Trump voters are (mostly) Romney voters

by John Quiggin on November 6, 2016

At CT and just about everywhere else, there’s been lots of discussion about who is voting for Trump and why. This began during the Republican primaries, when it made sense to ask “what kind of Republican would prefer Trump to Bush, Cruz etc?”.

This kind of discussion continued through the general election, even though the answer is now staring us in the face. Trump is getting overwhelming support from self-described Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, and almost none from Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents. The same was true for Romney four years ago, and for McCain and Bush before him.

This is well known, but few people seem to have drawn the obvious conclusion*. With marginal changes (I’ll discuss these below), the people who are voting for Trump now voted for Romney four years ago, and for Bush before that.

This makes nonsense of much of the discussion of Trump voters as the dispossessed, protesting against globalisation, predatory capitalism and the destruction of American manufacturing. Conversely, it turns out that the discussion of Romney’s “dog whistle” appeals to racism was misconceived. Replacing the dog whistle with a bullhorn has turned out to be no problem for the great majority of those who voted for Romney.

What matters to Romney/Trump voters is what Romney and Trump have in common. Trivially, they have both been nominated by the Republican party and their supporters are Republican partisans. But that’s a bit like saying that opium makes you sleepy because of its dormitive quality. People are Republican partisans because they agree with the core elements of the Republican position: white Christianist identity politics, opposition to (non-white) immigration, and anti-poor, anti-union economic and social policies. What Trump has done is to show that some things previously thought to be core Republican commitments (free trade, for example) are actually peripheral.

Of course, the overlap is not 100 per cent. The (small) group of Republicans who aren’t voting for Trump is different from the (also small) group who didn’t vote for Romney: the never-Trumpers are mostly women and college graduates, while the anti-Romney Repubs presumably included some stereotypical Trump voters (with the qualification that they identified as Republicans well before Trump came along).

In addition, it’s necessary to take account of demographic changes, newly registered voters, differences in turnout and switches in party affiliation. Demographic changes have mostly favored the Democrats. Trump has claimed to be driving new registrations, but I’ve seem no evidence of this. Republicans have had a net benefit from switchers, but that’s mostly a continuation/completion of the long migration of Southern white nationlists away from the Democratic party.

Overall, though, the problem is simple. If you want to explain Trump’s support base, you need to start from the fact that he shares it with Romney and Bush.

  • Corey here at CT and elsewhere has probably been the most consistent exponent of the view that Trump is a traditional Republican, in the line of Goldwater and Reagan. I broadly agree, though I’d put more stress on new developments over the past 20 years or so. Trump’s complete disregard for truth, norms of decency and so on, is an extrapolation of a process that’s been going on for quite a while, at the popular level with Fox News, birtherism and so on and in the Republican intellectual apparatus with climate denial, zombie economics and attacks on “political correctness”.

{ 87 comments }

1

Brett 11.06.16 at 4:45 am

That was the joke in the Republican primary race. For all of Trump’s bluster and outrageousness, his actual policies really weren’t much different than any other hard-line Republican candidate’s would have been, and he was drawing from the same set of supporters.

It’s just the way it is now in American politics. True independents are mostly a myth, so folks tend to consistently vote with one party or the other and turnout is king.

2

JPL 11.06.16 at 6:14 am

Instead of “extrapolation”, I would perhaps say that the Trump campaign is the reductio ad absurdum of (traditional and recent) Republican political appeal and political discourse. Trump the public figure or “persona” provides the object of emotional attachment, sort of like a cult leader, while the content of what is said is arbitrary and devoid of meaning. However, as you say, the reasons the supporters have for voting Republican are the same as ever.

3

marku52 11.06.16 at 6:48 am

Trump has consistently made anti-free trade and anti-NATO comments. And those comments were well received. That is new, and very anti-Romney.

The old trope that “We can’t fix your bridges and water systems, we spent all our money on policing the globe” isn’t selling very well. And the next politician to propose that another free trade pact will produce “American jobs” will be laughed off the stage. That is new as well.

4

Tabasco 11.06.16 at 6:55 am

Trump will get the votes of Republicans because he is the Republican candidate. There is nothing remarkable about this. The same would have been true of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, or Krusty the Clown.

This election has been different, though, in that Trump’s visible supporters at his rallies and social media have been largely a bunch of fascists and crazies, who he has stirred up with his demagoguery. Partly this because Clinton is such a hated figure on the Right. (It’s hard to imagine Sanders attracting this kind of visceral hate.) But mostly because Trump is a demagog who has cast aside all norms of civilised campaigning.

Clinton will win. But, sooner or later the voters will tire of a Democratic White House and
elect a less sleazy version of Trump.

5

Lord 11.06.16 at 7:12 am

Just remember close to half of voters support Trump, we will just see how close.

6

Raven Onthill 11.06.16 at 7:36 am

Goldwater and Reagan were rapey fascists? Really?

The personality counts, not just the policies. Marx perhaps swung the focus of philosophical debate on history towards systems rather than individuals. This was surely a welcome correction from monarchism. But perhaps it is time to swing back, and ask ourselves what sort of individuals we want to focus power in, how that power is to be granted or taken away, and what sort of relations we may have with them. It takes no subtlety to know that a Hitler, a Stalin, or a Trump (the last, I suppose, repeating history as farce) ought be let nowhere near the levers of power. Yet we seem unable to keep them away from power, or conversely to reliably choose leaders who we might reasonably vest power in.

7

nastywoman 11.06.16 at 8:35 am

The voters of a US Republican candidate always will be ‘mostly’ Republicans and thus ‘Romney voters’ – but wasn’t it remarkable, that in this election there were some of the most traditional US Republicans and conservatives who came up with the idea of ‘Never Trump’?
And furthermore – that the historical constituency of the left – unions and workers went in such numbers for a Racist Fascist Birther?

And as American Pundits have this tradition to name after every election the decisive group of voters – who will it be this time?

Americas Latinos – or not enough ‘Romney voters’ who voted for Trump?

8

nastywoman 11.06.16 at 8:54 am

– and if Romney – this time isn’t voting for Trump – we might have to consider – that Trumps voters are NOT ‘Romney voters’ – or just the Romney voters of the Romney of 2012?

