longer really care about the issue.

All the credit to Republicans for allowing an openly gay speaker at their Convention. I’ll take it a step further – Republicans also confirmed Richard Grenell as the ambassador to Germany, the highest ranking openly gay official ever in a Republican administration. Most Republicans have decided being gay is not disqualifying in and of itself for serving in the federal government. What was not mentioned during Rubin’s interview is that the official 2016 Republican Platform still included the following passages as it relates to gay marriage:

We condemn the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor, which wrongly removed the ability of Congress to define marriage policy in federal law. We also condemn the Supreme Court’s lawless ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which in the words of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, was a “judicial Putsch” — full of “silly extravagances” — that reduced “the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Storey to the mystical aphorisms of a fortune cookie.” In Obergefell, five unelected lawyers robbed 320 million Americans of their legitimate constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The Court twisted the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment beyond recognition. To echo Scalia, we dissent.

……

Our laws and our government’s regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman and actively promote married family life as the basis of a stable and prosperous society. For that reason, as explained elsewhere in this platform, we do not accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.

It’s also funny that Rubin mentions Cruz and Huckabee as examples of politicians who no longer care about “the gay” issue. They were both competing to get a photo op with Kim Davis (a county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples) months before the Iowa Caucus.

Maybe Cruz doesn’t care about the issue any longer except in regard to marriage equality, but then why did Cruz endorse Roy Moore, a person who once advocated for criminalizing homosexual conduct? This was a point that Moore’s spokesman didn’t even take back during the Senate race.

If Republicans have evolved on this issue, why is Vice President Mike Pence still giving speeches at Focus on the Family events, an organization that continues to promote conversion therapy on their website?

Untangling “Voter Ownership” and the Champions of Big Ideas

Conservatives talk about the “mean-spiritedness” of same-sex couples “bullying” Christian bakers into making their wedding cakes. It helped spark a flurry of religious liberty bills across various states. What would you call conservatives in Texas who are suing the city of Houston for extending benefits (eg, health insurance) to the spouses of city employees in same-sex marriages (similar benefits are provided to spouses in traditional marriages)? Is that, dare I say, mean-spirited as well?

I don’t have an issue with Rubin being comfortable that his rights have been secured over the last 20 to 30 years. It’s clear that he views the left as a bigger threat to the country than the right, regardless of their positions on LGBT issues. It also explains why, to my knowledge, he didn’t comment on the Roy Moore candidacy once. But there’s a difference between feeling comfortable yourself versus being ignorant about why others in your community have issues with Republicans.

Moving to the last group and the one that really sparked the Kanye/Candace Owens Twitter extravaganza – black voters. Others have written extensively on the topic and the Washington Post had an excellent article on why African Americans remain loyal to Democrats even though they’re ideologically diverse. Theodore Johnson writes:

“… when presented two candidates who have identical policy positions and who are running under identical societal conditions, blacks still strongly prefer a Democratic candidate over a Republican.

This suggests that most black voters view a Democratic vote as a heuristic for supporting strong federal civil rights protections and support for a Republican presidential candidate as a vote against group well-being. And this also helps explain why political diversity within the black community remains below the surface, while their monolithic voting behavior is widely noted in every election cycle.”

I actually agree with the conservative critique that Democrats have taken black voters for granted. A strong case can be made that Democrats have not pursued effective policies in order to improve outcomes in black communities because they hold such a strong monopoly on their vote. But is there anything new in the way Candace Owens or other young conservatives are trying to appeal to black voters? As far as I can tell, it’s the same talking points I’ve heard from conservatives since I was in high school: (1) welfare is basically as bad as slavery; (2) Planned Parenthood is exterminating black babies; (3) crime is high in Chicago and other Democrat-controlled cities; and (4) Democrats are the real racists because they’re the party of slavery and Jim Crow (I don’t think Candace is guilty of this…yet).

