Day 1 Analysis: What else could go wrong for Trump? (We have 3 days to find out)

Screenshot 2016-07-19 11.32.58

Empty seats during Senator Joni Ernst’s speech.

A national presidential nominating convention is supposed to help the party’s candidate win the general election.

Since I started watching political conventions in 1968 (and attending at least one each campaign since 1976), there have been only two exceptions: the 1968 Democratic disaster in Chicago, and the 1972 Democratic chaos-fest in Miami.

After one day, I’m prepared to say that the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland could join this short and ignominious list.

Day One of the GOP convention did nothing to help Donald Trump appeal to undecided voters. It did nothing to reassure wavering Republicans or independents who dislike both GOP nominee-to-be Donald Trump and Democratic nominee-in-waiting Hillary Clinton.

And that was before the plagiarism thing.

From the early morning, the Trump campaign seemed to be trying its best to sabotage its stated Day One message of national security. At a breakfast meeting with reporters, its campaign chief picked an unnecessary fight with Ohio Gov. John Kasich by insulting the popular governor of a state he needs to win to have any plausible shot at an Electoral College majority. Paul Manafort’s unforced error drew a fast and furious rebuke from the Ohio Republican Party chair. Suffice it to say that Ohio Republicans will concentrate their efforts and passions on re-electing endangered incumbent Sen. Rob Portman now, rather than the presidential race.

Screenshot 2015-08-24 07.51.26

It was “Make America Safe Again” night. Do you think it was effective?

Later in the morning, in an episode I missed until it was pointed out on Twitter by ex-Bush speechwriter David Frum, Team Trump forced the GOP to tear up its platform to excise a section that might ruffle the feathers of one Vladimir Putin. Kowtowing to the Russian leader is not exactly the image of strong American leadership. Hard-core Trumpistas won’t care, but undecided voters won’t be impressed.

To further alienate Jewish voters, the Republican National Committee had to shut down a convention live chat during a speech by former Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle (who happens to be Jewish) when it was bombarded by pro-Trump, pro-Hitler, profanely anti-Jewish ranters, according to a report in the Times of Israel.

And then there was a white supremacist riff from Iowa Congressman Steve King, who belittled all contributions to global civilization from non-white, non-Christian humans. “Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?” he asked on MSNBC, setting off a hourlong tweet storm in the Twitterverse.

Before the prime-time speeches, Republicans had a Democrat-like rumble over convention rules. It reminded me a little of Chicago 1968, when Mayor Daley had the microphones turned off on anti-war, anti-Humphrey delegations. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus’ team played hardball to prevent an actual recorded  vote that would have shown the world the level of dissatisfaction with Trump among convention delegates.

You have to divide the evening session into three parts: pre-Melania, Melania and after Melania.

Pre-Melania was red-meat rhetoric for Trump Lovers and Hillary Haters. Also birthers. One speaker said Obama was certainly a Muslim. Several called for throwing Clinton in jail.   Rudy Giuliani is passionate, and he hates Hillary Clinton, but there’s nothing he said that would convince wavering voters why they should vote for Trump. Indeed, I didn’t hear a single Trump policy initiative from any speaker.

Post-Melania was a sleeping pill for America. Rising star Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa was pushed out of prime time by a rambling, never-ending speech by an obscure military guy named Flynn. Don’t think this will launch a speaking career for him. And Ernst, speaking to a mostly empty auditorium, gave her normal stump speech, evoking the parallel political worlds Republicans live in. Just watching the early lines to the exits, you can see that this is not a Republican national convention, it is the Trump national convention. Many Trump delegates don’t care about Republican rising stars. Only Trump.

Finally, Melania, the most important speaker of the night. I liked the speech. It was well-written. It was human. It was plagiarized.

The part about honesty.

Oops.

To all the Trump backers who tweeted that Melania will bring class back to the White House after eight years of Michelle Obama, all I can say is … I don’t really have anything to say.

I had forgotten that Mrs. Obama said many of the same words in a similar introduction-to-the-nation speech eight years ago. In the afternoon, Mrs. Trump boasted in an interview that she had written almost all of her speech. By the end of the evening, Team Trump released a curious statement citing a “team” of speechwriters.

As the aforementioned Hubert H. Humphrey once remarked, “To err is human. To blame someone else is politics.”

Day Two. What else could go wrong?

I will be analyzing the convention on CCTV’s World Insight program at 10:15 a.m. EDT/9:15 EDT on Tuesday. Tune in for a live discussion.


Who are the undecided voters in 2016? Mormon women, wealthy Latinos, Midwestern white women

The index logoWelcome to the third installment of The Index, a series of posts analyzing the latest polling data through the lens of 100 micro-targeted demographic groups. Today, we look at the voters who can’t make up their minds.

The presidential campaign polling has been remarkable stable over the past month — despite temporary blips — but the number of voters who are not supporting either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump remains historically high for the summer before a presidential election.

On June 5, Hillary Clinton was leading Donald Trump in Reuters Polling, 40.9 percent to 30.9 percent — a margin of 10 percentage points.

On July 5, Clinton led the presumptive Republican nominee by 40.2 percent to 30.0 percent — a margin of 10.2 percentage points.