9

Ronan(rf) 11.06.16 at 10:34 am

But the argument (afaict) always acknowledged that party ID would be the most important factor deciding voting, the question was what led republicans to turn away from the establishment candidates and towards trump. Noting that trump voters overwhelmingly voted republican in the past doesn’t negate those arguments. (If you(not you personally) don’t think trump is a huge abberation from republican party norms, then you don’t really have to account for his candidacy beyond party ID. If you think he is, then that is where the racism/nativism and/or political economy arguments come in)

10

kidneystones 11.06.16 at 10:45 am

@1 “For all of Trump’s bluster and outrageousness, his actual policies really weren’t much different than any other hard-line Republican candidate’s would have been”

How many hard-line Republicans you can name campaigned and won the Republican presidential nomination by promising Republican primary voters, among other things, that he would not touch Social Security?

But that’s not why I stopped by. Among those who might traditionally vote Republican but won’t be this cycle.

https://news.vice.com/article/the-1-want-president-hillary-clinton

And then there are the responsible Republicans like David Brooks explaining how the Democratic candidate could easily have run as the ‘change’ candidate promoting ‘globalization’ which has been ‘good for America’ even it has displaced high-school educated white males.

Because for Republicans like Brooks “people are just going with their gene pool.”

11

ozajh 11.06.16 at 11:24 am

What Trump has done is to show that some things previously thought to be core Republican commitments (free trade, for example) are actually peripheral.

What Trump has ALSO done is to show that some things previously thought to be core Evangelical Christian commitments (The Ten Commandments, for example) are actually peripheral.

In fact more than one commentator has already noted that the one hyper-religious group to move massively away from the Republicans this time around is the Mormons, and they don’t collectively think this is simply due to there being a Mormon candidate in 2012 and not now. There appear to be two main theories. The first is that many Mormons truly do vote with their moral code in mind (and if this is so, then they have my full respect regardless of my views of their faith). The second is that they are repulsed by Trump’s denigration of so many “other” groups, since they have long memories of having been persecuted themselves.

12

t. gracchus 11.06.16 at 11:33 am

I think you underestimate team identification.

13

Daragh 11.06.16 at 12:55 pm

Excellent post. There was quite a bit of shareage on Twitter last night of Bill Maher’s ‘mea culpa’ claim that liberals were crying wolf when they attacked Bush, McCain and Romney as awful. Nonsense. It’s not a long leap from Bush’s spinning up of the ‘voter fraud’ fraud to the GOP uniformly refusing to allow Democrats to govern in office, to Trump calling the election ‘rigged’ and urging armed white nationalists to go monitor the polls. What worries me most about the aftermath of this election (aside from the real possibility of violence) is that the kumbaya narrative, in which we all come together and forget this unpleasantness ever happened, will win out. The Republicans created the conditions for Trump and they need to be held accountable for him.

14

nastywoman 11.06.16 at 1:00 pm

And the idea that Trump is ‘a traditional Republican, in the line of Goldwater and Reagan’ was once brought up on a table at the Club where traditional Republicans in the line of Reagan meet and while some of the members were laughing – a over ninety year old ‘traditional Republican’ who once had financed Reagan – got so upset that he nearly had a heart attack – and had to be calmed down by some younger – not so traditional Republicans – who were willing to vote for F…face von Clownstick in order – if he ever would try to join their Club – happily blackballing him just the way they once blackballed Frank Sinatra.

15

Marc 11.06.16 at 1:17 pm

I agree with you completely John, but draw quite different conclusions. In the limit where partisanship is extremely strong, people will do almost anything to avoid voting for the other team. This means rationalizing away things that they don’t like and (reluctantly) supporting politicians that they don’t like. Trump has unusually low approval ratings among Republicans.

And Clinton is deeply hated by Republicans and has been for decades. In recent polling more than half of Trump voters are voting against Clinton, not for Trump.
The only equivalent that I can think of would be to imagine that Dick Cheney was the Republican candidate and that the Democrat was, somehow, worse. How many Democrats would vote for Cheney?

Now, of course, there is a white nationalist block in the Republican party. But they don’t have to be a majority of the party to win primaries; less ideologically motivated people don’t vote in primaries. This is important because I think that liberals are completely misreading what is going to happen after Trump loses. The Republicans will make a big show of rejecting extremist KKK-like elements, maybe nominate someone like Nikki Halley, and they can put on a happy face without really changing their policies much. This is dangerous, and assuming that they’ll be running Trump-like campaigns after Trump fails is hubris.

16

Igor Belanov 11.06.16 at 1:21 pm

@ ozajh

“What Trump has ALSO done is to show that some things previously thought to be core Evangelical Christian commitments (The Ten Commandments, for example) are actually peripheral.”

Yes, this is a key point. I think the current surge of the right in the US and Europe is due to an alliance between the old and what might be called the ‘new-new right’. In the EU referendum over here the leave vote was generally split between old fashioned conservatives (with a small and a big c) and what I might call ‘nihilist nationalists’.

The former are staunch traditionalists, believing in the monarchy, the memory of the empire, capital and corporal punishment, grammar schools, ‘discipline’ and religious-style morality. The second group (and Trump and his supporters fit in here) espouse nationalism of the most abstract kind, with no positive content and mainly as a means of marginalising groups they regard as their enemies. Their core political philosophy is no more than to be free from social constraint, and they want to be able to say what they want about anyone, behave in an egotistical fashion without being judged, they despise smoking bans and speed cameras, dislike taxation and abhor ‘do-gooders’ who attempt to make them feel guilty. As such, the revelations about Trump (or Berlusconi, Boris Johnson etc) actually make them more attractive to these people, as they people that the ability of the powerful to behave in an anti-social way will ‘trickle-down’ to them.

Given the inherent incompatibility of these two right-wing positions, I think the only thing that really holds them together is the identification of certain common enemies among liberals and the left. Thus the emergence of people like Trump and Farage, who constantly crank-up their denunciation of target groups and institutions. In the UK, now that the referendum has produced a vote to leave, these people are focusing their attention on those suspected of pro-EU susceptibilities, and this week their focus has been on the judges who asserted the need for parliamentary input into the ‘Brexit’ process. I think this kind of accelerated process of hatred will undoubtedly alienate more than it attracts, and the two wings of the right will fall apart in the long run, but the danger is that some of their enemies will be targeted by the current political establishment, which fears for its own popular ‘legitimacy’. We’re already seeing this in the UK, as the Tories crank up their nationalist rhetoric to disguise the inevitable ‘soft Brexit’ that big business and the City requires.

17

anymouse88 11.06.16 at 2:58 pm

Right but I think the changes at the edges are what is important. An insignificant million people here and a trivial million people there, you add it all up, and soon you are talking about the difference between winning and losing an election.

