Truthdig! February 14, 2019
According to conventional wisdom, the Democrats must appeal to middle-of-the-road swing voters in order to defeat Trump in 2020. Supposedly these voters want a moderate who “crosses the partisan divide,” “finds common ground with all classes and income groups,” “removes barriers to advancement,” “builds public/private partnerships,” “works for the common good against all special interests,” “avoids the extremes of the right and the left,” and “shuns costly pie-in-the-sky programs.”
Mounting evidence suggests that the swing voter is one who faces the stark daily realities of rising inequality and all its related issues — expensive or non-existent health care, astronomical student debt, unaffordable housing, and a generation’s worth of wage stagnation. As the New York Times recently reports (“For Democrats Aiming Taxes at the Superrich, ‘the Moment Belongs to the Bold’”)
The soak-the-rich plans — ones that were only recently considered ridiculously far-fetched or political poison — have received serious and sober treatment, even by critics, and remarkably broad encouragement from the electorate. Roughly three out of four registered voters surveyed in recent polls supported higher taxes on the wealthy. Even a majority of Republicans back higher rates on those earning more than $10 million, according to a Fox News poll conducted in mid-January.
This observation is further confirmed by a fascinating chart prepared by Lee Drutman, (“Political Divisions in 2016 and Beyond“) based on survey data from 8,000 Clinton and Trump voters compiled by the Voter Survey Group. A significant split emerged around two main clusters of opinion — economic populism and identity politics. (Unlike exit polls this survey is more than 10 times larger a sample and contains many more questions, and therefore should not be dismissed as just another poll.)
The horizontal axis shows the strength of the responses based on economic populism. The further left you are on that axis, the more you worry about inequality and favor redistributive policies.
The vertical axis measures beliefs on what could be called cultural issues like gun rights, abortion, women’s equality, immigration, LGBTQ rights and attitudes towards African-Americans. The higher you are on that axis the more uncomfortable you are with these kinds of cultural issues.
Let’s call the bottom left quadrant, “Progressive Populists” who want both liberal social and economic policies. The top left are the “Culturally Conservative Populists,” who lean right on social issues and left on economic issues. The top right contains all “Arch Conservatives” who are both socially and economically conservative. And the bottom right are the media darlings — “Culturally Liberal/Fiscally Conservatives.” (For more about this quadrant see “Beware of the Moderate Democrat.”) ...
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