Both candidates declined a little over the month. Trump slipped a bit more than his Democratic rival. In some ways, the minuscule decline is good news for Trump. He had a horrendous month in “free media”: Jewish stars and white supremacist message boards; a quick trip to Scotland; a vice presidential search (and rescue) mission; more praise for Saddam Hussein’s murderous efficiency; and more former Reagan and Bush (41 + 43) officials endorsing Democrat Clinton. The controversies dinged Trump temporarily, but each time he seemed to bounce back to his core support, 10 points behind Clinton’s core.

Clinton also weathered a media storm over her email server and the  final report of the Republican Benghazi committee. But the clouds over her candidacy are hindering her from pulling away from the most unpopular Republican presidential candidate since the invention of scientific polling.

Amid the two candidates’ troubles, the number of undecided voters — already higher than at comparable times in recent election cycles — continued to grow. These are the people who tell Reuters they support another candidate, favor “none of the above,” plan to stay home on Election Day, or refuse to answer the question. This “other” category ticked up from 28.2 percent to 29.8 percent — within the poll’s margin of error, but still the only number that has gone up since early June.

To get from 30 percent to 50 percent, Trump has to win about two-thirds of these up-for-grabs voters. So let’s look at our 34 “battleground” voting groups and see which of these blocs has the most undecided voters. You can decide for yourself if Trump is likely to win two-thirds of them.

Battleground groups with highest share in the “other” column:

  1. Mormon women     54%   (Clinton leads by 4 points*)
  2. Latinos earning $100,000 a year and more     39%   (Clinton leads by 41 points)
  3. Midwestern white women     39%     (Trump leads by 7)
  4. Lean conservative     38%    (Clinton leads by 4 points)
  5. Great Lakes states voters     35%   (Clinton leads by 6 points)
  6. All women     33.7% (Clinton leads by 7 points)
  7. White men under age 30     32%    (Clinton leads by 4 points)
  8. Midwestern voters     31.8%     (Clinton leads by 6.5 points)
  9. White voters under 40     31.1%     (Clinton leads by 24.9 points)
  10. Single whites (never married)     30.9%    (Clinton leads by 19)

Analysis: Mormon women can’t decide between two unpalatable choices. Trump has the support of only 10 percent of America’s wealthiest Latinos, but 39 percent still are not committed to either major-party candidate. Midwestern voters are the most volatile, with Midwestern women resisting Clinton but not fully embracing Trump. White men under 30 — the Bernie Sanders demographic — still have not moved to Clinton. But they haven’t gone to Trump, either.

Bottom line: More upside for Clinton among these voters, if she can close the deal. Trump can do very little to win many of these voters. They are there for Clinton to win or lose.

Now here are the battleground groups with lowest share in the “other” column:

  1. White Catholic men      13%     (Clinton leads by 13 points)
  2. Whites earning between $75K and $100K     18%     (Clinton leads by 18 points)
  3. Southern white men with college degree      20%      (Clinton leads by 2 points)
  4. All men      20.7%      (Clinton leads by 8.9 points)
  5. Voters earning $75K+      22.2%      (Clinton leads by 20.4 points)

Analysis: Men are more likely to have made up their minds already. And Clinton is doing surprisingly well among some unlikely blocs including Southern white men with college degrees and white Catholic men. If she were doing as well among white Catholic women as among men, she would have clinched the battleground states of the industrial heartland. Trump has lost upper-middle-class voters of all races and genders, and he’s losing college-educated voters, even in the South.

Bottom line: Most swing voters who’ve made up their minds have chosen Clinton.

While the overall “horserace” numbers haven’t changed in the past month, some of my 100 key demographic subgroups have shown movement. Here are some examples:

Screenshot 2016-07-07 22.39.00

Trump has cratered among white voters under the age of 40. But 31.1 percent of them are in the “other” category.

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While young whites despise Trump, white Baby Boomers are keeping Trump in the race with a double-digit edge over Clinton.

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Clinton has opened up a big lead among upper-middle-class whites, voters with family incomes of between $75,000 and $100,000.

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Trump has pulled ahead among divorced white people.

 

Previous posts:

>>>A look at 100 key demographic blocs, and how Trump and Clinton are faring among them

>>> The changing South, the educational chasm and Latino backlash: 10 takeaways from a deep analysis of polling data

Methodology:

The Index analyzes the 2016 presidential election through the voting preferences of 100 different demographic blocs. Thirty-three of them are part of Donald Trump’s Republican base. Thirty-three of them are part of Hillary Clinton’s Democratic base. And 34 of them are battleground groups — keys to both candidates’ paths to the White House.

The information for the feature comes from Reuters’ polling data, which is available, open source, on the internet. I am using Reuters’ rolling five-day averages for most of my analysis. I chose Reuters’ numbers because the poll is respected, but, most of all, because the global news service makes the information available to anyone. You can check behind me to examine my methodology — or to create new searches of your own.

One small asterisk (*): Certain subgroups are too small to have a statistically significant counts on the five-day average. In the cases marked with an asterisk (*), I have included data for these groups from the past 30 days of polling. One warning: Subgroups are, by definition, smaller than the entire survey, so they have a larger margin of error and more volatility from survey to survey.

 


The changing South, the educational chasm and Latino backlash: 10 takeaways from a deep analysis of polling data

The index logoEvery recent national poll agrees: Hillary Clinton is leading Donald Trump as the 2016 presidential campaign enters the sizzling summer convention season.