 

The problem with all of these attacks, aside from being hyperbolic, is that the average voter doesn’t think the intention of liberals is to harm black communities with these policies. Nobody sane thinks Democrats support welfare programs in order to enslave black voters or that they’re in favor of abortion in order to keep the black population down. You can try to convince voters that the welfare state is bad or that abortion is immoral, but you’ll probably need to come up with arguments that show some respect for your audience’s intelligence. The party of slavery/Jim Crow is also irrelevant because voters today either lived through the civil rights movement and understand that there has been a shift since then, or they’re too young and don’t care about who did what before they were born.

Maybe it would help Republicans if they actually make criminal justice/mass incarceration reform a major platform position? Or instead of going after affirmative action in a vacuum, also discuss issues with legacy admissions? Maybe instead of focusing all of their political capital on anti-abortion initiatives, try to implement policies to reduce the high (compared to the national average) infant and maternal mortality rate among black women? Perhaps stop passing voter suppression laws and gerrymandering districts based on racial lines? If you want to win voters, you’ll need to chip away at the notion that Democrats are the vanguard of civil rights.

Interestingly, the entire argument from Rubin et al is that if certain groups just started thinking like individuals, Democrats would suddenly lose their majority with those groups. The assumption is that voters haven’t already been doing that and that they’ve only remained with Democrats because of tribal reasons. This mirrors a common liberal critique of the white working class voting “against their interest”. Both assessments may have some truth, but perhaps people have agency and look at the policies politicians promote, the rhetoric they use, and the people they associate with, in order to make voting decisions.

Finally, the irony is that so many of the people who are peddling buzz phrases like “live as an individual” have gone all-in with Trump – someone who built his support through a cult of personality and party tribalism. Trump can barely put together a coherent sentence, let alone a well-thought out argument. He’s the antithesis of free speech, and the only reason why that doesn’t manifest in policy is because of our political institutions and checks and balances. Since winning the election, he’s become the least transparent president we’ve had in my lifetime, someone who rarely (if ever) holds press conferences, and who spends inordinate amounts of time whining about the media or other trivial matters. He almost never talks about real policy and when he does its ambiguous, unpopular proposals like national stop-and-frisk. It’s one thing to call out Democrats or the left, it’s another thing altogether to be a Trump apologist. Folks like Rubin and Owens have traded in long-term credibility for personal (monetary) benefit and short-term political gain.

Photo by InfoMofo Untangling “Voter Ownership” and the Champions of Big Ideas


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AdotSad is a coastal elite living in the California bubble of Orange County. He’s a pharmacist by day and a time waster by night. He is on Twitter.

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52 thoughts on “Untangling “Voter Ownership” and the Champions of Big Ideas

  1. Good article. Good balance.

    The black vote is in the terrible position of being necessary, but not sufficient for Democrats, which makes them exceedingly cheap dates, politically speaking. Just let them continue voting, for starters.

    Remember the fawning, treacly torrent of overpraise for black women following the Alabama senate election? Turns out that black women voted like they always do, but the partisan swing between ‘17 and the usual results in AL came overwhelmingly from white women. It seems clear that a future politician hoping to be the next Doug Jones will have to pin his hopes on those hated Beckys. That means that stuff like criminal justice reform will remain firmly on the back burner.

    OTOH the lip-service to #blackgirlmagic or “strong black women saving us” will continue. Despite political realities, as that’s the territory of white feminist writers who are terrified of a Twitter dragging for crediting the Beckys’ change of heart or seeing it as the basis for a larger partisan re-alignment. The internet is weird like that.

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  2. Say what you will about Dave Rubin but “I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Trump has more black supporters than Conan and Kimmel combined” was pretty gosh darn funny.

    Anyway, have you read John Judis and Ruy Teixiera’s “The Emerging Democratic Majority“? If you haven’t, it’s a 2002 book that talks about how the general demographic shift in the country is going to work out to the benefit of the Democrats.

    Here’s a fun article from 2012 when they look at the thesis of the book 10 years on.

    Oh, how bright was the future then!

