Today's news release May 10, 2016 - Clinton-Trump Close In Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll Finds ought to worry Democrats, particularly in the case of Pennsylvania. To understand Pennsylvania results, Democrats have to understand what their tunnel-vision policies have done to white blue collar Americans as those policies are viewed by white blue collar Americans. This really should worry Democrats.
Many opinion pieces such as this one have reflected what in my opinion is an unwarranted confidence on the Democratic side:
Start here: Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia have voted for the Democratic presidential nominee in every election between 1992 and 2012. Add them up, and you get 242 electoral votes.
By contrast, 13 states have voted for the Republican presidential nominee in each of the past six elections. Total them up and you get 102 electoral votes.
There are two important takeaways from these facts: The generic Democratic nominee starts with an electoral vote lead of 140, and the Democratic nominee needs to find only 28 votes beyond that reliable base to win the presidency.
But this is 2016. Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee. Nothing about Donald Trump should make one think that recent election history applies.
Below is my Electoral College Contest map (as of 5/8/2016) based upon my own growing awareness of the perceived Democratic Party social class warfare against white blue collar workers. It appears this perception has created a sizeable group of spiteful voters.
Compare the two maps. Take a hard look at what's not blue. I think not only Pennsylvania but Illinois will be tough General Election contests. Oddly, for a tunnel vision Democrat to understand why I think that, I have to begin with West Virginia.
Notice that West Virginia is red. Jack Kennedy won West Virginia in 1960. So did Bill Clinton in 1996. After that came Al Gore under whose leadership the Democrats abandoned the blue collar working people of West Virginia.
From the Washington Post:
One of the better representations of the current political moment came on Thursday night in Charleston, W.Va.And in 2016 the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, said this:
Donald Trump -- wearing, as always, a dark suit, white shirt and long tie -- welcomed representatives of the West Virginia Coal Association on the stage during his superfluous campaign event in the state. (After all, he's running unopposed at this point.) In front of a backdrop of audience members, some holding signs reading "Trump digs coal," the men came up, presenting Trump with a hard hat. Trump, after waiting for a bit, put the hat on. Mugging, he mimicked a shoveling motion, as though he was down in the mines, digging out coal.
I'm the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country, Because we're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.That is what West Virginia coal country residents heard.
Should there be a smirk on the faces of those that "Feel-the-Bern", the Bernie Sanders web page on energy makes it clear what the Democratic position is:
The United States must transform its energy system away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal, and towards energy-efficient, sustainable, clean, and renewable energy solutions such as wind, solar, and geothermal.As the Washington Post article notes:
Unlike Trump, who running as a Republican can simply embrace the coal industry without qualms, Clinton represents a party that prioritizes action on climate change. And climate change has been directly linked to all of the coal that West Virginians (and Kentuckians and Pennsylvanians and so on) have dug out of the ground for so many years.
Of course, Clinton's statement placed in context was somewhat different from what folks heard as she was assuring those folks we won't forget them:
But in truth it is the Democratic view, the soundbite stuck and the rest of it is meaningless. What the folks in coal country know is reflected in the differences in this chart between the Bush years and the Obama years:
That is because, as the Washington Post more politically perceptively notes, the West Virginia coal decline has been made inevitable as has been the decline of other American jobs that actually produce a product:
The question at hand, though, is if that trend can be reversed -- as Trump claims -- or if those workers need to prepare for something else, as Clinton suggests.Yes, Clinton clearly expressed the effect of the policies of environmentally correct Democratic Party of Al Gore. In saying we won't forget those folks, she is saying to these hurting blue-collar white people: "I'm from The Government and I'm here to help you."
There's not much evidence that the industry can be revived. There will continue to be public pressure on the use of coal as the effects of climate change continue to be felt, and with natural gas prices remaining low, the use of cheaper, cleaner fuel will remain more enticing for producers. The nature of the coal marketplace has changed.
A good analogue is manufacturing jobs. Over time, manufacturing jobs in the United States have dropped precipitously, though they've recovered somewhat since the recession.
When it became economically advantageous to move manufacturing overseas, that's exactly what happened. Despite many politicians' pledges to former manufacturing strongholds, there's little leverage to get manufacturers to bring production back to the United States once again -- and lots of incentive for it not to be done here. The factors at play are different, but coal's in a similar position. Stopgaps can be introduced; long-term recovery is highly unlikely.
But politics are politics. So you get a guy donning a hard hat and resolutely shoveling imaginary coal, pledging to turn back the clock -- a guy who looks more like the owner of a coal company than a guy whose family has worked the mines for decades. For everything Trump was shoveling, though, he was also offering hope.
As those of us who attempted to implement the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) of 1973 (and its successors) know, these programs didn't do much to help restore to their prior status predominately white unionized blue collar age 40+ industrial workers who were used to making upper middle class incomes.
If those programs had worked, today the American median family income would be near $75,000 a year instead of slightly more than $50,000.
In the meantime, it is a fact that many Trump supporters have lost or are facing the loss of their good paying jobs because of environmental and trade policies that are, let's face it, policies advocated by the Democratic Party.
We tend to see social class as based upon people having the same social, economic, and/or educational status. But over a period of time in the U.S., our political system has forced in another element - "belief structure." Belief structures can divide people and I'm not just talking about religion or Ayn Rand's Objectivism.