But, as we all know, because of America’s antiquated Electoral College, the national “horserace” numbers don’t tell us much about what’s happening at the grassroots level, where there are 50 state-by-state contests going on. That’s one of the reasons I launched “The Index” this week. Through a deep analysis of demographic subgroups, we can get a very good idea about the way the race is shaping up in certain regions (or even states) from the ground up.

There are some important findings, and some that may surprise you, about military families, empty-nesters, young white Southerners and prosperous Latinos. I identified big shifts among Latinos, northern working-class whites, and Mormons … not always in the same direction.

>>>A look at 100 key demographic blocs, and how Trump and Clinton are faring among them

Here are ten key takeaways from my analysis of the first round of data (taken from Reuters Polling’s five-day rolling average, June 20-24):

  1. Education is a key defining demographic in the 2016 election. American presidential election analysis was governed by economic determinism: the higher your income, the more likely you were to vote Republican. That’s not the case this year, when the poorest and the richest are most likely to favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. The divide isn’t one of income in 2016, it’s educational attainment — for white people, at least. College graduates favor Clinton by 32.2 points. That soars to a 45-point lead among Americans with advanced university degrees. Among whites without a degree, Trump leads by 14.3 points, while minority voters without college degrees favor Clinton by 41 points. Trump’s lead among less-educated whites is largest in the industrial Midwest, where millions of manufacturing jobs once filled by Americans without college diplomas have been lost over the past four decades.
  2. The South is changing, and the way we think about Southern politics should change. There have been far too many stories about the Republicans’ “Solid South,” which is no more solid now than the Democrats’ Dixie was in the middle of the last century. President Barack Obama won Florida and Virginia twice and North Carolina once. Because of racial, educational and generational factors, the South could become even more competitive — and very soon. Yes, Trump is strong with less-educated and older white voters, particularly southern women without college degrees (+26 points). But young white southerners are a swing voting group. White southerners with college degrees, a growing vote bloc, are nearly evenly divided, with women slightly favoring Clinton. Even with Florida’s Cuban-American’s traditional ties to the GOP, Latino voters in the Southeast are strongly Democratic in 2016 (+24 points). With the growth of the Hispanic vote in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, the trend lines in all of these states are likely to move toward Democrats unless Latinos or young voters reverse course. States with smaller minority populations (Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia) will remain out of reach for the party of Obama and Clinton. But Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina are slowly trending Democratic as a new generation replaces the Confederate flag wavers, and whites from the North migrate to the warmer climes of the Southeast.
  3. America’s industrial heartland is deeply divided by race, religion and education. As strange as it sounds, Donald Trump might have a better chance to win Pennsylvania this year than Florida. The reason is the changing demographics of the American heartland states running west from Pennsylvania to Iowa. These areas have large, traditionally Democratic Catholic populations, a higher proportion of older voters, and more whites without college degrees. All of those factors play into Trump’s current strengths. He leads among midwestern men without college degrees by 26 points, among white Catholics over the age of 40 by 12 points, and among white Catholic women by 5. Shifts among these groups put the Clinton campaign in the danger zone: She leads in the Midwest by just 4.9 points and in the Great Lakes states by 3 points, well below her national polling numbers. If current trends hold, Trump might “bet the ranch” on winning historically Democratic states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, along with Democratic-leaning swing states such as Ohio and Iowa. States with lower minority populations (Pennsylvania, Iowa and Wisconsin) may be particularly attractive to Team Trump. Clinton easily beats Trump among mainstream Protestant denominations here, but older white Catholics are a tougher sell.
  4. The Latino vote could bury Trump. I have suspected from the day Trump announced — when he called Mexicans criminals and rapists — that he was going to do worse than the 27 percent Mitt Romney received in 2012. After all of his talk of a wall on the U.S. southern border, the electoral reality is sinking in. Trump is losing every kind of Latino voter: young, old, liberal, conservative, Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, Dominican — even Cuban-American, which hasn’t ever happened before. He’s doing worst among Latinos in the Pacific region (California, Nevada), where Clinton has a 60-point edge. Say goodbye to Nevada, Donald. He’s 49 points behind among Latinos in the Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Texas) — more than twice the deficit GOP presidential candidates have faced in the past two decades. That takes New Mexico off the table for Trump and puts Arizona into play. Even in the Southeast, with a large bloc of Cuban-Americans in Florida, Trump is down by 24 points. Unless he improves his standing, that’ll make Florida all but impossible for him to win, it’ll complicate his efforts to hold the swing state of North Carolina, and it could even help put Georgia into play. How badly is Trump doing among Hispanic Americans? Latinos earning more than $100,000 per year — a swing voter bloc — now favor Clinton by 24 points. For Latinos, Trump may have done in 2016 what “America First” anti-Semites did for Jewish voters in the 1930s and Barry Goldwater did for African Americans in 1964: unite a voting bloc of disparate national origins and varying political philosophies. If this shift is lasting, it could be profound.
  5. The Generation Gap is back. There is a chasm between America’s oldest (white) voters and younger voters (of all races and ethnicities). But younger voters are far more anti-Trump than older voters are pro-Trump (or anti-Clinton). Whites over age 50 favor Trump by 5.9 points, while whites under the age of 40 favor Clinton by 1.2 points. The younger the voter, the more Democratic. White men under 30 give Clinton a 10-point edge. Among students of all races, Clinton tops Trump by 33 points. This is a problem for Trump in 2016. It is a problem for Republicans for a generation.
  6. A wide-open battle for the white middle class. Almost everyone in America claims to be a member of the “middle class.” But when you divide U.S. incomes into numerical ranges, the plurality of voters is between $50,000 and $100,000 a year. The candidate who wins most of these votes usually wins the election. Today, that candidate is Hillary Clinton, leading by 9.3 points (almost the same as her national lead). But among white voters earning $50-100K, Trump’s up by 2.7 points. The reason is his support from the lower half of the middle class, the group earning between $50K and $75K, where he leads by 5. As middle-class incomes rise, so does support for Clinton. Trump’s appeal is stronger to lower-income whites struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. So it should be no surprise that Trump does better in areas with more lower-middle-class whites and fewer minorities.
  7. The new “soccer moms”? How about “the empty-nesters”? Political reporters love to humanize swing voter blocs. The soccer moms were the rage at the turn of this century. We haven’t come up with a new one yet, but for 2016, I’ll nominate “empty-nesters.” That’s mothers who don’t have any of their kids living with them. Because all minority moms are overwhelmingly Democratic, we’ll concentrate on white empty-nest moms. They are a swing group because young moms skew Democratic like all young voters. Middle-aged and older white women tend to be a bit more Republican than the entire universe of women voters. According to the late-June Reuters polling, Clinton leads among these “empty-nesters” by 2.8 points, less than her lead among all voters but better than Barack Obama did in his successful 2012 re-election race.
  8. Democratic dissatisfaction with Clinton and Republican concerns about Trump are canceling themselves out at this point.  There have been lots of stories about conservatives angered by Donald Trump’s coarse behavior, his repeated denunciations of Bush-Cheney foreign policy, and his long-enunciated liberal beliefs on issues ranging from abortion to gay rights. There have been stories about moderate Republicans scared off by his xenophobia and racially tinged campaign rhetoric. There have been stories about Bernie Sanders supporters pledging never, ever to vote for Hillary Clinton. But the polling numbers don’t match the stories, at least at this point. Very few hard-core partisans have switched sides. Clinton leads by 68.2 points among Obama voters, and Trump leads by 67.6 points among Romney voters. Almost identical. There appears to be at least a small enthusiasm gap on the ideological extreme: Clinton leads by 59.4 points among very liberal Democrats; Trump’s lead among very conservative Republicans is “just” 45 points, with a large number parking in the undecided column.
  9. Military families are shifting toward Democrats. This is one trend story that has eluded the American political media. But it makes perfect sense. As more and more of the U.S. military is made up of women and minorities, the share of presidential votes won by Democrats is going up. Trump may have accelerated the shift by his unproven allegations that U.S. troops in Iraq had pocketed stolen loot after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Trump hasn’t helped with his repeated assertion that the U.S. military has been incompetent under Presidents Bush and Obama. The Reuters polling shows that active duty military personnel favor Clinton by 9.4 points, and the families of active duty military and veterans lean to Clinton by  9.6 percent. Trump still leads among veterans, a predominantly white group, by 5.7 percent.
  10. Trump indeed has a Mormon problem. Trump’s ongoing war of words with Romney, a leading Mormon politician, and his demonization of a religion (Islam) clearly contribute to his troubles with one of the most Republican voting blocs in the country. Romney beat Obama among Mormons by some 50 points. Trump’s lead, according to a month of Reuters numbers, is 13 points — and just 8 among Mormon women. This is unlikely to cause Trump to lose heavily Mormon (and very heavily Republican) Utah, but it could prove costly in nearby states with significant Mormon presences like Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.