    Anyway, when it comes to the African-American vote I keep musing about this government report from way back when… I mean, we don’t want the African-American vote to start seeing “Immigration” as their #1 issue. It doesn’t strike me as likely that they’re going to be standing in solidarity with refugees and Hispanics who just want to make a better life for themselves and their families.

    For that matter, a disproportionate number of Hispanics don’t identify as sufficiently members of a minority to vote for Democrats. (Perhaps we can call them “White Hispanics”? Just throwing that out there.) The 2016 numbers were good for Democrats (but not *QUITE* good enough).

    Anyway, the last thing in the world the Democrats need is African-American voters asking “What have you done for me *LATELY*?” Or, crap, any group that gets swept into a “(whatever) vote” grouping. If it does, the 2022 article talking about the Emerging Democratic Majority Turns 20 won’t be sunny at all.

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    • “Say what you will about Dave Rubin but “I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Trump has more black supporters than Conan and Kimmel combined” was pretty gosh darn funny.”

      Funny, maybe… but any basis in truth? I wonder if there are numbers…

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    • Yeah, here’s the thing about immigration – the biggest opponents to Trump’s immigration plans are wait for it…African Americans

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/04/12/the-one-group-that-opposes-trumps-border-wall-more-than-latinos/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6668fc96998c

      No ethnic group opposes the border wall more than black Americans, according to the Quinnipiac poll. Nearly 9 in 10 — 87 percent — of black voters oppose the wall, compared with 71 percent of Latino voters and 51 percent of white voters.

      According to the Quinnipiac poll, 70 percent of black Americans said they do not believe that undocumented immigrants take jobs away from Americans.

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      • Unfortunately, I couldn’t read that article.

        So I was stuck with Google. Here’s what I was able to Google:

        NPR ran a story on what the polls do (and don’t) say and they pointed out that many of the recent polling numbers that Trumpistas were Trumpeting on the Sunday shows were worded poorly… like one question asked “Do you think we should have basically open borders or do you think we need secure borders?”

        And since 80% of people went with the latter, Trumpistas were yelling that people supported shutting down the borders.

        NPR points out that no no mainstream political leaders are proposing open borders.

        The story itself points to some interesting polls.

        It pointed to a Harvard Harris poll (warning: pdf) that pointed out that 79% of people preferred “merit-based” immigration. The interesting question was not that one, though. I thought the interesting question was this one (you can find it on page 68 and look at it yourself):

        IM5 In your opinion, about how many legal immigrants should be admitted to the U.S. each year?

        The answers went:
        None
        1 to less than 250,000
        250,000 to 499,999
        500,000 to less than 1 million
        1 million to less than 1.5 million
        1.5 million to less than 2 million
        2 million to less than 2.5 million
        2.5 million or more

        When you look at the columns for “who voted for what” under “ethnicity”, they have White, Hispanic, Black/AA, and Other.

        First, let’s look at the numbers for None. Whites had 11%, Hispanics had 3%, Black/AA had 6%, and Other had 4%.

        Look and see who had the top numbers for “1 to less than 250,000”.

        The number for White was 35%. The number for Hispanic was 30%. The number for Other was 29%.

        Guess what the number was for Black/AA. Here, I’ll tell you: 48%.

        So let’s add up those numbers together. For somewhere between “No Immigration” and “only 250,000/year”, White people supported that low, low number at a rate of 46%. Hispanics at a rate of 33%. Other at a rate of 33%.

        And Black/AA at a rate of 54%.

        As NPR points out:

        It’s hard to know how to interpret the results of that question without the context of current immigration levels. As of 2016, the U.S. accepted nearly 1.2 million new legal permanent residents, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Of those, just over half were new arrivals. The rest of people received changes in status — for example, some might have been refugees who became legal permanent residents.

        Half of 1.2 million is somewhere around 600,000.

        And more than half of “Black/AA” think that an appropriate amount of immigration is somewhere between 0 and 250,000.