Romney got 47.2 percent of the popular vote. If Trump gets that he wins easily. It all depends on the poll but right now I see him at about 42-43. About 10% of the people who supported Romney will not be supporting Trump. As it looks now. That might change.

The electoral map also looks different. States that were not battleground states are now battleground states and states that were battleground states are not battleground states.

So, yea Republicans mostly support the Republican candidate, but at the edge the differences between Trump and Romney, new Trump voters and Romney voters not supporting Trump, millions of voters, is kind of important.

18

Layman 11.06.16 at 3:05 pm

Daragh: “What worries me most about the aftermath of this election (aside from the real possibility of violence) is that the kumbaya narrative, in which we all come together and forget this unpleasantness ever happened, will win out.”

Of all the things about which to worry, this one seems far and away the most remote. There will be no kumbaya moment, and no coherent narrative of one. Clinton will likely win. The Village People will make loud noises about how she needs to ‘reach out’ to Republicans to share power. Whatever she does on that score, the Republicans in power will opt to oppose anything she says or tries to do. Republicans in the Senate, if they retain power, will decline to consider any appointment she makes, to the courts or elsewhere; and if they don’t retain power, they will certainly try to filibuster those appointments, resulting in the Democrats abolishing the 60-vote rule to approve judicial nominees, which the Village People will call an example of Democrats destroying comity for partisan reasons. The Republican-controlled House will hold one scandal hearing after another and eventually, if not immediately, convene impeachment proceedings. After 4 years of this, the Village People will declare the Clinton presidency a failure, note that she hasn’t accomplished anything, and blame the failure on her inability to reach across the aisle, being careful to always note that whatever the sin, Both Sides Do It. Republicans will nominate a less overt racist and bigot – surprisingly a white male! – and he will likely win.

19

Anarcissie 11.06.16 at 3:10 pm

That the present set of prospective Trump voters are traditional Republicans may matter less than the fact that Trump was able to defeat traditional Establishment Republicans like Bush III within the Republican Party with a base of a different kind. As there is no organized Left, and as conservatives have continued to control the presumptively victorious Democratic Party, the forces which gave rise to the Trump phenomenon can be expected to energize its recrudescence in the near future. Indeed, the next Trump may be a Democrat — George Wallace was a Democrat.

20

Layman 11.06.16 at 3:43 pm

Marc: “The only equivalent that I can think of would be to imagine that Dick Cheney was the Republican candidate and that the Democrat was, somehow, worse. How many Democrats would vote for Cheney?”

This is a pointless comparison without identifying the Democrat in question and/or describing the manner in which they were ‘worse’. It’s like the polls pitting ‘generic R/D’ vs. a named opponent, and tells you very little about anything. Of course, that’s the difficult part, isn’t it? Who among the Democrats is worse than Cheney?

21

LFC 11.06.16 at 4:08 pm

@Ronan:
But the argument (afaict) always acknowledged that party ID would be the most important factor deciding voting, the question was what led republicans to turn away from the establishment candidates and towards trump. Noting that trump voters overwhelmingly voted republican in the past doesn’t negate those arguments.

Agree.

Also w most of what Marc @15 said.

22

Pragmatic Idelaist 11.06.16 at 4:17 pm

You shouldn’t make this claim without noting that the Republican group most supportive of Romney, the Mormons, are Trump’s least supportive GOP faction.

23

Sebastian_H 11.06.16 at 4:37 pm

“Trivially, they have both been nominated by the Republican party and their supporters are Republican partisans. “

Trivially? I would tend to think all the other stuff we talk about is important on the margins, because things are narrowly divided enough that the marginal 5-10% count a lot. But party affiliation as ‘tribe’ is an enormous factor–not to be dismissed in a sentence.

The web of personal interactions that get built into self identity over decades is a deeply powerful thing. Most people never change their party affiliation. Those who do will do it once in their lives. Human beings are social creatures. One of the things we do is make excuses for those in our tribe while being vicious about those outside. It isn’t something to be encouraged, but denying its reality is equally foolish.

24

Yankee 11.06.16 at 4:47 pm

It’s easy to see a continuation of the Civil War in this cycle.
Kevin Phillips suggested that the English Civil War, the American Revolutionary War, and the American Civil War could be regarded as phases of an ongoing conflict … might he think the current situation a fourth phase? Trump makes a decent Royalist. HRC as Roundhead?

Kevin thought that the unwinable long-term dynamic was a source of strength (long run) to both sides, so optimism is where you can find it. Kinda hard on the rest of the world, though.

25

kent 11.06.16 at 4:56 pm

I have to agree with Marc, thought I didn’t expect to. If my choice were Donald Trump (D) vs Dick Cheney (R), I would find it difficult to decide. If Trump were promising to appoint liberal justices to the court and, say, push for one or two other liberal dreams (even if I didn’t really trust him to deliver those things)… man, I hate to admit it, but I might lean that way. Urk.

26

Dr. Hilarius 11.06.16 at 5:08 pm

Igor Belanov@ 16 nails it. The Evangelicals are divided about Trump but their leadership long ago opted for worldly power over religious principal.

One element not mentioned by Mr. Belanov is guns; liberals have made gun control a core issue thus inciting a reaction by gun owners for whom this issue is the only issue. Democrats would be well advised to drop gun control as an issue and let rabid pro-gun voters happily return to their bunkers without bothering to cast ballots.

27

Stephen 11.06.16 at 5:30 pm

Marku52 @3: “Trump has consistently made … anti-NATO comments.”

That would very seriously alarm me, but is it accurate? AFAIK, he has complained that the USA’s NATO allies, with a few honourable exceptions (UK, some of Russia’s neighbours, and for reciprocal reasons Greece and Turkey) spend far less than they should on defence, hoping the USA will cover their deficiencies. I’m afraid that might be true, even if Trump says it’s true.

28

Waiting for Godot 11.06.16 at 5:50 pm

Let’s call a spade a shovel here. We have been living in a fascist state since the beginning. The compromise with the devil at the constitutional convention provided the structure for “friendly fascism” to flourish within the confines of a white society that provided for it’s own and turned on a politics of struggle for distribution of wealth within the white population. Trump voters, Romney voters, Bush voters, Reagan voters, Nixon voters and Eisenhower voters all voted for continuation of the status quo in the distribution of wealth and opportunity to the white population. Now that the white population has become a minority our politics hasn’t changed at all.

