There is anxiety in the ranks among the Democrats. I saw this reflected in a new report on some polling that was done in 2017. The poll came from the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group. The Democracy Fund was launched by the founder of eBay, and is a Leftist project. The Voter Study Group claims to be “nonpartisan,” but they are sociologists, so we know they are Leftists.
The research involved a k-means cluster analysis on the dataset to group the electorate using their prioritization of issues on a Likert scale, which allowed for a grouping of the electorate into five distinct voting “clusters.” In “Placing Priority,” these groups were named
Democrat/Independent Liberal Elites (DILE),
Democrat-Leaning Working Class (DLWC),
Moderate Younger Middle-Income (MYMI),
Conservative Younger (CY), and
Conservative Older (CO).
Each one of these groups, formed based on issue priorities rather than demographics, exhibited distinct political and ideological preferences.
Right off the bat I thought they had something really interesting. They used measures of attitudes and voting preferences to sort the data. They ended up with five groups, plus ten percent in a category called “Not Identified.” Do you see how they uncovered a natural division on the Democrat side between elites and working class? But on the Republican side, the divide is between older and younger voters.
The report expresses a great deal of distress because they did not find as much difference between the two Republican-voting groups as they found between the two Democrat-voting groups. In fact, the differences between the Conservative Younger and Conservative Older groups are inconsequential. Among the conservatives, the older voters are more interested in protecting Social Security and Medicare. The younger conservative voters are less interested in the social issues and could be characterized as a little bit libertarian.
They have little to say about that. Their focus is on the Democrat divisions. They are really concerned, because they see trouble on the horizon. Here is a key paragraph:
Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which had significant focus on climate change, racial and gender equality, and gay rights as important issues, was received positively by DILEs (nearly 97 percent of whom voted for Clinton). However, in the primary against Senator Bernie Sanders, she found herself defending the economic record of President Obama, which subsequently caused her to become the candidate of the status quo. Donald Trump — with his significant focus on trade deals, tax cuts, and bringing jobs home — more directly incorporated economic change into his overall campaign message, yielding a meaningful boost from DLWCs, a far larger cluster group by percent of the electorate. This magnified Trump’s appeal among the four clusters — DLWC, MYMI, CY, and CO — that ranked the economy and jobs as top issues. According to national exit poll data, among those voters who said the economy was “not so good,” Trump won an absolute majority over Clinton, 53 percent to 40 percent.
So the economy and jobs were priority issues for all voters except the Democrat-Elites.
All Republican candidates need to be running on a platform of needing the support of the people so that they can keep the Trump economy booming. That is how they can pull the “working-class Democrats” away from Leftist stupid stuff. Democrat Elites, of course, are a lost cause.
As are our own elites, but they are small numbers and concentrated in hopelessly blue states so that they don’t really matter.
The view from Never
Mona Charen wrote a column on this topic: https://ricochet.com/558866/a-word-on-behalf-of-religion/
Overall, I agree with Ms. Charen’s assessment. I am surprised that she is surprised. I am one of those “religiously observant Trump voters” who she apparently now agrees, based on the Elkins data, didn’t all of a sudden turn into a racist Nazi white supremacist Klansman. Rather, we made a transactional choice to support the President despite his flaws.
This is why guys like me have been so infuriated by the unfair and unsupported accusations of wrongdoing leveled by commentators like Ms. Charen.
Unfortunately, in this same column, her erroneous prejudice remains on display:
Organized religion has suffered the worst loss of reputation. In 1973, 65 percent of Americans expressed strong trust. That has declined to 38 percent in 2018.
The ongoing scandals involving sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have doubtless contributed to organized religion’s loss of standing. That some major evangelical leaders, like Robert Jeffress, Tony Perkins, and Jerry Falwell, Jr., have become shameless flacks for a cruel and immoral president has sullied their own reputations while giving the side eye to the faith that supposedly commands non-situational ethics.
Please don’t lecture me about the demands of the Christian faith. Ms. Charon seems clueless on the subject. There’s the whole “render unto Caesar” part. There’s the whole “in this world, but not of this world” part. It is far, far more complicated than she thinks. It certainly does not demand that we never associate with sinners. Quite the contrary.
The Jews and the Christians should share this understanding. Read the book of Daniel.
Further, the very Gallup survey that Ms. Charen cites does not remotely support her hypothesis, which attributes declining “strong trust” in organized religion to Trump. Let’s look at the numbers. The Gallup data is here (scroll down about halfway).
“Strong trust” in organized religion was 65% in 1965 and 38% in 2018. And this is supposedly Trump’s fault, or more precisely, the fault of religious leaders who supported Trump.
But it was down to 42% in 2015, before Trump. So no, it seems to have little or nothing to do with Trump.
I suspect that the decline doesn’t even have much to do with the Catholic Church scandals, but with the appalling degeneration of the morality of the Democrats. It is very difficult, these days, to be a religious believer and a Democrat, given the illegitimacy, abortion, and homosexuality issues. This is the growing cultural divide, so it is perfectly understandable that increasingly radical Democrats would express less support for organized religion.
This, incidentally, is precisely what the Elkins study cited by Ms. Charen says. (“Left-right culture wars over L.G.B.T. rights — particularly government sanction of same-sex marriages — have likely soured many Democrats’ views of Christians.”)