These polling numbers reflect a snapshot in time, and they could change (again and again) between now and Election Day, November 8. But this kind of data analysis can help us understand what often is oversimplified in the “who’s up, who’s down” world of daily political coverage.

This analysis is part of a series that will continue through the election season.

Click here to see the data for all 100 blocs and demographic subgroups.

 


A look at 100 key demographic blocs, and how Trump and Clinton are faring among them

Polls, polls, polls. Every day, it seems there is a new poll. She’s up. She’s down. He’s up. He’s really down.

What does it mean?

To many media outlets, polls are cheap click bait to drive web traffic. To cable news networks, they are the score in the latest inning of an endless political baseball game. There are some smart polling analysts, but most stories about polls are politically shallow and journalistically useless.The index logo

As a political reporter who has covered every presidential race since 1980, I hope I can offer you a respite from pedestrian polling analysis. Welcome to “The Index,” a new analytical feature that will run periodically through Election Day 2016. I hope I can bring you something new, different and interesting.

Here’s my angle: I will analyze the 2016 presidential election through the voting preferences of 100 different demographic blocs. Thirty-three of them are part of Donald Trump’s Republican base. Thirty-three of them are part of Hillary Clinton’s Democratic base. And 34 of them are battleground groups — keys to both candidates’ paths to the White House.

A few of the groups are the basic demographic groups you are accustomed to hearing about: Republicans and Democrats, very liberal and very conservative voters, African Americans and born-again whites. I included these as tests of the loyalty of core voting groups for each party.

But I’m also looking at some groups you don’t read much about, the kinds of groups that will tip you off about the way the election is going. Among them: Latinos making more than $100,000 a year, white men under age 30, families with active duty military or veterans, white southerners with college degrees, homeowners, moms with kids at home, Midwestern white men, white Catholic women, even Mormon women.