29

reason 11.06.16 at 6:01 pm

Raven Onthill http://crookedtimber.org/2016/11/06/trump-voters-are-mostly-romney-voters/#comment-697298
Isn’t the point that politics is really about policy, but human frailty forgets that and makes it about personality. But in the US you have the added problem that when in the 18th Century they designed their system they couldn’t think past replacing the King with an elected King. Time to realise that parliamentary systems simply work better, perhaps ?

30

Waiting for Godot 11.06.16 at 6:09 pm

@15

“…more than half of the Trump voters are voting against Clinton, not for Trump.” But that is the political strategy of minority rule and it has been ever thus. That notorious monster maker, Murray Chotiner, gave us Richard Nixon when he convinced Nixon that Americans don’t voted FOR someone, rather they vote against the embodiment of all their fears and hatred. America’s gift to the world is fascism.

31

Omega Centauri 11.06.16 at 6:16 pm

I think Marku @3 and Ronan @9 have important points. Who woulda thunk a candidate who dissed McCain because he’d been captured and Bush because Iraq could win the primary? He may mostly be riding resentiment, but he also was willing to trash some formerly non-negotiable Republican sacred cows.

And we really seem to have normalized massive disrespect for opposition candidates. Yesterdays brief shopping trip was pretty shocking to me. The National Enquirer screaming in its headline that Hillary is a criminal. Then the reams of “current events” books, espousing wild conspiracy theories about the Clintons, and Hillary in particular. Now this genre has been going on for a while, but its amped up yuuugely of late. I can’t imagine how a president Hillary is going to be able to govern, and fear she will simple become the national punching bag.

32

bruce wilder 11.06.16 at 7:11 pm

It’s a re-alignment election without the re-alignment because neither Party was able to find genuinely appealing candidates or credibly commit to genuinely appealing policies.

The truth is that an oligarchy of billionaires and the corporate executive class has a secure hold on American politics, and their death grip will only be threatened by the crumbling foundations of the American economy and military power induced by the obduracy of their loyal minions in both Parties, the Media, academia and the bureaucratic state. The electorate and their silly opinions do not really matter any more and haven’t for some time; they can be managed by PR and campaign professionals. Many Trump voters know this instinctively if not intellectually and will vote for The Donald knowing as much; they don’t want Donald Trump in office so much as they want to say, “fu” to Clinton and a political elite as much Republican as Democratic that doesn’t do anything for them, they do not understand and to which they can find no credible alternative. In this realization, they may be a little ahead of their Democratic counterparts. There’s a lot more residual true faith on the Democratic side in this election, and not just because sincerity is part of the virtue signalling so valued among the educated liberal left. That faith is misplaced and certain to erode.

You cannot have a realignment, if the political class is not willing to supply credible candidates to nurture and represent an electoral coalition, old or newly invented for the occasion. That’s the thing to notice about Trump: not that the Republican electoral coalition will vote for him, but that that coalition could not come find a better candidate to represent them and he had no idea how to get their attention without repelling an electoral majority in the country as a whole. The political class did not offer anyone — well they offered a theatrical stageful of solutions to the demographics-is-partisan-destiny problem the OP addresses; obviously the wrong solution to the wrong problem — they did not offer solutions to the problems experienced by ordinary people in their ordinary lives, problems they may not even understand as political in origin or may understand as political but in bizarrely distorted ways (e.g. racialized resentments). Trump offered himself, like a hopeful auditioning for the reality teevee show the greatly extended Republican primary season became — Trump who clearly understands less about policy than most Fox viewers or barbers or taxi drivers, but was willing to say anything till he got audience response.

Clinton probably wouldn’t be the Democratic candidate, if the fix had not been in at the DNC. And, Clinton’s draining of funds from the Party into her campaign, in circumvention of the campaign finance limits she theoretically favors, will be a significant factor in the Democrats failing to secure control of the Senate by more than the barest DINO margin if at all or advance much in the House. You cannot do a partisan realignment while not even seriously contesting the Congress.

The third-way politics of Bill Clinton has had its last run on the road with the late candidacy of Hillary Clinton. It is dead. It is also no longer needed. Nothing like it is any longer needed, because popular electoral support isn’t being contested — it is being managed by PR and campaign professionals with their narratives and focus groups and so on, with very little serious engagement beyond a Twitter feed and a loss of Facebook friends.

In the 1850s, the country was deeply engaged with slavery expansion as an issue. Newspapers might be only 8 pages twice a week, but those papers published what politicians argued and people read those 8 pages thoroughly. In the 1890s, the country was deeply interested in the economic crisis that culminated in the epic contest of Bryan and McKinley, and again in the 1920s and early 1930s, the burgeoning New Economy and the failing farm economy were hot topics. Hoover’s incapacity in the face of a deflationary spiral gave the country a long time to think. The failure in Vietnam and the stagflation of the 1970s prepared the way for the realignment around Reagan.

The GFC of 2008 and its aftermath and the abject failure of America’s misadventures in the Middle East has not so far seemed to result in a change of policy or personnel. It is all been more of the same, only worse, to use Trump’s phrase. Bush surged in Iraq. Obama surged in Afganistan. And, now Clinton promises a smart surge. oi.

The U.S. faces momentous challenges that would seem to call for dramatic change in direction: climate change, loss of hegemonic dominance, a predatory finance sector dictating an economy that is failing most people. And, the political class is delivering what looks to be still more enervating political deadlock in service to what amounts to deep corruption of institutions from the executive suite. (I’m referring to corporate executive suites: the increasing tendency of all kinds of institutions to fail in their missions as their chief executives pursue enhancements to their own incomes.)

Welcome to the revolution that wasn’t.

33

JimV 11.06.16 at 7:25 pm

The Republican sample I know personally (most of my relatives and acquaintances, but not anywhere near a significant polling sample) are disgusted by Trump but also hate Clintons. Some of them plan to write in a random name. I see a bigger parallel (cluelessness, dog whistles, the business of America is Big Business) between Trump and Reagan/Bush than they do.

34

Stephen 11.06.16 at 8:02 pm

Igor Belanov@16: forgive me for expressing some scepticism about your analysis.

You say that the “leave vote was generally split between old fashioned conservatives … [and] nihilist nationalists. The former are staunch traditionalists, believing in the monarchy…” But the most recent poll (https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/09/08/monarchy-here-stay/) indicated that 71% of UK adults favour the monarchy. That may not be true of your immediate circle: still …

… “[believe in] the memory of the empire”; I don’t know what that means. How can anyone disbelieve in the memory of the empire? Are you claiming you don’t remember it happened?

