Electoral Trends: Into The Biden Era

Luis A. Mendez

He/Him, Husband, Pet Owner, Proud Floridian, Tampa Bay Sports Fan, Author, Cinephile, Gold Derby Film Awards Voter, Psephologist, Bourbon Guy

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38 Responses

  1. Chip Daniels
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    says:

    One trend that (IMO) has confounded political pundits and analysists is the swing of the conservative faction to identity politics and how this has diminished the ability of conventional political analysis to predict outcomes.

    Conventional political analysis starts with the premise that pockebook issues matter and are a large determinant of how people vote; to compress it to hyperbole, the theory is if you make people better off financially you will win their vote.

    But over the past 10 years or so, this has been less and less true. We have now years of empirical data of Americans voting Republican even when they oppose their economic policies.

    Just in the past two days Biden has signed executive orders increasing food aid , increasing school lunches, and offering unemployment insurance to workers who refuse to return to a workplace if they will be exposed to the virus.

    On their face, by conventional analysis, these things should steal voters away from the Republican of rural blue collar workers. But we are almost assured they won’t. The very recipients of these benefits will vociferously oppose the person who provided them, for reasons.

    So, your advice to Biden (“Stay Popular!”) is about right, since only by appealing to a shared identity can he hope to peel off some of the opposition votes.Report

  2. North
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    says:

    The elephant in the Elephants’ room is Trump. The GOP can curse him till the cows come home but he brought real populist blood into the party. The counter argument is that he drove out suburban educated voters but I have a suspicion that this merely accelerated an existing trend.

    Historically without Trump on the ballot that Trump new blood doesn’t show up to vote. The huge questions, at the moment, lie primarily within the right-wing coalition: Where do they go from here? What do Trump and his supporters do? A return to the Romneybot repulitarian positions seems dubious- the howling hypocrisy of falling back on Ryanomics after four years of Trump would be really hard for them to explain and, as Trump demonstrated, there is not truly a significant libertarian nor even libertarian leaning cohort in the electorate.

    This leaves Trump and his populists. Does Trump himself wage a war of vengeance and retribution against the GOP? If so, a right-wing civil war could shatter the party or, at minimum, cripple it in the upcoming cycles. Does he hand off his mantle to a charismatic successor (Cruz, Hawley and Don Jr. all just wet themselves in anticipation)? If he chose to do so and the successor was a charismatic and capable politician, they might transform the GOP into something that’d continue/become a formidable electoral opponent to the Dems but would also strike directly at the pocketbook interests of the GOP elite.

    On the other side we have Biden. A desperate attempt to have another bite at the apple of left of center meritocratic governance. If Biden allows himself to be bogged down or plummets in popularity, he could bring about a huge dethroning of the Clinton-Obama style of governing. If he manages to contain the Trumpulist right, accomplish improvements in the general welfare (and Trump sure gave him a low bar to pass on that) and keeps the HELL out of any foreign wars then he’ll likely solidify that same style and the identarian left will be contained out of power and may well implode from its own contradictions.
    Interesting times.Report

    • Philip H in reply to North
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      says:

      You missed a key – Ivanka. She and Jared have moved to Florida, and she reportedly liked campaigning there so much she’s mulling a state level run. If she takes on Rubio or Scott for Senate or runs after the governorship she could test that populism on a red state again, and with a refined gentile air. Notice she rarely got any negative press?Report

      • North in reply to Philip H
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        says:

        It is possible, anything is possible, I just don’t know if it’s likely. I haven’t seen a ton of negative press on her, primarily because she wasn’t.. anything. Just a rich girl who’s dad gave her a bunch of state responsibilities for no justifiable reason and who traded on her dads name a lot to make money.

        I hope she does run. Rubio and Scott both deserve it. The GOP richly deserves to have the Trumps plaguing them for several cycles.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to North
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      says:

      Biden had historic turnout thanks to Trump also being on the ballot.

      Say what you will about Trump, but he inspired many people to go to the polls (and many of them for the first time!).

      Now, I don’t know how many of Biden votes were Obama -> Trump -> Biden.
      I don’t know how many of the Biden votes were Obama -> 3rd Party -> Biden.
      I don’t know how many of the Biden votes were AYFKM -> AYFKM -> Okay, fine. Heck with it. Biden.

      But one thing that keeps getting overlooked is the whole “a vote to reject X is not a vote to endorse Y”.

      If you see the last few elections as not “who got elected” but “who got rejected”, it reads different.

      So I am going to make the most banal, milquetoast prediction yet:

      2022 is going to be about jobs, jobs, jobs.Report

      • North in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        If Biden is successful I expect that turnout will decline. I have always said that low turnout is an indicator that a lot of potential voters are generally content with their current state of affairs.