Pundits tried to define the political landscape with Red and Blue colors. But in recent decades that divide has been muddied with belief dichotomies such as:
- American economic behavior is destroying the Earth''s environment versus environmental protection regulations are destroying the American standard of living
- The cost of the popular iDevices/clothing/food must be kept down through lower production costs versus outsourcing of production to China/India/Mexico is causing American unemployment/underemployment/low wages
Recognizing that those "hurting American humans" vote and pay taxes (unlike polar bears) seems to be beyond the understanding of the American environmental community. But try to get a lefty environmental nut to recognize that the first political hurdle that should have been overcome was not reducing carbon emissions but proving that "green jobs" are a real thing.
Back in the late 1990's environmentalist could have positioned themselves to be politically stronger by actually creating a lot of green jobs, thousands of green jobs, that paid former coal miners in West Virginia $50,000+ a year, continuously for five years, with a bright long-term future evident. Instead, today all those Al Gore followers are on their Chinese-made iPhones tweeting to each other.
And here is a political fact righteous liberals ignore:
In other words, the voter who may determine who will be President in 2016 will be a 46-year-old Pennsylvania white woman who does not have a college degree and who, along with her husband, 20 years ago worked for a company that paid her $20 an hour ($31.06 in 2016 dollars) actually producing a tangible commodity.
Today she is working in some service work producing nothing tangible making $15 an hour which Bernie Sanders types say should be the minimum wage, saying it without thinking about her. The fact that it's less than half the value of her pay 20 years ago which she thinks is the major problem in her life escapes the Democrats who vocally worry about minimum wage workers.
As I noted here on April 23 in Poverty, White Women, and Death - Bernie fails at complex issues Part 2, the progressive Democrats have progressed so far into their bubble that they may not have noticed the recent Washington Post story that explains this chart (Pennsylvania has been outlined for emphasis):
These demographic facts combined with Donald Trump's win creates more tan states that in my opinion are "in play."
The fact is the 21st Century "meathead" is ignoring the likely early death of the 21st Century former-homemaker-now-WalMart-stock-clerk Edith Bunker while disdaining the 21st Century former well-paid-blue-collar-worker-now-mediocre-paid-truck-driver Archie Bunker.
Only it's Edith that's become resentful and depressed hearing meathead's diatribe about the environment, his student loans, and Bernie Sanders.
Taking advantage of these demographics, Donald Trump turned the primary election process into a reality game show with issues addressed in his own 140 characters or less simplistic tweets.
And Edith read this tweet and thinks there may be something to it because there is:
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's minions preparing for the General Election have generated lengthy, wise, nuanced issue statements that rattle on, and on, and on.
And so in the latest round of the five day rolling Reuters Poll, white female likely voters who have an annual income of $25,000 - $75,000 favor Donald Trump by 54% to Clinton's 27%.
It has created a curious political play - in drama parlance, a tragedy. Assuming nothing unexpected happens, in this year of the rise of political populism America will have two disliked Presidential candidates to choose from - a multibillionaire and a multimillionaire.
Absent a public meltdown or damaging court proceeding, neither candidate has a clear road to 270 Electoral College votes in this year of populist spite.
But in that Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania the following pieces of data ought to worry Democrats a lot:
Pennsylvania voters say 51 - 42 percent that Trump would do a better job than Clinton handling the economy.In other words, we're back to that Presidential politics adage: "It's the economy, stupid."
But in those swing states where the electorate is 80% white, the contest variable may be white women age 35+ with no college degree for whom the economic issue is good jobs already lost, not getting a higher minimum wage at their new WalMart job.
An American politician once said:
"Send them a message," he urged in his campaigns for the presidency. "Them" meant the "pointy-headed professors who can't park a bicycle straight"; the "briefcase-totin' bureaucrats"; and "the beatnik crowd that run Washington".It's tempting for progressives/liberals to look down at the people in Pennsylvania who think Trump would handle the economy better than Clinton. But that Quinnipiac poll tells us:
Clinton is more intelligent than Trump, Pennsylvania voters say 52 - 35 percent and she has higher moral standards, voters say 48 - 39 percent.In other words, this particular group of surveyed voters recognize that Clinton is more intelligent and experienced than Trump and they don't support Trump's pronouncements on immigration. But they don't think an establishment Democrat can do a better job to improve the economy for their benefit than a multibillionaire reality game show host who's many corporations have filed for bankruptcy over the years.
Clinton has the temperament to handle an international crisis, Pennsylvania voters say 55 - 42 percent, while Trump does not, voters say 62 - 33 percent.
Illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. and apply for citizenship, 58 percent of voters say, while 10 percent say they can stay but not apply for citizenship and 27 percent say they should be required to leave the U.S.
Pennsylvania voters oppose 51 - 45 percent building a wall along the border with Mexico. White voters are divided as 49 percent want a wall with 47 percent opposed. Non-white voters are opposed 71 - 26 percent.
And that particularly applies to white women voters age 35+ with no college degree who will vote this November, in Pennsylvania and ...well... all the area on this map not "revitalized" ... you know, the areas many believe were abandoned by the Democratic Party:
There is much to be done by the Clinton campaign. Almost everything that comes out of Hillary's mouth or is written by her minions from this point on should be viewed from the perspective of that theoretical 21st Century Edith Bunker. And if it doesn't work to get her vote, it must be changed.
Unfortunately there is a real deep down need to appeal to that theoretical 21st Century meathead that must be abandoned. Oh, and that theoretical 21st Century Archie? Nobody ever competes for his vote.