… ”[believe in] capital and corporal punishment”; well, capital punishment is a traditionally difficult one, with a majority of MPs on one side and till recently a majority (now, a plurality) of the people on the other. I don’t know how best to resolve that. Personally, I agree entirely with Enoch Powell, and partly with Lord Mandelson’s grandfather, Herbert Morrison.

… “[believe in} grammar schools”
https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/15/two-thirds-people-would-send-their-child-grammar-s/

…”[believe in] ‘discipline’ and religious-style morality.“ Don’t know why you put discipline in inverted commas. Are you advocating general indiscipline? If so, for how long do you expect things would remain compatible with a liberal society? As for believing in a religious-style morality: I think you will find those most strongly believing in it are Muslims who are not obvious Leave voters.

“The second group (… espouse nationalism … mainly as a means of marginalising groups they regard as their enemies.” Are you sure you aren’t trying to marginalise those whom you regard as your enemies? Honestly, now?

“Their core political philosophy is no more than … to be able to say what they want about anyone, behave in an egotistical fashion without being judged, they despise smoking bans and speed cameras, dislike taxation and abhor ‘do-gooders’ who attempt to make them feel guilty.” The first, fourth and fifth of these are, I think, true of most of the population of the UK. Are you arguing that people should not be free (short of incitement to violence) to say what they want; that they should like taxation; that they should not object to attempts to make them feel guilty, if they are not so?

As for the second and third: these may be true of a rather deplorable section of the UK. Why you think they are more likely to be true of Leave voters, I cannot say. Over to you.

35

J-D 11.06.16 at 8:19 pm

The voters of a US Republican candidate always will be ‘mostly’ Republicans and thus ‘Romney voters’ – but wasn’t it remarkable … that the historical constituency of the left – unions and workers went in such numbers for a Racist Fascist Birther?Well, it would have been remarkable if it had happened, but it hasn’t. Unions are not backing Trump; and workers are not supporting him at a higher rate than previous Republican candidates.

36

Tom West 11.06.16 at 9:21 pm

As far as I see, the vast majority of voters who are voting Trump are doing so because he isn’t Hillary, just as the vast majority of Democratic voters talk about Trump.

I expect as many Republicans to vote Democrat because of Trump isn’t (name more rational Republican candidate here) as Democrats to vote Republican because Hillary isn’t Sanders.

Since I cannot imagine a scenario where I’d vote Republican regardless of the Democratic candidate (say a Hugo Chavez-alike), it hardly seems fair to expect Republicans to act differently, regardless of the vile-ness of their candidate.

37

nastywoman 11.06.16 at 10:07 pm

and I don’t know if anybody here is aware of this very serious advice from the people of Germany which was send to the ‘Dear Americans’ today – with the subtitle ‘Beentheredonethat’

and it reads:
Dear Americans
Go ahead, vote for the guy with the loud voice who hates minorities, threatens to imprison his opponents, doesn’t give a f… about democracy, and claims he alone can fix everything.
What could possibly go wrong?

Good Luck.’

38

Scott P. 11.06.16 at 10:08 pm

“We’re already seeing this in the UK, as the Tories crank up their nationalist rhetoric to disguise the inevitable ‘soft Brexit’ that big business and the City requires.”

There is no inevitable ‘soft Brexit’. Once Article 50 is invoked, you get hard Brexit in two years, automatically, unless terms are agreed to. And the chance of negotiating anything less in that short a time is essentially nil.

39

John Quiggin 11.06.16 at 11:39 pm

Hillary-hatred has certainly been important in mobilising reluctant Republicans. But that raises a whole bunch of problems of its own.

First, even though Obama ran (and governed) as a soft neoliberal and was, at least through his first term, eager to make deals with the Repubs, they hated him as much as, or more than, Clinton. Sanders would certainly have copped the same, if he’d been nominated. So, Hillary-hatred looks a like like hatred of the Democratic candidate, whoever he or she may be.

Second, and relatedly, Hillary-hatred, to the extent that it is about Clinton rather than Democratics in general, has essentially no basis in reality. She is a factory-issue DLC politician, with a long history of compromises and cosiness with big business, now being pulled a bit to the left by the party as a whole.

Finally, there’s always the option of voting for a third party or abstaining. That’s what most of the never-Trumpers have done, but their numbers have turned out to be tiny.

40

nastywoman 11.06.16 at 11:55 pm

‘and workers are not supporting him at a higher rate than previous Republican candidates.’

Trump promised the American workers to bring their jobs backs – so all the workers and all the union members who believe him support him – and I have no idea if they support him at a higher rate than previous Republican Candidates – but the workers I talked to in Ohio and in Michigan let me suspect it.

41

Layman 11.07.16 at 12:09 am

Tom West: “As far as I see, the vast majority of voters who are voting Trump are doing so because he isn’t Hillary.”

You should get out more, or at least read a poll. Only a third of Trump supporters say that.

http://www.people-press.org/2016/09/21/in-their-own-words-why-voters-support-and-have-concerns-about-clinton-and-trump/

42

Tabasco 11.07.16 at 12:18 am

Hillary-hatred, to the extent that it is about Clinton rather than Democratics in general, has essentially no basis in reality

Hatred of Hillary might have no basis in the policies she believes in, but it has plenty of real basis. Republicans hate her personally with every fiber of their being, much much more than they hate, say, Nancy Pelosi, who is well to the left of Hillary. This hatred will unite the Republicans after the election. The impeachment proceedings, with 100% Republican support, will begin on Wednesday.

43

J-D 11.07.16 at 12:30 am

It takes no subtlety to know that a Hitler … ought be let nowhere near the levers of power.

People who can figure out the reasons for not supporting a Hitler can mostly figure out that those are also the same for not supporting any Nazi. There are differences, but for most people the differences are less important than the similarities.

In much the same way, for most voters (and that’s both for and against), the similarities between Trump and other Republicans are more important than the differences (obvious though they are) when deciding which way to vote. In my own case, for example, the reasons for not voting for a generic Republican candidate are plenty good enough as reasons for not voting for Trump (that is, if I were an American and had a vote in your elections), although he certainly does have some special bonus ones of his own.

44

J-D 11.07.16 at 1:12 am

Trump promised the American workers to bring their jobs backs – so all the workers and all the union members who believe him support him – and I have no idea if they support him at a higher rate than previous Republican Candidates – but the workers I talked to in Ohio and in Michigan let me suspect it.

You suspect. And I suspect that your suspicions are ill-founded.