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        • I always find it interesting when ‘What should this number be?’ is polled without any indication of the current numbers.

          You tend to get some very different results vs. what happens when people are looking at the actual numbers.

          It’s entirely possible that some of those 54% of black people think immigration needs to be reduced from two million a year to 250,000…and others think it should be increased from 100,000 a year to 200,000.

          I’m not trying to make a point here, or argue what’s really going on…I’m just saying that people are pretty crappy at guessing what is currently happening, so when you just hand them numbers without context, they sorta just select one.

          Now, you can sorta get some context from the fact that 54% of black people picked the ‘lowest that is not zero’ option, which does imply they do not want ‘a lot’ of immigration, or that they want ‘less’ immigration. But it’s pretty hard to guess how much less compared to now, because we don’t know how much they think there _is_.

          I wish they would poll with something like that explainer paragraph that NPR had before the question, and asked what amount it should be changed to, with responses like ‘none at all, ~25%, ~50%, ~100%, ~150%, etc’.

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          • Well, I always assume that the poll questions that are obvious proxies for other questions will be answered as if they were the other question rather than the question asked.

            That is, “M2 In general, do you think the American economy is on right track or
            is it off on the wrong track?” question will be answered as if it was “Do you support Trump, you jerk?”

            But I assume that questions that are not obvious proxies are answered as if they were the question asked.

            “I4 Would you say that your personal financial situation is improving or getting worse?”

            While this question might be a proxy for “Do you support Trump, you jerk?” (let’s face it, if the numbers are good, Trump’s going to use it as one), it’s not an *OBVIOUS* proxy.

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            • If we’re going to create a realistic model of how people react to proxy questions, you need to give the realistic answers:

              A. I would say anything no matter how absurd or offensive to display my anger.
              B. I’m somewhat opposed.
              C. I’m somewhat favorable.
              D. I would be willing to click on literally anything if it allowed me to express my maniacal support.
              E, not sure / not applicable / hurry up and get to the meaner ones.

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            • I was just trying to make the point the poll is really sorta saying ‘54% of black people think that the amount of immigration should be the smallest option without it being totally barred’, not ‘54% of black people really have an solid opinion on the specific number of immigrations that should be allowed’.

              So your point is right, I was just suggesting the specific numbers were pretty random…that poll probably could have been done with all the numbers multipled by three, or divided by three, and you’d basically get _exactly_ the same percentages, because people aren’t picking numbers, they are mostly picking ‘how much immigration should there be on a scale of 0 to 7’.

              A small majority of black people are a solid ‘1’, and that is an important thing to know.

              It is also relevant to notice that everyone basically picked 1-3, as in, everyone thinks immigration is too high. Not because the actual numbers they picked are lower than they currently are (Although they are), but instead because they picked the low end of numbers.

              But I assume that questions that are not obvious proxies are answered as if they were the question asked.

              At this point, I’m not sure there are a lot of questions on any political poll that _aren’t_ proxy question anymore.

              I mean, take the wall question, the original thing being talked about: ‘The Wall’ is not a real thing. There is a border fence that has been up for a while, and it occassionally gets more or les funding and becomes larger or smaller. There never will be a 100% barrier the entire length of the country, and there never will be no barrier.

              And thus anyone expressing support for it, or opposing it, is really just taking a political position about how the government should be acting towards illegal immigrants.

              Now, with these two pieces of information, that a slight majority of black people want immigration low, and that a vast majority do not want the wall, we get what looks like some sort of conflict, but…is it?

              I mean, I don’t know. Here’s a totally random guess: Perhaps the ~40% of black voters that do not want a wall, but do want legal immigration low, actually have a problem with ICE harrassing illegal immigrants, and are treating Trump’s Wall as a proxy for that?

              Or maybe they just see Trump’s wall as a proxy for Trump _himself_ and dislike Trump himself for quite understandable reasons like Trump saying a lot of racist things.