I’ll analyze the different support levels of Latino voters in the Southeastern United States (where Cubans have some influence in Florida), the Southwest (from Texas to Arizona), and the Pacific coast. Differing levels of support in each region could be a tipoff as to whether states like Arizona or Georgia are in play, or whether Trump has any chance in Florida or New Mexico.

In each update, I will describe which candidate is leading among each group, and you can easily see how much better or worse than the national norm that is. The reason is simple: As the “horserace” changes from week to week, a key is whether a certain voting bloc is skewing more heavily toward Clinton or Trump. Clinton currently leads every recent national poll, but if the race ends up close, that variation from the norm will be important.

The information for the feature comes from Reuters’ polling data, which is available, open source, on the internet. I am using Reuters’ rolling five-day averages for most of my analysis. I chose Reuters’ numbers because the poll is respected, but, most of all, because the global news service makes the information available to anyone. You can check behind me to examine my methodology — or to create new searches of your own.

One small asterisk (*): Certain subgroups are too small to have a statistically significant counts on the five-day average. In the cases marked with an asterisk (*), I have included data for these groups from the past 30 days of polling. One warning: Subgroups are, by definition, smaller than the entire survey, so they have a larger margin of error and more volatility from survey to survey.

With no further introduction, here is the first set of data:

Overall (6/20-24)

Clinton 40.3%, Trump 31.3%

Clinton +9

Note: (C) means that Clinton leads by more than the 9 point national difference. (T) means that her lead with the group is less than her national lead.

Battleground groups

  • Latinos earning >$100K    Clinton +24* (C)
  • White Catholic men    Clinton +11 (C)
  • Great Plains states   Clinton+11 (C)
  • Voters earning $75K+    Clinton +11.1 (C)
  • White men under 30    Clinton +10 (C)
  • Men    Clinton +9.7 (C)
  • Families with active duty military or veteran    Clinton +9.6* (C)
  • Active duty military    Clinton +9.4* (C)
  • Voters earning between $50K-100K    Clinton +9.3 (C)
  • Midwestern white men    Clinton +9
  • Women    Clinton +8.7 (T)
  • Whites earning >$150K    Clinton +8 (T)
  • Unmarried white women    Clinton +7.9 (T)
  • White single, never married    Clinton +6 (T)
  • White divorced    Clinton +6 (T)
  • Whites earning between $50-75K    Clinton +5 (T)
  • Midwest    Clinton +4.9 (T)
  • Great Lakes    Clinton +3 (T)
  • White Catholic    Clinton +3 (T)
  • White women, no children at home    Clinton +2.8 (T)
  • Whites earning between $50-$100K     Clinton  2.7 (T)
  • Whites under age 40    Clinton +1.2 (T)
  • Homeowners    Clinton +1.9 (T)
  • Whites earning between $75K-$100K    Clinton +1 (T)
  • White southern women with college degree    Clinton +0.4* (T)
  • Independent     Tie (T)
  • Married voters     Trump +1 (T)
  • White southerners with college degree     Trump +2.1* (T)
  • Southern white men with college degree     Trump +3.9* (T)
  • Whites 50-65    Trump +4 (T)
  • Lean conservative     Trump +4 (T)
  • Midwestern white women     Trump +5 (T)
  • White Catholic women     Trump +5 (T)
  • Mormon women     Trump +8* (T)

Trump base

  • Voted for Romney     Trump +67.6 (T)
  • Republicans     Trump  +52.4 (T)
  • Very conservative voters     Trump +45 (T)
  • Moderately conservative whites     Trump +35 (T)
  • White born-again men     Trump +35 (T)
  • Southern white men     Trump +33 (T)
  • White born-again voters     Trump +32.7 (T)
  • White Tea Partiers     Trump +30.5 (T)
  • White born-again women     Trump +30 (T)
  • Whites who attend church at least once a week     Trump +26 (T)
  • Southern white women without college degree     Trump +26 (T)
  • Midwestern men without college degree     Trump +26 (T)
  • White women, children at home     Trump +17 (T)
  • Southern white men without college degree     Trump +15 (T)
  • White non-college grads     Trump +14.3 (T)
  • Southern white women     Trump +13 (T)
  • Whites 65+     Trump +13 (T)
  • Mormons     Trump +13* (T)
  • White independents who voted for Romney     Trump +13 (T)
  • White Catholic over 40     Trump +12 (T)
  • White married voters     Trump +10.6 (T)
  • Whites $100K-$150K     Trump +9 (T)
  • Southeast     Trump +8.6 (T)
  • South     Trump +8.2 (T)
  • Southwest     Trump +7 (T)
  • Whites 50+     Trump +6.9 (T)
  • White voters     Trump +6.4 (T)
  • Veterans     Trump +5.7* (T)
  • White, children at home     Trump +5.2 (T)
  • White non-college grads earning <$50K     Trump +5 (T)
  • White voters earning less than $50K     Trump +2.8 (T)
  • Non-college grads     Trump +0.1 (T)
  • Rocky Mountain West    Clinton +4 (T)