You wrote earlier of unions and workers supporting Trump in ‘numbers’, but you’ve got no evidence of those numbers. What you stated as if it were an undisputed neutral fact is not one.

45

Omega Centauri 11.07.16 at 1:41 am

John: at the political strategy determining level Hillary-hating is no different than generic-Democrat-hating. Its just a tactical weapon to weaken an opponent. However at the consumer level -and by this I mean the Amygdala’s of the voting public, it seems to stick more strongly for Hillary, than for the other recent figures. The ability of a candidate to repel mud varies greatly from individual to individual. Hillary’s way of ducking mud doesn’t endear her to the public, nor to the press, which considers amplifying the volume of thrown mud to be a high sport.

46

Peter T 11.07.16 at 1:52 am

Following on from Raven Onthill @ 6, some thoughts on parsing out the influences of personality, policy and attitude re Trump.

17 mentioned Hitler, Stalin and Trump. They make a useful trio of contrasts. There’s no doubt that many of Hitler’s policies followed on from the Wilhelmine right: militarism, enforced national unity, violent suppression of the left, subjugating Slavs and building an empire in mitteleuropa…But Hitler added some significant personal twists to policy, by carrying social darwinism to its logical exterminationist end-point and coupling this to extreme anti-Semitism. These made a difference, in that they added 20 million-odd deaths to the inevitable war, and prolonged that war by at least a year (WW II Germans, like ISIS, fought with an elan borne of conviction on the offense, and a desperation borne of fear on the defense. The Kaiser did not have to blasted out of a bunker).

The Soviet archives support the view that most of Stalin’s policies had wide support among the elite and a degree of grudging respect among a lot of the populace. Probably anyone as effective as Stalin would have been nearly as brutal, and anyone much less brutal would have been less effective. As the fate of a good many Czars attests, Russia has a low tolerance for weak leadership and a high tolerance for for a tough state. This suggests that while Stalin’s personality made a difference, it was not much of a difference.

There’s no evidence that Trump has any policy agenda at all or, indeed, ever thinks about policies. He just makes noises until something resonates, and then amplifies it. This is consonant with his approach to life, where his two obsessions seem to be sex and publicity, both approached without deliberation, polish or care. Insofar as his policies would be standard Republican fare, those Republicans who care about policy (in the widest sense of supporting the approach of their party to the issues they care about) can vote for him. If Trump makes a difference, it will be on attitudes. His style gets most attention (although it seems to have turned off more voters than it has attracted), but the success or otherwise of his grift operation may have a larger impact. If he goes on to make a fortune, he will have validated the Huckabee/Gingrich/Palin/Scott/Cain/Carson model in spades, and the Republican party will become even more a magnet for opportunists of every description.

47

Sancho 11.07.16 at 2:30 am

One suspected that a lot of Trump voters don’t know how bad things can get.

They can imagine the nation getting browner, and they can imaging women having more power in government, and they can imagine a host of other things stemming from a Clinton presidency that they perceive as attacks on their privilege and God-given supremacy, but they don’t consider that Trump could end the world, or at least ruin America permanently.

Their worst-case scenario is far too tame.

48

ozajh 11.07.16 at 3:49 am

Prof. Quiggin,

Slightly off-topic, but I’ve long thought you should do a post (or get someone to do a guest post) on how elections work here down-under (with particular reference to the role of the Australian Electoral Commission).

When I visited the USA in (early!!) 2001, the 2000 election was still in people’s minds. (And of course 9/11 was still in the future). Looking at where I went and who I talked to I probably met more Democrats than Republicans, but without exception US citizens were fascinated in the way the Australian electoral system functions. As one lady (a teacher) put it, “I would never have believed until now that a system could be so different from ours and yet still be a real democracy”.

49

Ian Maitland 11.07.16 at 4:07 am

Jason Horowitz in Sunday or Monday’s NYT writes about Bill Clinton’s irrelevance on the campaign trail. “Since January, Mr. Clinton has done nearly 500 public events, a good deal of them designed to capture the affection white working-class voters had for him and then transfer it to Mrs. Clinton. But that happens to be the demographic that constitutes Mr. Trump’s base.”

If that is Trump’s base, it doesn’t sound much like Romney’s.

50

Tom West 11.07.16 at 4:31 am

Layman #41:
> You should get out more, or at least read a poll. Only a third of Trump supporters say that (“hating Hillary”).

An interesting poll – thanks. But I was talking not about all of his support, but about the capital-R Republicans (the “elite” who are presumed to ‘know better’). And indeed, perhaps I should get out more.

But I have corresponded with a number of Trump supporters (none in my immediate circle – my bubble’s pretty complete, but at least found a few fairly articulate people to talk with. )

100% (out of sample size of half a dozen) abhorred Trump but almost all consider Hillary/the Democrats the greater threat and will be voting party lines. Now anecdotal data is anecdotal data, but it fits with how most of the people I know would react to a hypothetical Democratic candidate who had an alarming tendency to declare he would not let rule of law prevent him from punishing the rich elite who have been protected by Republican controlled courts and prosecutors.

Sure, we might not like him and try to stop his nomination, but if he did win?

Would we hand the Supreme court to the Republicans? That would be madness! Besides, even if he tries lives up to his rhetoric, Congress will stop him. And putting a little fear of “midnight visits” into the bankers might actually smarten them up! etc, etc.

Again, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect the elite of either side to abandon their side, no matter how repugnant the candidate. It’s the undecided that are the only ones in play, and one has to hope that that awfulness doesn’t actually attract too many from the middle.

51

Sebastian H 11.07.16 at 5:18 am

“First, even though Obama ran (and governed) as a soft neoliberal and was, at least through his first term, eager to make deals with the Repubs, they hated him as much as, or more than, Clinton.”

I’m not sure how you would measure it, but that isn’t the impression that I get. The Republican Party has become the obstruction party, but Hillary seems more hated than Obama ever was, and certainly more so now.

“Second, and relatedly, Hillary-hatred, to the extent that it is about Clinton rather than Democratics in general, has essentially no basis in reality. She is a factory-issue DLC politician, with a long history of compromises and cosiness with big business, now being pulled a bit to the left by the party as a whole.”

This seems like a dangerous can of worms to open until the election is over, but Hillary is not just a standard DLC politician who has a bit of cosiness with business. The Clintons have always taken lots of opportunities to max out every not quite illegal version of corruption they could get their hands on. They are lawyers with lots of good lawyers. That isn’t a compliment.