              Both of those things would imply that the Republican party could collect some black voters on immigration..but only if they could somehow restrain their nativistist ‘punish illlegal immigrants!’ base and/or reject Trump.

              That is, if my guess is correct in that one or both of those things is what they do not like about ‘The Wall’. I have no idea.

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              • I have no idea.

                Oh, neither do I. But I do know that all of the questions are, to some extent, proxy questions but the ones that are less obviously proxy questions will tend to reflect accuracy to a better degree than the ones that are obvious ones.

                If the answer to “how much immigration do you think is good?” is “as little as possible without it being none at all” for the African-American vote, then that tells me a lot more about how the African-American vote feels about immigration than, say, the wall question. Because the wall question is, obviously, “do you want Trump to get a political win?”

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                • If the answer to “how much immigration do you think is good?” is “as little as possible without it being none at all” for the African-American vote, then that tells me a lot more about how the African-American vote feels about immigration than, say, the wall question.

                  OTOH, to get to the original discussion instead of me nitpicking what the polling tells us…the fact they’re willing to completely and utterly throw immigration, supposedly a very important issue for them, under the bus when it comes to giving Republicans a win also tells us something. ;)

                  I mean, I think there’s a valid point that in some hypothetical universe where significant amounts of black people were willing to vote for Republicans, Republican’s position on immigration could tempt them into switching parties. But we don’t really seem to live in that universe.

                  And I’m not sure it’s policy positions (which the Republicans could hypothetically change) which is stopping black voters. It seems more decades of baggage that continue to accrue until very recently…and then Trump.

                  Or to put it another way: I believe black voters might shift to Republican because of immigration when I see them shift in any amount _at all_ to Republicans. (A shift that isn’t just undoing the Obama shift, before people get excited and start pointing at the small increase under Trump. Something like half the black Republicans defected to Obama, and then came back for Trump. That is not an actual shift in voting patterns.)

                  And I am suddenly remembering when exactly this same thing was supposed to happen two decades ago due to black voters being wary about gay rights, and Republicans were going swoop in and steal them with that policy position.

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                  • I think we’re kind of avoiding the elephant in the room when it comes to proxies.

                    I strongly suspect that most Black Americans view GOP positions on immigration as a proxy for GOP positions on people of color in general, and respond accordingly.

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                  • the fact they’re willing to completely and utterly throw immigration, supposedly a very important issue for them, under the bus when it comes to giving Republicans a win also tells us something.

                    Another very, very good point.

                    But if the African-American vote merely regresses to the mean that was found in 1988, I imagine that the Democrats are going to find themselves in hot water in a lot of places where they thought they wouldn’t be.

                    And, to repeat what I said in my root comment:
                    Anyway, the last thing in the world the Democrats need is African-American voters asking “What have you done for me *LATELY*?” Or, crap, any group that gets swept into a “(whatever) vote” grouping. If it does, the 2022 article talking about the Emerging Democratic Majority Turns 20 won’t be sunny at all.

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                    • And, to repeat what I said in my root comment:
                      Anyway, the last thing in the world the Democrats need is African-American voters asking “What have you done for me *LATELY*?”

                      Yeah, I don’t agree with this as any sort of danger.

                      Firstly, there’s an obvious answer to for Democrats: Well, we gave you Obamacare, something which helped anyone with low income, and would have helped better had Republicans not sabotaged the Medicaid expansion. And the Republicans have kept us from doing anything since.

                      Additional things: We protected Medicaid from stupid Republican plans.

                      And: We are not going to appoint people like Jeff Sessions to the cabinet.

                      But perhaps a better point to be made is that, as far as I can tell, the voting public _never_ asks ‘What did you do for me lately’. They always instead are enthralled by promise about what the candidates are going to do once elected.

                      And the Democrats have much, much better answers to that. A whole bunch of answers.

                      And, thanks to the Democrats not being in full control of the government since 2008, they can actually explain why they _haven’t_ done those things yet, and point to what they did (Obamacare) when they _did_ have control as evidence they are serious.

