Friday, June 10, 2016

Thoughts on Trump/Clinton 2016

As a Trumpkin in Ireland I am following Election 2016 with unusual concentration and more than a little excitement. This excitement reflects not just my views of Trumps policies (not all of which I agree with) but also the growth I see of the phenomenon of class struggle/conflict in the US but also in Europe. I am intrigued that in this case, the US seems to be apeing Europe rather than - as had been the case since Americanisation started in 1945 - the other way around.

In some ways Trump represents another delayed outbreak of radicalism that started with the 2008 Financial Crisis and culminated in the election of Far Right and Far Left parties like Golden Dawn, Syriza, the AFD in Germany (state level), improved performance for the Fronte Nationale in France, the collapse of Irish Labour at the hands of Sinn Féin and the AAAPBP in February and the Five Star Movement in Italy (which won the Rome mayorality this month). The working-classes are disillusioned with austerity arising from the 2008 Financial Crisis and are looking for alternatives to their pain. In the Austrian Presidential Election, the exit polls showed an astonishing 90% of manual workers supported Norbert Hofer of the Far Right FPO party, who won just under 50% of the vote after postal votes were counted (and they are being litigated following irregularities).

The phenomenon is also happening in the US, Trump is attracting 65% of the votes of the White working class according to the latest Associated Press/Washington Post poll.  There was a time since at least the New Deal when this group were fertile political territory for the Democratic Party. Then came the White backlash to the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, culminating in just 10% of the White vote in the 13 former Confederate Southern states voting for Democratic Presidential candidate VP Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Jimmy Carter experienced a shortlived recovery in 1976 in the wake of Watergate, winning 49% of them in this region. Carter was the last Democrat to sweep the South. In 1992 and 1996 just 4 Southern states voted Democrat for President. The South is now the base of the Republican party.

However 2008 brought some cracks in the Southern White vote. Obama won 35% of them in North Carolina and he won the states of NC, Virginia and Florida. NC had not voted Democrat since 1976, Florida since 1996 and Virginia since 1964. However in 2012 NC was lost. 2008 was also the first time that the Democrats had won the White House without Missouri, which in the age of mass immigration is no longer as demographically representative as in the past. In 2012 an estimated 28% of the voting electorate were non-White (if Hispanic Whites are included in this category). This year it's expected to grow to 30%, including 13% each Hispanic and African-American, 4% Asian-American. In 2012 GOP candidate Mitt Romney won just 4% of African-Americans and 29% of Hispanics. This compares with 11% and 44% for George W Bush, who was moderate on immigration and appointed Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice to his Cabinet.

In the recent AP/WP poll, while Trump outperforms with the White working class (65% to 62% for Romney), he loses college-educated Whites dropping to 46% from Romney's 56%. He is also losing the womens vote by margins unseen in past elections. In most polls she leads in this group 55-35. Significantly she leads among married women - an historical Republican constituency. In todays' Fox poll Clinton leads 39-36-12 when Libertarian Gary Johnson is included.  The Greens Jill Stein will be on the ballot in 12 states and is trying to get on 24 more.

Of course as those of who can recall the controversial 2000 election in Florida know, the Presidency is not decided by direct popular vote but by the Electoral College - a state based system whereby the voters are in reality voting for whose supporters will take each states' Electoral Votes e.g. if Hillary wins Florida her supporters get the 27 Electoral College votes there. The national winner needs 270 votes to be elected. If noone gets 270 then the House of Representatives picks the president, but does so by dividing into state-delegations which makes the result  less clear as a non-candidate can be chosen. The #NeverTrump wing of the GOP led by Mitt Romney and Bill Kristol have so far failed to find a third party conservative to challenge Trump, but keeping both sides from 270 would be the purported aim of such tactics. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has dismissed the idea as a "suicide mission".

CNN reported today that to win the state of Ohio while holding onto the Romney minority vote (seen as possible with African Americans but - in the light of comments by Trump on Mexicans and immigration - unlikely with Hispanics) Trump would need to increase his share of the White vote to 58% - or 61% if the Hispanic GOP vote dropped by 5%. No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio.