TPM Reader DL thinks my whole premise is wrong …
Josh wrote this in his blog entry on the Intra-Dem divide:
“But the reality is that simple math tells you that some significant number of white voters who were activated by racist appeals need to be won back to turn back the tide of Trumpism. This has the certainty of math.”
I’m not in the habit of correcting Josh’s thought processes, but he has this wrong in every respect. While it is clearly true that some or even many white voters were activated by Trump’s racist appeal, the notion that they must be turned to change electoral outcomes is flat out ridiculous.
First, if Hillary had narrow won instead of narrowly lost, we would not be talking about this at all. Trump margin of “victory” in the electoral college falls definitively in the category of uncertainty, and a couple of minor tweaks one way or another – early voting being allowed or encouraged more broadly in PA, MI and WI, for example – on non-numerical variables would have changed the outcome.
Setting aside the idea that any white voters encouraged by Trump’s racist campaign could be won back, I’m not sure that the Dems want them or their influence on the party or the country. Simply put, if they can be won “back” they will not be reliable as the Rs will just try to win them back again. In this regard, I have no problem admitting that Bernie Sanders probably would have won more of those voters and would have beaten Trump all other factors being equal. But with mathematical certainty I can conclude that all other factors would not have been equal.
Trump’s margin of “victory” was far more a result of sexism than racism. Again, racism was an important factor for some voters and enough in the three deciding states to tilt the Electoral College all or nothing scheme. But the only reason Hillary didn’t run away with it (as it looked like she would even two weeks prior to the election) and win 350 electoral votes was the effective, multi-decade bashing of Hillary Clinton specifically and the Clintons and all Ds generally. That made her susceptible to lingering sexism particularly among many blue collar men (white, black and Hispanic), many white women, and many suburban white women who otherwise would have abhorred Trump. It seems just as likely that Bernie’s gender would have held as many of the decisive swing voters as his economic policies.
In the end, Hillary still would have won if suburban women who might lean voting for the R candidate for president as a default, but hated Trump, found just enough about Hillary to ignore Trump’s racism, sexism and disgusting personal attributes to hold their noses and keep Hillary from claiming the job. In that regard, Trumpism almost lost an otherwise winnable election. If Trump can hold those suburban swing voters – which it doesn’t look like he’s doing very well – against a D candidate without Hillary’s baggage, he might win re-election just barely. But those voters are the better target than those activated via racist appeal, mathematically and strategically, since they respond to reason and a candidate’s personal qualities.
I dare say that Joe Biden would have walloped Trump on that basis, and would in 2020 as well. Hillary, despite her negatives, would have walloped Trump if not for the last minute Comey crap, which shifted just enough voters’ perceptions to ignore (rather than embrace) Trump’s negative campaign and qualities among late deciders. That’s a mathematical certainty that I can prove to a clear and convincing standard (using early voting data), and beyond a reasonable doubt with scientific sampling of voters before and after the Comey crap.
All the Ds need to do to beat Trump is nominate someone who fewer people hate.