I enjoy the theories of economics and political policies, the evolution of our government, the pitfalls of democracy, the dynamics of government administration, and the political philosophies that underlie the function of our government. I am a political and economic geek.
Voters are not unaware of these ideas, but it seems to matter little in an election. It is about an emotional, personal, and visceral reaction.
We no longer share common sources of political information. The proliferation of media has caused us to read for confirmation rather than information. The brevity of social media rarely delivers a full balanced story. We quickly share the stories that enrage us rather than the stories that illuminate. The more outrageous the story or the claim, the more you should verify. Better yet, just ignore it.
Fox News does not compete with MSNBC for viewers; they compete with other right leaning sources. MSNBC competes with other left leaning sources. The middle is hollowed out.
The same is true of the political parties. In the primaries they lean more to their extremes and thus the elections leave a hollow middle. Part of this is the lack of control from party leaders, a result of democratic primaries. PACS have usurped the leadership of the parties.
Each party is composed of so many special interests that it is difficult for a single candidate to encompass them. The result is not just the deference to personalities, but the emphasis on which candidate you dislike the most.
Blue collar Midwest Democrats flipped for Trump, because they could not stand Hillary. Part of the reason was the surprising number of Bernie Sanders supporters who thought they got screwed, and part of this was the wave of populist rejection of the elites epitomized by Hillary Clinton. The election was not about Democrats and Republicans, but was about elites and the working class. Trump proved to be the blue-collar billionaire.
The Democrats did much better in the midterms than the Republicans and Trump want to admit because the suburban women just did not like Trump. The strong economy was not enough to overcome their visceral reaction to him. Democrats that were closer to the center did better but the closeness of far-left Democrats in the hard-red states of Texas, Georgia, and Florida should give the Republicans great cause for concern.
The Kavanaugh hearing and the tragedy in Pittsburgh likely had some influence on this election. We cannot ignore the impact of tone and rhetoric. The screaming mobs of the Democrats also motivated the right to turn out, but several anecdotal conversations I have had with moderate women voters echoed their disgust with Donald Trump.
Donald’s success in 2020 is largely dependent on who opposes him. Populism exhausts itself quickly. Rhetoric counts. Trump’s personality leaves little air in the room for policy successes.
The adage that we vote our pocketbooks only applies if the economy sucks. A candidate gets less credit for a strong economy than he gets the blame for a weak economy.