Clinton base

  • African Americans who attend church at least once a week    Clinton +71.6 (C)
  • African Americans    Clinton +70.6 (C)
  • Voted for Obama    Clinton +68.2 (C)
  • Latino voters in West    Clinton +60* (C)
  • Very liberal voters    Clinton +59.4 (C)
  • Democrats   Clinton +50.1 (C)
  • Latino voters in Southwest    Clinton +49* (C)
  • Asian American voters    Clinton +45 (C)
  • Voters with advanced degrees    Clinton +45 (C)
  • Minority voters without college degrees    Clinton +41 (C)
  • White Catholic under 40    Clinton +35 (C)
  • Students    Clinton +33 (C)
  • Voters with college degrees    Clinton +32.2 (C)
  • College graduates    Clinton +32.2 (C)
  • Latina voters    Clinton +29.8* (C)
  • LGBT voters    Clinton +27 (C)
  • Latino voters in Southeast    Clinton +24* (C)
  • Latino voters nationally    Clinton +24* (C)
  • Unmarried women    Clinton +22.6 (C)
  • White voters with college degree    Clinton +21.1 (C)
  • White men with college degree    Clinton +21 (C)
  • White women with college degree    Clinton +20 (C)
  • Voters who never attend religious services    Clinton +19.3 (C)
  • White students    Clinton +19.5 (C)
  • Southerners with college degree    Clinton +19 (C)
  • Latino men    Clinton +18* (C)
  • Voters under 40    Clinton +16.4 (C)
  • Far West Clinton Clinton    Clinton +16 (C)
  • Mid-Atlantic    Clinton +15 (C)
  • Voters who attend religious services once a month or less    Clinton +15 (C)
  • New England    Clinton +14 (C)
  • Voters under 30    Clinton +13.9 (C)
  • Women with no children at home    Clinton +10.9 (C)

In the next few days, I will post some of the analytical highlights of this first data dump, explaining which subgroups’ results I think are the most important and surprising. I look forward to sharing the 2016 political roller coaster with you.

 

 


Explaining America to the world: I analyze Trump’s populist revolt for a Finnish audience

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When I moved to Beijing in 2013 to explain global best practices in journalism to a diverse group of Global Business Journalism Program students, I had not expected that I also would frequently be asked to explain American politics and democracy to a global audience. I’ve been interviewed regularly in Chinese media, but also in European news outlets from Finland to Slovakia (plus the good old USA).

This week, I discussed the rise of Donald Trump with my friend Matti Posio, who heads up the national news operation for a group of Finnish newspapers, Lannen Media. Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Q: You have met Donald Trump in person. Tell me about it.

I am one of thousands of people who has met Donald Trump at black-tie social events. For me, it was the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in Washington several years ago. He was cordial and polite, very different than his public persona. He was clearly a celebrity among celebrities. Reporters were coming up to him an asking if they could pose for photos with him. He was patient, unlike the hot-tempered character on the campaign trail. Nobody I talked to thought he would ever run for president. I really didn’t do more than exchange small talk. He seems comfortable with social conversation and, obviously, he has been going to formal events for a half-century. From my very short glimpse into his life, I would say that he is a very good actor playing certain roles that are expected of him at different times.

Q: I don’t see how anyone can actually be like that. Is his personality the same in real life than portrayed on media?

How many of us get to see him in “real life”? Real life is his life in his big mansion in Florida. Real life is his family. I can imagine Orson Welles playing the role.

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Cruz + Trump = Volatile mix

Q: What is it that foreigners / Europeans really don’t get about Trump?

Do you mean, “Why is he getting so many votes? Why would anyone vote for him for president?” Politically, he is the right man at a very strange time in American political history. After two decades of anti-elitist rhetoric on right-wing talk radio and the Rupert Murdoch-owned conservative cable news network Fox, there is a large minority of the country that believes their way of life has been taken from away from them by the faceless “them” — minorities, immigrants, big companies shipping jobs overseas, corrupt speculators, too-big-to-fail banks, gays and lesbians, working women, feminists, or Big Government giving their tax dollars to undeserving others, Donald Trump is a reality TV performer and is playing to that audience. He is playing the role of populist demagogue, race-baiter, keeper of the working-class flame, proud leader of the “poorly educated,” ranter against the system and the elites and Wall Street and Big Business. So what if he is a son of privilege, a highly educated billionaire and someone who has played the system for years to make deals and make money.

Q: What are the main reasons he has become so popular?

He strikes a responsive chord with less-educated, lower-income white voters across the political spectrum. He is winning among moderate Republicans, conservative Republicans and Evangelical Christians.. He is even getting a modest share of higher-educated, higher-income voters. He is bringing new voters into the system, economically struggling people who thought they had no voice until Donald Trump appeared. While Trump moved relentlessly forward in a media frenzy, his opponents spent months destroying each other rather than going after him. His opponents sound like traditional politicians — which they are — at a time American voters yearn for the myth of “authenticity.” Trump is acting the role of “truth-sayer” supremely well, even if the fact-checking web sites say he is lying much of the time.

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Talking multimedia innovation at Lannen Media’s Helsinki offices last March

Q: He is behind both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for the real election. Could he still win?

When it is a one-on-one race, anything could happen. If there are independent candidates dividing the non-Trump vote, anything could happen. There has never been an election like this. Bill Clinton says he expects a close general election. Pundits, who have been wrong all year, are predicting a Trump defeat that costs Republicans control of the U.S. Senate. I’ve been predicting that the public will eventually tire of Trump and “cancel” his election-year reality TV show. But I’ve been wrong for months, along with my fellow political reporters and pundits. So, to repeat an American political cliche, never say never.

Q What would happen if he really became the president? How much would he change?