The scandal is in what’s legal. I’ve never heard a good non-corrupt explanation for how commodities trader and Clinton Foundation donor Rajiv Fernando got Clinton’s office to successfully push him onto the arms control oriented and top-secret clearance requiring International Security Advisory Board. Was it prosecutably illegal? I don’t care, I’d like to see a good explanation. I’ve never seen a good explanation of why Sidney Blumenthal was getting $10,000 per month as a staff member of the Clinton Foundation while he was also pulling in about $200,000 a year doing unspecificed ‘consulting’ with Media Matters entities for multiple years–just another case of how being a Clinton loyalist can make you fantastically rich. Is it technically illegal? I don’t care, I’d like to hear a good explanation. It isn’t remotely clear why the Saudi government was giving tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. I’m sure Clinton’s lawyers have reviewed it all to make sure it technically doesn’t break any laws, but Congress writes the corruption laws…

Yes Republicans absolutely would be mean to whomever was the candidate. That doesn’t mean that all possible candidates are equally vulnerable. Clinton is easy to portray as corrupt because she and her friends get fantastically wealthy and end up in charge of huge streams of money for rather non-obvious reasons on a very regular basis. I think the main defense is “other politicians do it too” which is a) not comforting if you think other politicians do it too much and b) not remotely comforting if you think that she does it with both a breadth and depth not seen by any other politician that you would label ‘honest’.

Is Trump worse? Certainly. Absolutely. Definitely.

We should want better than “less corrupt than Trump”.

We should want better than “technically didn’t break quid pro quo corruption laws in ways that could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in court”.

52

nastywoman 11.07.16 at 6:18 am

‘You suspect. And I suspect that your suspicions are ill-founded.’

Then please talk to Michael Mooore.

53

nastywoman 11.07.16 at 6:42 am

‘What you stated as if it were an undisputed neutral fact is not one.’

Sorry about that – but I thought that everybody who was interested in this election was aware of the fact that Trump with his promise to bring Americas workers jobs backs – has gained a lot of support of Americas workers and to quote just one of the many articles which were written about this fact:

‘Why These Union Members and Lifelong Democrats Are Voting Trump’
by Patricia Murphy

David Kemper and his wife are union members and lifelong Democrats. But the Kempers and their 20-year-old son, Nicholas, are planning to vote for Donald Trump in November.
“Growing up we were very strong Democrats, but the Democrat party left us,” David Kemper said, standing at the back of a Ted Cruz barbecue near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week. He had traveled from Minnesota to the RNC to be with Nicholas, who was an alternate Texas delegate for Trump.
When the Kempers vote for Trump, they’ll be breaking with the leadership of their national unions, which have both endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. “I’m in the CWA, my wife is American Federation of Teachers, but we felt like the unions have left us, too,” said David Kemper.The split between labor leaders and union members lies at the center of Trump’s potential path to the White House, which includes winning over a swath of Rust Belt states from Pennsylvania to Ohio, thanks to his cross-party appeal among traditionally Democratic union workers.
But labor leaders across the country are warning that Trump’s promises to bring back American manufacturing by ditching bad trade deals and getting tough on China are nothing more than Trump’s latest and greatest scam. The direction labor voters follow will make or break Trump’s chances in November.
Tom Conway, the international vice president of United Steelworkers union, is supporting Clinton, but he knows some rank-and-file members are considering voting for the Republican nominee.
“Trump has figured out this anger and this angst, and he’s running a campaign on it,” Conway said. “But for me personally, you look at his history. All he knows is how to manufacture offshore.”
…Despite leaders’ warnings, Trump seems to have found fertile territory among the workers whose factories closed in the last 15 years as jobs were shipped overseas.
His trade policies can be boiled down to a few slogans, including his promises to “get tough with China,” negotiate “great trade deals,” and bolt from the World Trade Organization. Mostly, though, he just promises that American workers are going to win.
But Gene Sperling, the national economic adviser to Presidents Clinton and Obama, argued that there is no reason to believe Trump’s promises on trade or the economy generally.
“Even if you believe he’s fighting for trade deals, why would anyone possibly think that they would be on behalf of U.S. workers, as opposed to organizations like the Trump Organization to take even more advantage of race-to-the-bottom labor and environmental policies?” Sperling said. “My question is, ‘What in his record would suggest otherwise?’ Zip.”
But Trump is clearly getting through to at least some of the blue-collar workers who voted for Democrats as recently as 2012. In six polls conducted this month, Trump leads Clinton, 58 percent to 30 percent, among white voters without a college degree, a major improvement over Mitt Romney’s performance four years ago, according to a New York Times analysis.
On an individual personal level, it rarely takes much time at a Trump or RNC event these days to find union members like the Kempers in Cleveland ready to vote against Clinton and the Democrats and their own union leadership, by casting a vote for Trump.

54

Igor Belanov 11.07.16 at 10:19 am

Stephen @ 34

“But the most recent poll indicated that 71% of UK adults favour the monarchy. That may not be true of your immediate circle: still …”

For one thing, I wasn’t suggesting that I am among a majority in the UK. But there is a clear difference between staunch monarchists who organise street parties on Jubilee days and have crockery commemorating Royal Weddings, and people who might regard the monarchy as a good thing when asked by a pollster but otherwise couldn’t care less.

“How can anyone disbelieve in the memory of the empire? Are you claiming you don’t remember it happened?”

That’s just ridiculously pedantic. It’s clear that I’m referring to people who cling to the memory of the empire, regret the passing of its ‘civilising mission’, and believe that the old white Dominions are still ‘our friends’ and European countries our permanent enemies.

In addition, people saying they would want their child to go to grammar schools if they were reintroduced is a different thing to saying that they want grammar schools back. Many parents are frightened stiff that their children would lose out if they are placed in the ‘failing group’. I would have thought that would make the reintroduction of grammar schools more popular.

“‘discipline’ and religious-style morality.“ Don’t know why you put discipline in inverted commas. Are you advocating general indiscipline?”

I put discipline in inverted commas because the term is used on the right in a different way to that which some of us would use. I take ‘discipline’ in this sense as something that is held to be a good thing in itself and as a way of enforcing unchallenged respect for those in positions of power or higher social status.

“Are you arguing that people should not be free (short of incitement to violence) to say what they want”

I’m referring to the anti-PC brigade. Do you think its socially acceptable to call someone a nigger, a paki or a faggot, or to abuse the disabled?

“that they should like taxation”

Accepting it might be necessary to pay for public services is a start.

As I said before, I wasn’t claiming to be in a majority on any of these issues, merely describing political phenomena. It’s notable that you had to resort to such pedantry in an attempt to refute them.