        I think that’s an optimistic take for 2022, I like it.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to North
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      says:

      “populist”

      You keep using that word…Report

      • North in reply to Chip Daniels
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        says:

        Sort of like how you use racist but I think populist better encompasses the group Trump lured into the GOP.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to North
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          says:

          So Biden voters aren’t part of the populi?

          Serious question.
          Because the entire Trumpian mindset is that there are two groups of people, the Real American People whose votes count, and the unreal people whose votes don’t count.

          By saying that the Trumpists are “populists”, that is “of the people” it accepts the rightwing viewpoint.Report

          • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels
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            says:

            In fairness, I’m willing to extend Racist to Dem voters too. No need for everyone to exclude everyone else.Report

          • North in reply to Chip Daniels
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            says:

            Saying Trump brought populists into the GOP does not imply, nor require, that he brought all populists everywhere into the GOP nor suggest that other politicians aren’t populist. I certainly don’t think that is true, nor do I assign to populists the moral meanings that you seem to- which makes sense as you’re far better a lefty than I.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to North
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              says:

              What does the word populist mean to you?
              Who is included or excluded from its meaning?Report

              • North in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Populist in this connation would mean a person who professes to believe in the wisdom of common people and who claims to prioritize their interests.

                For example, Trump appealed to populists in ’16 with explicit repudiation of elite GOP positions at the time like support for the War on Terror, a desire to slash and restructure safety nets and indifference to the impact unfettered free trade was having on workers in the US.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to North
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                says:

                He then proceeded to govern with the highest level of felicity to Republican orthodoxy.Report

              • InMD in reply to LeeEsq
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                says:

                He did but I think that has more to do with Trump’s lack of principles of any sort other than self-aggrandizement and total inexperience and ineptness at governing. He was weak and incapable so the actual policy movement was McConnell.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to InMD
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                says:

                Or he was just a big bamboozle fraudster as he always demonstrated throughout his career. Anybody surprised that Trump used the Presidency to engage in theft and bullying needs to get their cognitive skills examined.Report

              • InMD in reply to LeeEsq
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                says:

                I don’t disagree. I believe he was the proverbial dog that caught the car. He didn’t know what to do with it once he got it so he went with what came naturally. So, much like the dog who turns to lick his own… wait, this metaphor is getting out of hand.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to InMD
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                says:

                I would also add that he was probably under the mistaken impression that he could just decree things. He was unwilling to do the hard work that would have been necessary to get Congressional Republicans to implement such policies.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Michael Cain
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                Indeed, the desire to rule by an imperious wave of a hand is the mark of a true Tribune of The Plebs.Report

              • North in reply to Michael Cain
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                I mean you’re all right. Trump hit upon a theme that was a giant gaping weakness in the rights political structure and he rode it all the way to the Whitehouse. We’ve seen utterly nothing to suggest he actually believed it, or even truly understood it. Likewise nothing Trump did suggests he had the work ethic or even comprehension of his office necessary to implement anything.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to North
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                says:

                OK, but this definition includes Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell, Hillary Clinton, AOC, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders, that is, everybody.

                We see it right here on this blog with claims that tax cuts on hedge funds will produce jobs for the common man or that rolling back government regulation will benefit hair braiders (as well as global corporations).

                Populism, and adherence to small r republicanism and small d democracy is a prerequisite to being elected to any office in American politics.

                And even more so, claiming to be a member of The People is mandatory for us all as citizens; Who on this blog is not a member of We, The People?

                This is ironically why European style leftism failed in America; Even our wealthiest elites declare themselves to be jus’ folks and the peasants bristle as being called such.

                In my experience, “populist” in American usage is a word that seeks to draw boundaries around some group or another and declare them to be outsiders, not of The People, but alien, and unwanted.

                For leftists, its people like bankers and CEOs, and for the Trumpists, its nonwhite people and nonChristians.Report

              • North in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Every populist has their own definition and ruleset about what is and is not populist, just like every left identarian and has their own definition and ruleset about what does and does not constitute being woke or every right identarian has their own definition and ruleset about who constitutes the volk. That is a fundamental weakness of those modes of thinking.

                Romneybot, libertarians and technocratic liberals generally say their policies are, in the big picture, the best ones for everyone but they also typically claim that they understand this and that the masses do not. That’s a big distinction between populists and non-populists.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to North
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                says:

                How valuable is a word which has any one of infinite number of meanings, each equally valid? Where populism can mean two flatly contradictory things?

                And as for your last paragraph, the very essence of populism is to claim a special knowledge of what “The People” want, the vox populi.

                Without that special claim of having the power of The Voice Of The People, populism is just “what I think is good for youse all”.Report

              • North in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                There’s nothing contradictory in the term populism as I’m using it; populists share similar interests- they want what’s good for their community and them, regardless of other considerations. I’m not seeing any contradiction.