In recent days, his primary opponent rival Ted Cruz has claimed that Trump told the New York Times editorial board privately that he would act very differently as president than he has during the campaign, as least as far as immigration is concerned. None of us know. As a reporter, I’ve always said that the best way to judge what a politician will do after getting elected to office is to study what he or she promises during the campaign. We can’t read his mind. If he does everything he’s promising to do on the campaign trail, there will be a constitutional crisis and a global economic and diplomatic catastrophe. You’ll have the Putin-Trump axis versus the world. I can’t see it. He would have to change or he would be ineffective domestically and isolated internationally.

Q: Let’s assume he doesn’t become the president. Has he already achieved something, left a lasting mark in the country and its politics? What is it?

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Dismantling the Reagan coalition

Yes, he has achieved something of historical significance. He has destroyed Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party. If he wins the nomination, the party of Reagan will have ceased to exist. It is the same thing that happened to the Democrats in 1972, when George McGovern won the presidential nomination and destroyed the four-decade-old New Deal coalition of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Although Democrats won the White House four years later because of Nixon’s Watergate scandal, it took them two decades to recover institutionally from the crack-up of 1972.

Q: You are currently a professor in China. What is told about Trump there? How much of it is true?

Trump has been portrayed in Chinese media as an eccentric, bombastic showman and celebrity. He’s seen more as a curiosity than a threat, so far, at least. Most people who are savvy about the United States ask me, “Could Trump be elected? Why would Americans vote for Trump?” It’s similar to questions people would ask you in Europe. The coverage of him on Chinese state television is generally straightforward, so far, at least. There has been a bit of negative editorial commentary in traditional state print media, but nothing nearly as inflammatory as what Trump has said about China. And Japan. And Korea. And Mexico. And Iran. And Europe. And Obama.

Q: Would you consider moving to China all together, should Trump be elected?

How about Finland?

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Taping an interview at YLE, the Finnish radio network


What would Reagan do? Here’s what he said about immigration, walls and open borders

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Reagan signed into law the bipartisan Simpson-Mazzoli Law that granted amnesty to millions of people living illegally in the United States.

Ronald Reagan was all about tearing down walls, as in Berlin.

But he also was against building them, as in Mexico.

With all of the heated political rhetoric about Mexico today, it’s a good time to revisit what presidential candidates Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush said about immigration as they debated each other during the 1980 campaign.

“Rather than talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual concerns?” Reagan asked.

Bush tried to be even more pro-immigrant, noting at one point, “Part of my family is a Mexican.”

Listen for yourself. And ask yourself, “Would Ronald Reagan be welcome in today’s Trump-guided Republican Party?”


Flashback: My 2013 profile of Ted Cruz, when he was first being compared to Ronald Reagan and Joe McCarthy

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Presidential campaign bumper sticker: His supporters think Ted Cruz is always right

Thanks to the wonders of social media, Ted Cruz supporters and detractors are still circulating a profile I wrote of him that appeared on Texas on the Potomac on Feb. 21, 2013, six wild weeks into his Senate tenure. I’m glad to say it still holds up today. The most interesting quote in it may come from then-Attorney General Greg Abbott of Texas, when he discusses the futures of Cruz and freshman Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Here’s the story:

Ted Cruz’s blazing start in the U.S. Senate has proven to be the political equivalent of a Rorschach test.

Cruz is a political Rorschach Test. Everybody sees the same thing — and everybody sees something different.

Cruz’s fans, and there are many, compare him to Ronald Reagan, who happens to be the 42-year-old senator’s boyhood hero. Cruz’s detractors, and there are many, compare him to Joe McCarthy, the controversial Wisconsin senator known for smearing his foes by innuendo and questioning their patriotism. And there are not many in between.

“It’s going to be in the eye of the beholder,” said Timothy M. Hagle, a political scientist at the University of Iowa.

To Cruz, the first Latino senator in Texas history, the swirling controversies of the past two months stem from his credo to “speak the truth,” whatever the consequences.

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Official family portrait

The Houston Republican’s first legislative proposal, as promised during his campaign, was a complete repeal of the 2010 health-care law widely known as Obamacare. He was the only senator on the losing side of every key vote in his first month in office. He was one of only three senators to oppose the confirmation of Secretary of State John Kerry, and was one of just 22 to vote against the Violence Against Women Act.

But it’s Cruz’s hard-charging style — and not just his hard-line conservatism — that has attracted national attention.

Texas’ junior senator made a name for himself on Capitol Hill with his hostile grilling of Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense. Showing no deference to his elders, the newcomer also had a tense encounter with Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer on a usually sedate Sunday talk show.

Liberal New York Times columnist Frank Bruni dismissed him as “an ornery, swaggering piece of work” full of “too much quackery, belligerence and misplaced moralism.” NBC Latino commentator Raul Reyes declared that “Cruz knows no shame” and “it’s time the GOP presses the Cruz-control button.”

At the same time, Cruz has been welcomed as a conquering hero by the grassroots conservatives who fueled his upset victory over establishment Republican favorite David Dewhurst in the 2012 Republican runoff contest. The new senator was picked to deliver the closing address at next month’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, the nation’s largest annual gathering of right-thinking activists.

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Conquering hero or dangerous demagogue? (Texas Tribune photo)

“Ted Cruz has not sacrificed his values and beliefs on the altar of political correctness or to become part of the Washington, D.C., circuit,” said Harris County Republican Party chair Jared Woodfill. “Like Ronald Reagan, he can take our conservative values and beliefs and articulate them for the world. He has made a huge mark at the national level in just a few months.”

