Thursday, December 1, 2016

Two Point Five Million //Josh Marshall//Talking Points Memo

Image result for trump crowd cheering
white militants cheering Trump

The big picture is that American voters divide roughly in half between the get tough resentful glass half empty white party and the racially diverse glass half full Democrats.   But if Democrats are to recover from the debacle of all three branches in the hands of the GOP, and 31 of the fifty state governorships in the same hands they are going to have to find a way to turn some old reliables back to blue, or turn red states purple.  It's a difficult problem.  I am deeply convinced that racial fear and resentment of the "poor" are not going to be eradicated.  Fueling fears and resentments one looter in Ferguson costs us some indeterminable number of votes.  But that's not all: the whitest state in the country - Maine- has a Trumpian governor in this second term.  Resentment of recipients of Medicaid, welfare, etc. is that state is far less racial than elsewhere (though Gov. Paul LePage periodically goes there).

What conclusions to draw from this year's federal elections: by popular vote the Democrats won the presidency...but the electoral college which strongly favors rural voters sank them.  For a lot reasons.  Hillary's limitations and errors, ad Trump's astounding strength and success in stirring up a white backlash and a surge of support generated by his nursing of grievances.  The net result is more people voted for GOP members of Congress than for Democrats.

The GOP majorities are due to structural factors, of course.  The nine states with populations under 1 million got 18 Senators which the 37 million Californians got 2.  Democratic voters are concentrated in the cities.  e.g. only Staten Island in NYC went for Clinton.  The lowest county otherwise was Archie Bunker's home county of Queens which gave Clinton 75% of its votes.  Staten Island, of course, is a suburb in the city with a long history of resentment of Black people.

Two Point Five Million
by Josh Marshall
***Here's your semi-recurring update: Hillary Clinton's popular vote lead has now reached 2.52 million votes. In percentage terms that's a 1.9 percentage point margin. It will rise at least a bit more. We can likely be confident that her final margin will be at least 2 percentage points. To compare, that's 5 times the margin of Al Gore's popular vote win in raw vote terms and 4 times his margin in percentage terms. At this point, not only did Clinton win the popular vote. It wasn't even all that close. When George W. Bush had another bite at the electoral apple in 2004 and finally did win the popular vote it was by 2.5 percentage points. Barack Obama's margin in 2012 was 3.9 percentage points.
Presidents are determined by the electoral college. We know this. But there are many reasons why this does matter, some good, some not good at all. David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report and 538 is my favorite election numbers counter at this point. Last night on Twitter he noted that in the last four House elections, Republicans have consistently won 4% more seats than votes in the last three House elections.
2012: 49% of 2-party vote, 53% of seats 2014: 53% of vote, 57% of seats 2016: 51% of vote, 55% of seats
Needless to say, that consistency isn't happenstance. It's structural.
A significant amount of this is due to the GOP's extremely effective 2010 gerrymandering. But it's not just that and probably not mostly that. Democrats are geographically concentrated in ways that hurt them in federal elections. This is one reason it is absolutely critical for Democrats to focus on state legislatures and governorships in 2018 and 2020. Geographical concentration creates inherent problems in our system. When you add the exacerbating effect of gerrymandering you can get close to a lock in a still roughly evenly divided polity.

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