                Claiming special knowledge of that “the People” want is indeed the essence of populism but the populist politician claims to be channeling that knowledge directly from the vox populi want. Their actions are based simply on “this is what the people want” and are in opposition to “this is what the experts say will work best” or “this is what God says is moral” or “This is what the generals say is needed” or “this is what Professor Egghead says is sustainable” or “This is what logic and reason says makes sense”. In many cases the populist politician explicitly repudiates those other sources of knowledge, knowhow or rationale in favor of “this is what the people want”.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Any major party has to have a populist element, or it will disappear. As I’ve noted before, from 1980-2016 the Republican Party appealed to social populists (conventional morality) and the Democratic Party to economic populists (aid). The flipside is that the Republicans were seen as fat cats and the Democrats as degenerates.Report

              • InMD in reply to Pinky
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                says:

                I think this could be expanded to say any party in a democratic system has to be at least a little bit populist. I also like North’s distinction. Maybe populism isn’t so much about what the policy is and more about who knows which policy is best.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
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                says:

                See, now the boundaries of the word are pushed yet further with the adjective “social” populists, when what it really means is just “conservative views on sexual morality”.

                I mean, try to define the opposite number and you see what I mean.
                The opposite of the populi, that is, “the People”, are the aristocrats.
                If I support transpeople’s rights, does that make me somehow an aristocrat? Am I no longer one of the plebians?

                By your definition, a billionaire who attends a megachurch is a populist and a homeless transwoman is an elite.

                How is the word “populist” doing any useful work in this sentence?

                I might as well call them “social Madisonians” for all that matters.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Pinky
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                says:

                I’d like to see state-level populism added to any discussion. The populism that shifted Colorado from red to blue was environmentalism: public lands for recreation for the masses; emission controls that suit the suburban bicyclists.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Michael Cain
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                says:

                But the term is being used arbitrarily.

                If I said, as many conservative writers do, that the people who support bike lanes are the elites and those who prefer wider auto lanes are populist, would that be an incorrect use of the term?

                What logic tells us how to apply it?

                Because everyone here notices how the term “populist” is always used to confer moral superiority right?
                Pinky likes conservative morality, so his views are social populism; You prefer bike lanes so these are environmental populism; A Bernie fan likes economic redistribution so it is economic populism and so on.

                The word just becomes a packaging label like “Authentic” that doesn’t have any real meaning but seeks to elevate it above some unknowable but latent moral inferiority.

                Populists, like Real Americans, are always very, very careful to avoid speaking openly about who is excluded from their circle, but they are vehement that a circle exists and the forces outside it are not to be trusted.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Pinky
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                says:

                InMD – I agree about North’s distinction. I guess I buried it in my priors. The populist is the one who trusts in the people’s instincts, and that’s typically family and a safety net.

                Chip – I’ve found that conservatives don’t like my framing with regard to economic issues, and liberals don’t like it with regard to social issues. I don’t think it’s because I’m wrong, but because it takes people out of their assumptions. I have no problem with the idea that parties or individuals are populist in some respects and elitist in others. I’d hate to meet the person who isn’t.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Pinky
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                says:

                It’s very American to think of oneself as populist. I mean, talk to me about trade sometime. I’ll talk all day about the benefits of free trade for everyone. I’m not trying to help out the wealthy; in fact, it’s the poor who get the greatest benefit from open trade policies. But keep me talking about it, and at some point I’ll say that trade is good for the masses even if they don’t know it, and I have their best interests at heart, and they don’t know what’s good for them. Ding! I’m an elitist on trade. Not because I believe in the principle that the elites know better, but because I think that, in this case, the truth is counter-intuitive.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                In my experience, “populist” in American usage is a word that seeks to draw boundaries around some group or another and declare them to be outsiders, not of The People, but alien, and unwanted.

                That’s a pretty good definition/description.

                I’d suggest the Trumpists are more “we-the-people vs non-Americans and elites” rather than just nonwhites but whatever.Report

  3. Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    And into the Biden era we go:

    California attorney general launches civil rights probe of L.A. County Sheriff’s Department

    California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Friday announced he is launching a civil rights investigation into the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, an agency beset by allegations of deputy misconduct, controversial shootings and resistance to oversight from Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

    Calling Beccera’s investigation “a step forward in the names of people like Dijon Kizzee and Andres Guardado and so many others” killed by L.A. deputies, Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, applauded the move. “We would like to see an end to sheriff gangs, we would like to see an unveiling of the corruption of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department,” she said.

    Xavier Becerra was my former Congressman, and moved up to AG when Kamala Harris won the Senate spot. This investigation isn’t directly tied to BLM, but the changed political climate which allows this to be a career-enhancing move by the AG is definitely thanks to BLM and the protests.

    My point is that protests work and elections do have consequences.Report

  4. gabriel conroy
    Ignored
    says:

    Luis, I really enjoy your pieces on politics here at OT. I don’t always get a chance to read them, but learn a lot when I do.Report

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