                      If anyone ever bothers to ask. Which they won’t. Because politics utterly refuses to operate backward, and we take ludicrous promises that individual politicians make about what will happen in the futures thanks to their amazing policies as some serious thing.

                      Just once I want some candidate to promise ‘I have an amazing plan to do X’ and the opposing candidate say ‘Hey, that sounds good. I assume if you lose you’ll, like, tell other people in your party this plan? Or tell me? Or will you keep it secret to punish everyone if you don’t get elected?’

                      But this pretends that electoral politics has anything to with reality in any manner at all. When in reality we’re all in some sort of Kayfabe pretending that individual elected officials somehow ‘do things’.

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                        • So your theory is that black people were happier with ‘What Democrats did for them lately’ in 2008 than in 2016?

                          Also, confusingly, they were happier about what Democrats did for them by 2004 than 2000? What did Democrats do for black people between 2000-2004?

                          If you look at both black turnout and black percentages over time, it’s almost impossible to make any sort of logical claim that black voters (Or any voters) have any sort of care about ‘What politicians didn’t do for them’. There is nothing to justify that at all.

                          Black turnout has hovered at 60% since 1992. 5% ran off Bill Clinton’s second term, probably because of his welfare reform, and then came back to ~60% to vote against Bush, and then another 5% extra showed up for Obama, and then wandered off again and turnout went back to ~60% against Trump.

                          And there’s even less variation in the actual vote, where 85%-90% of black voters voting Democratic….with, again, some addition for Obama, or maybe it’s just all the new voters voted for him.

                          There’s not any pattern there, heck, there’s little evidence black voters are willing to punish the Democrats for anything at all, even if they will specifically punish Bill Clinton.

                          Again, I repeat my claim that basically, no one has any sort of memory for people ‘not doing helpful things in the past’ when voting.

                          They can have a memory of broken promises (Although honestly I’m unsure of that!) or non-helpful things that person or party actually did do, but basically no voter has ever said ‘They didn’t pass or even propose any sort of bill to deal with predatory payday lenders! They have completely ignored the issue and didn’t even bring it up! I shall no longer vote for them!’

                          Voters weigh future alternatives, they do not ‘punish’ people for basic inaction. Voting against an action, maybe, total inaction, no.

                          Where the confusion arises is when opponents show up and say ‘Payday lenders are predatory, and my opponent has done nothing about them! But I will.’

                          But that’s not walking away from someone because they didn’t do anything, it’s walking towards someone who says they will do it better.

                          And hence it only matters if there actually is someone a) pointing this out, who b) has some sort of plausible alternative, and c) are not assumed to be harmful in general towards the voter.

                          I’m not sure that the Republicans can manage…any of those things with the vast majority of black voters.

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        • Asking specific number based questions is usually terrible polling, since most people don’t know the actual numbers. Polling actual numbers is how you get right-wingers crowing that people polled want a 20% tax rate, while those same people polled want rich people to pay more taxes. So, before you ask the immigration question, I’d ask them the following questions, then give the actual answers.

          1.) How many people live in the US (I’m serious about this)
          2.) What percentage of the population do you think are foreign born (This is important – as again, people are terrible at it. https://www.theguardian.com/society/datablog/2016/dec/13/europeans-massively-overestimate-muslim-population-poll-shows – People think 15%-ish of the population is Muslim when in reality, it’s less than 5%.)
          3.) How many immigrants do you think we currently allow?

          Put all that together, then say, “considering the current US population is 350 million, our current foreign born percentage is 15% according to the latest census, and we allow 1.2 million immigrants per year…” and then you can ask the more complicated question.

          Unless you’re willing to do that, the more/less/same question actually comes closer to reality. It consistently polls that about 30% want less, 40% want about the same, 20% want more, and 10% don’t know or have no opinion.

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          • So we’re willing to throw out polls because people don’t know what they’re talking about?

            I’m down. (As I said, I figure they’re just using the questions as proxies for other questions, if they’re obvious proxies.)