Republican strategists are particularly pleased that Cruz brings a fresh face — as well as much-needed diversity — to the GOP message machine.

“He’s not a grumpy old white guy like so many of our spokesmen have been,” said Fergus Cullen, a communications consultant and former New Hampshire Republican Party chair. “He comes from the policy/ideas/intellectual wing of the conservative movement, like (2012 vice presidential nominee) Paul Ryan, and we need more of them.”

While assessments of Cruz’s job performance vary widely, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: The former Texas solicitor general is willfully ignoring the age-old adage that in the Senate, freshman are seen but not heard.

“Sen. Ted Cruz came to Washington to advance conservative policies, not play by the same old rules that have relegated conservatives — and their ideas — to the backbench,” said Michael A. Needham, CEO of Heritage Action, the political committee of the conservative Heritage Foundation. “It should come as absolutely no surprise the Washington establishment — be it the liberal media, entrenched special interests or even wayward Republicans — is now attacking him in the press for following through on his promises.”

Some Republicans say that Cruz — as well as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — are being targeted for tough criticism from the left because of his Hispanic heritage.

“Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are an existential threat to the liberal status quo,” said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Cruz’s boss for more than five years. “For a long time, liberals assumed that if you were Hispanic and went to Harvard, you’d be a Democrat, not a conservative Republican. Not only that, he embodies the conservative principles that exist in a majority of the Hispanic community.”

Cruz, a champion debater in college and a former law clerk to Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, is undaunted by the criticism.

“Washington has a long tradition of trying to hurl insults to silence those who they don’t like what they’re saying,” Cruz said Tuesday as he toured the LaRue Tactical gun-manufacturing plant near Austin. “I have to admit I find it amusing that those in Washington are puzzled when someone actually does what they said they would do.”

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Critics speak: Another McCarthy?

Democrats, however, are decidedly not amused by his introduction to the national stage.

“He’s part of this right-wing, extreme group in the Republican Party,” said Gilbert Hinojosa, the Texas Democratic Party chairman. “He was elected to do the business of all the people of Texas, not just the business of a small group of Tea Party right-wingers. He makes (conservative former Sen.) Phil Gramm look like a progressive.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer, a liberal from California, went so far as to summon the ghost of Joe McCarthy during a discussion of Cruz on the Senate floor. MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews added former Louisiana Gov. Huey Long and Charles E. Coughlin, anti-Semitic radio broadcaster and fiery New Deal critic.

“He’s a potent combination of intellect and demagoguery that really has the potential to light a fire under the freshman Republicans to burn the place down,” said Jim Manley, a long-time Senate staffer who worked for Sen. Ted Kennedy and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “But if you go down that path, you end up as nothing but roadkill in the Senate. If he continues down this path, his base may feel good about it, but he may just become isolated and irrelevant.”

A few Republicans have privately counseled Cruz to tone down his approach. One GOP colleague, Sen. John McCain, went so far as to rebuke him publicly after the Texas senator asked Hagel whether the former Nebraska senator had received payments from Saudi Arabia or North Korea.

“Sen. Hagel is an honorable man who served his country and no one on this committee at any time should impugn his character of his integrity,” McCain said as Cruz sat quietly by.

The two men shared another uncomfortable moment at the State of the Union speech, when McCain responded to Obama’s praise for bipartisan immigration reform with a quick jig while Cruz, two seats away, sat frowning.

Conservative activists are thrilled that Cruz has roiled both Democrats and old-line Republicans.

“We are encouraged that he is standing up to the establishment as a U.S. senator,” said David N. Bossie, president of the conservative group Citizens United. “Fighting the tough fights for conservative principles is why Ted Cruz was elected to the U.S. Senate.”

L. Brent Bozell III, chairman of the conservative group ForAmerica, blamed fellow Republicans for undercutting Cruz.

“The GOP establishment is at it again,” he said. ‘After capitulating to President Obama in negotiations over the fiscal cliff and promising to kneecap conservatives in the 2014 primaries, these moderates are attacking Sen. Ted Cruz for sticking to his conservative principles.”

Cruz’s brand of uncompromising conservatism gives Texas two of the most conservative members of the Senate. New ratings released Wednesday by National Journal indicated that the Lone Star State’s senior senator, John Cornyn of San Antonio, was the Senate’s second most conservative member in 2012.

Cornyn says he looks forward to “working closely” with Cruz “as we fight for a conservative agenda.”

“Ted has quickly proven himself to be among the next generation of leaders of Texas and the Republican Party,” Cornyn said.

It may be a bit early to declare Cruz a leader, but there’s little doubt Cruz is having an impact disproportionate to his seven-week Senate tenure. An editor of the conservative website The Daily Caller recently likened Cruz’s ability to shape the debate over Hagel to the liberal grassroots group MoveOn.org’s impact at the height of the Iraq War.

He’s certainly the most visible freshman senator, appearing on more national TV programs than any of his first-year colleagues, including the much-hyped liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and conservative Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina, the first African American senator from the Deep South since Reconstruction.

With the hype, of course, come the jibes.

“Washington is a rough-and-tumble place, and I certainly don’t mind if some will take shots at me,” Cruz said. “What I do think is unfortunate is if the coverage of the political game overshadows the substance.”

“Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are an existential threat to the liberal status quo.”

— Greg Abbott