Friday, November 6, 2020

Worser Angels


You probably thought we just went through a national election, but it turns out what really happened was Most Americans were sending a message in a bottle, and for some reason which will go unexplained they were addressing it to David Brooks's information bubble so he could get a better idea of what's going on in Most Americans' lives and share it with his readers ("What the Voters Are Trying to Tell Us"):

Yup, I wanted a grand rebuke, too. I wanted Trump demolished by 10 points. But elections are educational events. Voters are not always wise, but they are usually comprehensible. They know more about their own lives than we in our information bubbles do, and they almost always tell us something important.

The first thing we heard from most Americans — since Joe Biden’s popular vote victory seems all but certain — is that Donald Trump is unacceptable. We live in a divided, dug-in nation, but millions more white evangelicals voted Democratic in 2020 than in 2016. Many people voted against partisan predilections to remove a man who is a unique menace to the foundations of this country. That is no meager accomplishment.

The second thing voters told us is this: Separate church and state. We’ve long had political polarization in this country and we still will. But over the last few years polarization has transmogrified into something worse: a religious war.

Even the worser angels of David Brooks's nature are so much better than ours, it's no surprise that the better angels are totally insufferable.

We don't at the moment know by what percentage Biden has beaten Trump, other than that it wasn't by 10 points, as David Brooks would have wished, but we do know how to interpret it, in a way that David Brooks coincidentally might approve of. It's enough to prove that nobody wants Donald Trump to be president, but not enough to prove that those of us who wanted Donald Trump not to be president were right. I hope that's clear.

Some of the white evangelicals who overcame their partisan predilections to vote against Trump this year as opposed to four years ago, for example, scored a non-meager accomplishment, in recognizing the uniqueness of the menace to the country that Trump poses. On the other hand not all of the white evangelicals voted this way, suggesting that there's a religious war underway, dividing some white evangelicals from white evangelicals, which would be bad.

I'm glad Most Americans sent the message to Brooks instead of me, because I never would have gotten all that.

The religious war in question is between the cults of Trumpism and Wokeism:

Trumpism and Wokeism are not equivalent phenomena, but they both serve as secular religions for their disciples. They offer a binary logic of good and evil, a cultlike membership experience, apocalyptic or utopian visions, witch trials for the excommunication of the impure and the sense of personal meaning that comes while fighting a holy war.

Or as Bos put it,

He doesn't reveal who the combatants are, except to suggest that they aren't Most Americans, but I'd like to note that something not quite a majority but hella close to one voted for the eponym of Trumpism, our emperor, and literally nobody voted for DeRay, who must be as close as you can come to a high priest of Wokeism, if such a thing exists, but wasn't on the ballot (I would absolutely consider voting for him if he was on mine, depending what he was running for, but he wasn't running for anything). Also, come to think of it, I haven't seen any representations of DeRay as God-Emperor, in Roman armor and laurel crown, or fantastical myth narratives in which he rescues the nation's children from a sex-trafficking ring that's also a political party. Or heard him call for the excommunication of the impure (I myself have called for the excommunication of Billy Barr, for restoring the federal death penalty in contempt of Roman Catholic dogma, but that's not my church.) He did get a positive ruling from the Supreme Court the other day, in a case where a Baton Rouge cop sued him for "negligently directing a protest":

McKesson’s case stemmed from a protest of the killing of Alton Sterling, a Black man, by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in July 2016. The protest took place on a highway in front of the police headquarters in the city.

One officer, who is unnamed in the lawsuit, was hit by a piece of concrete or rock allegedly thrown by a protester and injured while police sought to clear the highway. While the person who threw the object wasn’t identified, the officer sued McKesson on the theory that his alleged organization of the protest made him liable for damages....

The justices, in an unsigned order, wrote that [the] federal appeals court should have obtained guidance from a Louisiana state court before allowing the officer’s lawsuit to move forward, and sent the case back to be reconsidered.

The decision appeared to be 7-1, with Justice Clarence Thomas the only noted dissent. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was sworn in a week ago, did not participate in the case.

If that was a miracle, then he'll only need one more to be a candidate for canonization.

My own view is that the key message from Most Americans on Tuesday was that they'd rather have Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House than Donald Trump and Mike Pence, with a very large minority disagreeing, as noted. Call it simplistic, but I have some real evidence: this is literally going to happen on 20 January, while we still won't even know at that point whether Trumpism and Wokeism are really religions or not, let alone the status of a war between them.

Via BBC.

One fifth of Most Americans thought racial inequality was the most important issue determining their vote, which sounds like a more or less Wokeist preoccupation, and slightly over half that number thought crime and safety were, which could be a sign of Trumpism, but they did not express themselves in a warlike fashion. They just voted. And while the pollsters failed to ask them whether they were in favor of racial inequality or crime, using a binary logic of good and evil, there's every reason to suppose nobody was, in fact.