            But, at that point, I’m back to musing about the government report and how we don’t want the African-American vote to start seeing “Immigration” as their #1 issue.

            The last thing in the world the Democrats need is African-American voters asking “What have you done for me *LATELY*?” Or, crap, any group that gets swept into a “(whatever) vote” grouping. If it does, the 2022 article talking about the Emerging Democratic Majority Turns 20 won’t be sunny at all.

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              • Given that Jesse cited something behind a paywall it’s pretty hard to do more than speculate about the methodology.

                I don’t think this really redounds to the credit of the methodology though.

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              • I couldn’t *READ* it. I must have gone over my quota for the WaPo this month.

                As I said, I was stuck looking for other polls because Jesse’s link didn’t work for me.

                I provided links to the polls that I could read and to the articles that showed me those polls.

                So it’s not that I had a problem with those polls, it’s just that those polls were in a black box that I could not see, so I was stuck left to my own devices finding articles that talked about this sort of thing and polls that also talked about this sort of thing.

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                  • I appreciate that. Thank you!

                    I’ll check it out when I get back from the gym.

                    But here’s the question that I thought was most interesting just doing a quick scan down on the page:

                    20. Do you think that undocumented immigrants illegally crossing the border with Mexico is an important problem, or not?

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                    • I went through it and was mostly struck by how many “proxy” questions there were.

                      That said, I was surprised to see the state of the nation’s economy numbers doing somewhat well (the excellent/goods being over 50 for a while and 60 or over since November) while, at the same time, the “how are you doing *PERSONALLY*” numbers have been over 70 since the middle of last year.

                      (Based off of nothing but my gut feeling, polls that say “the country is doing good, but I’m doing *GREAT!* are better indicators than polls that say vice-versa.)

                      And the gun stuff doesn’t interest me and the cop stuff doesn’t interest me today (maybe tomorrow).

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                      • “It doesn’t strike me as likely that they’re going to be standing in solidarity with refugees and Hispanics who just want to make a better life for themselves and their families.”

                        Does this still strike you as unlikely?

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  3. This is all good observation. I might suggest that the reason some of these Republican commentators get into the hyperbolic claims is that there really are Republicans who imagine them to be true. The Republican friends I still know from the states can get really into the weeds with psychoanalyzing liberals. They hate the individual and want black people to abort their babies and hate freedom and decency and all of that blather. At a certain point, it sounds like listening to someone who’s still obsessed with an ex.

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    • I might suggest that the reason some of these Republican commentators get into the hyperbolic claims is that there really are Republicans who imagine them to be true.

      This suggests that those people are the real target audience for the claims. One generally preaches theories of false consciousness to the choir, rather than the unconverted.

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  4. 35% of all abortions come from 6% of the population: black women.

    BTW, without me even doing the slightest bit of research, I can tell this is a blatant attempt to ‘lie with statistics’.

    100% of all abortions can only come from 50% of the population, by definition, because only 50% of the population has the equipment to allow an abortion to happen.

    And anything that compares two percentages without bothering to mention that one number is ‘100%-based’ and the other is ‘50%-based’ is a blatant lie via statistics.

    And, yes, I am aware that the correct number is still disproportionately tilted towards black women, my point is that either the person who quoted that stat is either a) a moron, or b) a dishonest liar.

    …and now that I have written that, I went and checked _just in case_ they got the numbers ‘correct’ and just said it wrongly. Nope. Approximately 35% of abortions are by black women, and as black people are approximately 12% of the population (The correct thing to compare that 35% to), black women are presumably approximately 6%.

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    • It’s also worth noting that the age distributions of the different groups aren’t the same. The percentage of women of child bearing age vs the total population is probably pretty skewed by that big bump of white women over 42.

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      • Yes, but that at least would make a ‘misleading’ stat, instead of just outright lying by comparing 100% to 50%.