Brooks finds the message in the difference between presidential vote and down-ballot races, although, it should be noted, without any actual numbers:

They told Republicans, for example, that you will be much stronger without the MAGA craziness. The Republican Party had a much better election than Trump. While Trump is losing, Republicans have picked up six House seats so far. The Democrats have yet to flip a single state legislature, meaning Republicans will draw the district lines for the next 10 years of electioneering.

The image of a possible future G.O.P. emerged — a multiracial working-class party. Republicans made surprising gains among Latinos, African-Americans and Muslims. Trump won the largest share of the nonwhite vote of any Republican candidate in 60 years. That wasn’t done by Trumpian race-baiting but because of the party’s reputation for championing personal agency and personal responsibility, and for boosting small businesses and economic growth. That can be built on.

The thing about the House races is very far from clear, per David Wasserman at the Cook Report. To the contrary, in the most startling cases, Trump seems to have had serious coattails:

The races where Republicans most vastly outperformed everyone's priors were heavily Hispanic districts that swung enormously to Trump. These include both GOP pickups in Miami (Carlos Gimenez in FL-26 and Maria Elvira Salazar in FL-27) as well as Republican Tony Gonzales's hold of Rep. Will Hurd's open TX-23. Amazingly, Republicans didn't lose a single seat in Texas.

And when you do have the numbers, the presidential breakdown and House breakdown by race/ethnicity are virtually identical, except for the Others (mostly Native Americans?) who were much more tolerant of Republican congresscritters, so Brooks's interpretation is completely nonsensical overall.

House races. Both charts from CNN.

And Trump's increased support among Latino voters had some geographical restrictions:

The President captured almost half of the group in Florida, up from 35% in 2016. Former Vice President Joe Biden earned just over half of the Latino vote in the state, compared to 62% who supported Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton four years ago.
Biden also lost support among Latino voters in Georgia and Ohio, important states to capturing the White House. The former vice president was up only about 16 percentage points in Georgia and about 24 points in Ohio, compared to Clinton's margin of 40 percentage points and 41 points in Georgia and Ohio, respectively.
However, in preliminary results from Arizona, Latino voters favored Biden by nearly 2 to 1, with Trump barely making a dent. Clinton also won the Latino vote there handily in 2016.

Where Florida, of course, has a huge Cuban and Colombian population (around 44%, ten times as many as most other states), Georgia and Ohio have very small and very diverse Latino communities, while Arizona's is overwhelmingly Mexican American, like New Mexico, California, and Texas (which preferred Biden about 60-40). I'm not going to try to do all the work here, but it's clear that where there is an established Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Dominican community, they're Democrats, and the touted gains in Republican/Trump support are among Cubans, Colombians, and Venezuelans, or in places where there really isn't a community.

As to the Black vote, sorry, this is not an emerging coalition partner:

According to AP VoteCast, Trump won 8 percent of the Black vote, about a 2 percentage-point gain on his 2016 numbers (using the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, or CCES, a national survey of more than 50,000 confirmed voters, as a point of comparison).

And he may have done even better than 2 percentage points. If you compare the CCES numbers to the results of 2020 exit polls by Edison Research, Trump actually improved by 4 percentage points.

My bold. As for Muslim American, with a record-breaking 84% turnout of a million voters, a CAIR survey found not so much there either:

The poll said 69 percent of their registered Muslim voters voted for Biden and 17 percent for President Donald Trump.

It noted that Trump received 4 percent more support of the Muslim vote, compared to the 2016 election, in which then he received a 13 percent.

Once again, Brooks's math anxiety lets him down.

As to the message to Democrats, it's perfectly symmetrical, but in a peculiar way Republicans won in spite of Trumpism, so Democrats lost because of Wokeism:

Meanwhile, voters told Democrats that they, too, would benefit if they played up policy and played down cultural concerns of their Portlandia/graduate-schooled/defund-the-police wing.

If there was ever going to be a Democratic blowout election, this was it — against an immoral candidate with a criminally incompetent record. But Democrats failed to pull it off.

But we didn't fail to pull it off. We peeled back Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania and added Arizona, Georgia, and a chunk of Nebraska! Is it possible we would have done even better (TX, FL, NC) if people who were not necessarily all Biden voters hadn't said "defund the police"? (I was against it, you'll recall.) Could be. We certainly didn't get what we wanted, which would be the Senators from Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Maine. But I don't think "playing up policy" any more than we did was the answer (it's true that the Republicans had less to say about policy than at any point in the party's history, not even offering a platform this year). I'm with Dr. B, who thinks there was too much policy and not enough partisanship (read the whole thread):

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