        So, anyway, let’s see how much that adds:

        While I don’t have time to find the actual statistics by ‘childbearing age’, a quick look at the generations informs me that black people are 21% of Gen X (Which is already halfway off the childbearing age), and 26% of millennials.

        So the real number is probably somewhere around 24%, assuming that the older end of Gen X is the whiter end. So…uh, it also doubles the number. Wow.

        People running around asserting ‘Black people of childbearing age are only 24% of the population but have 35% of the abortions’ presumably wouldn’t play that well.

        I know this seems utterly irrelevant to the discussion here, and it basically is, but I wish people were more willing to just flat out call people liars for citing statistics like this.

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  5. “Nobody sane thinks Democrats…[are] in favor of abortion in order to keep the black population down.”

    Wow, I think you’re way off on this.

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    • Living in a pretty red part of the country, I can attest that a lot of sane people sincerely believe this. Unfortunately, sanity and having a really unreasonable belief* or 70 are perfectly compatible. If mental illness was the only reason why people thought such things, life would be a lot easier and less antagonistic for everybody. And as a mentally ill person I get a little tired of “nobody SANE” arguments, for sure. Not tired enough to censor our writers, obvs. Just, meh. I don’t like them.

      *see moderator comment

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      • As the moderator, I am going to draw a line and say: please do NOT start an argument, folks, about whether “Democrats”, framed that broadly, actually want this. please don’t. the suspendhammer will probably end up flying freely. If you want to argue about whether some specific Democratic politicians/party officials/factions/nutjobs want that, that’s fine and there are ways to do it civilly. But I can’t deal with the whole “Democrats are the REAL racists” argument today, or with its equally dramatic counter-arguments about Republicans, libertarians, or whomever else it doesn’t make sense to generalize about that broadly. It’s not productive and it doesn’t really contribute to the conversation.

        Can’t. Won’t.

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      • “Nobody sane believes X” is a decent shorthand for “No one who’s well-informed about X and uses logic and evidence rather than prejudice and emotion to form their opinions on it believes that.” Like, the truth of “Nobody sane thinks Jews run the world” does not depend on whether Farrakhan needs to be institutionalized (though I am going to bring that up at the next Elders meeting.)

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        • I understand what it’s meant to be shorthand for. (I’m crazy, not stupid.) I think it’s an unwise conflation to make, for a few different reasons, nonetheless. One could say “Nobody rationally believes X” or “Nobody reasonably believes X” nearly as easily, and the historical reasons why we say “Nobody sane believes X” instead are pretty murky and unpleasant, regardless of what angle you look at it from.

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  6. This is a really good explanation of the reasons the different groups have migrated in overwhelming numbers to their various parties (in this case, cultural and racial minorities and immigrants to Democrats).

    But the issue here is really about the stragglers and outliers. I’m not sure you ever quite come back around to addressing the “ownership” question per se. Yes, there is reason for minorities to feel like other minorities ought not to support the GOP or Trump. But the question here is, to what extent should they view their role to be to try to enforce such voting? To what extent are they in fact acting like they “own” the voting patterns of their social group? (I would certainly listen to a critique of those saying that they are acting that way that says that that is a gross exaggeration?) To what extent and in what forms is such enforcement justified? To what extent and when do outliers have a legitimate grievance for being treated as though they are breaking a legitimate community expectation or requirement by not voting correctly?

    These are the questions that define whether this ownership attitude really exists. The conservatives advancing the view that it does and it’s wrong may not acknowledge that there are good reasons that the majorities of the minority groups have moved as groups to a particular party, but most of the rest of us do. What’s in question is what are the parameters of legitimate expectations and enforcement on the minorities of the minorities that diverge from those trends?

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    • I can’t remember the s***head who said it (there are so many) but someone running for Congress(?) said that any military officer who is a Democrat has something wrong mentallly.

      So there’s at least one conservative who is interested in policing ‘ownership’ for his own side.

      Eta here it is, Kevin Nicholson. He’s running for the US Senate and questioned the cognitive ability of any veteran that would vote Democratic

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