55

nastywoman 11.07.16 at 11:26 am

and I don’t understand any rational to dispute the fact that a lot of Americas angry and depressed workers have been ‘moved’ over to an Insane Racist Fascist Birther – and that it would be wise for us getting these workers back – in order to get with their help a truly ‘progressive’ and ‘social democratic’ candidate elected -(without calling her or him ‘social democratic’ as it might scare to many voters)

And as little affection I have for any kind of Republicans or Conservatives BUT – please F…face von Clownstick – never ever can be compared to a ‘traditional Republican’ – how many ‘traditional Republicans’ might vote for him.

56

Z 11.07.16 at 12:28 pm

Only a third of Trump supporters say [they support him because he is not Clinton]

Well, yes, but the very same poll shows it’s still the most frequent answer (and the answer “he’s a Republican” and even arguably “he’s outside politics/he will bring change” are not extremely far from it either) whereas only 8% mention immigration, and yet you consider that (I quote from one of your comment in Arguing against racism post) “racism is a big driver of [Trump’s] support”.

I’m not saying you are wrong, far from it, but if we are to examine data, then we should do it fairly.

57

Z 11.07.16 at 12:36 pm

@John

Hillary-hatred looks like hatred of the Democratic candidate

I agree. Recently, This American Life explored the topics of your last two posts. They are interesting stories to listen to, both of them. In it, they examine the role of alternative rightwing media in the construction of a parallel reality (in which any Democratic candidate is incomparably worse than even Donald Trump but also one in which several places in the US are under Sharia law). That’s not really an explanation, though, because living in epistemic closure has real-world disadvantages, so one may wonder why roughly 45% of the electorates buy into it.

A provocative theory I heard recently which is incidentally echoed in Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me) is the idea that American Democracy and particularly the idea of political equality has historically be founded on political equality among Whites, itself requiring the social domination, exclusion or destruction of Blacks. But changes in mentalities (symbolized by Obama) on the one hand, the meteoritic rise of inequality and the rigidification of society even among Whites on the other have severely weakened both the foundational principle and the actual social reality.

A society which is loosing the common belief that people are fundamentally politically equal is a very dangerous one: everyone can start entertaining the credible belief that political opponents are in it to confiscate political power, perhaps forever. Hillary voters (and sane people) believe this (credibly) about Trump (and Republicans in general) but Trump voters believe this equally sincerely and fervently about Hillary (and Democrats in general).

I admit I believe this theory to be an interesting one to explore. It has the virtue of explaining the resurgence of naked reality-independent racism on the right but also the rise of differentialist thinking on the American left.

58

Yan 11.07.16 at 1:55 pm

Sanchez @47 “One suspected that a lot of Trump voters don’t know how bad things can get… Their worst-case scenario is far too tame.”

That’s certainly true, but it’s true of HRC voters, too. I’m supporting her primarily because I have some sense of what to expect, while I find Trump wildly unpredictable. My best guess is that with HRC the likely outcome is incrementally more war: in more places, with more drones and munitions, stretching the boundaries of international law in more ways, if not with ground troops.

But as far as I can tell, the worst case scenario in both is identical: global nuclear war. I really don’t know how to predict which candidate is more likely to bring about that particular worst case scenario. Trump officially calls for normalized relations with Russia, but seems to have no consistent ideology and is in all other respects hawkish, promising more bombs.

Clinton says in public she’ll impose a no fly zone, makes threats about obliterating Iran if necessary for Israel’s defense, and has gone whole heartedly into Cold War rhetoric about Russia. In addition she sided with with more military intervention, even against Obama and his advisors, in Libya. Unlike even Obama who is far from a peace prize but held out against hawkish critics in a number of cases, including Iraq, Ukraine, and Syria, HRC has never vocallyopposed any meddling foreign policy, never spoken out for caution, has always been either silent or supportive, e.g., in Libya, Honduras, and Yemen.

I have no idea what the comparative odds of the worst case are for each, but it seems strange to me that Democrats would deny the odds are comparable. The only strong evidence for prediction gives HRC the edge, but fortunately we know she often doesn’t mean what she says outside closed doors. In private speeches she mentions concern, e.g., about the dangers of a no fly zone.

For me, Trump’s unpredictability, plus his domestic dangers tip it. But if we’re talking world war, could someone explain to me why they think Clinton’s obviously and significantly less of a risk?

59

Layman 11.07.16 at 2:10 pm

Tom West: “But I was talking not about all of his support, but about the capital-R Republicans (the “elite” who are presumed to ‘know better’).”

To be clear, you’re saying that when you wrote this:

“As far as I see, the vast majority of voters who are voting Trump are doing so because he isn’t Hillary, just as the vast majority of Democratic voters talk about Trump.”

…what you really meant was that you think some Republican elites are supporting Trump for that reason, and that a half-dozen people you’ve corresponded with say so. Really? Forgive me, but it’s a bit hard to believe that’s what you were trying to convey.

“Again, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect the elite of either side to abandon their side, no matter how repugnant the candidate.”

Again, the problem with this argument is that it assumes a symmetry that doesn’t exist. The Republican Party is and has been, reliably, rooted in racism, bigotry, and white supremacy for decades. The Democratic Party is not and has not been. Arguments of the form ‘Democrats would abandon Trump if he ran as a racist and gained the nomination’ fail because Trump would not gain the nomination, because the party is essentially an anti-racist, anti-misogyny coalition.

As to this: “…most of the people I know would react to a hypothetical Democratic candidate who had an alarming tendency to declare he would not let rule of law prevent him from punishing the rich elite who have been protected by Republican controlled courts and prosecutors.”

…it’s a pure fantasy. When in your lifetime has such a candidate presented himself to the Democratic Party? The Republican Party routinely produces candidates who declare that they’ll flout the law (torture comes to mind), but I can’t remember any Democratic candidate who has done so.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty wrong with the Democratic Party and the candidates they produce, but the two parties are not the same.

60

Layman 11.07.16 at 2:22 pm

Sebastian H: ‘I think the main defense is “other politicians do it too” which is a) not comforting if you think other politicians do it too much and b) not remotely comforting if you think that she does it with both a breadth and depth not seen by any other politician that you would label ‘honest’.’

It’s frankly hard to understand what you’re going on about. How is it that your distaste for the nature of politics, politicians, and elites manifests itself only as diatribes against Clinton? How is Clinton’s corruption different from Sanders, who admits that he deliberately voted against his conscience – with real-world consequences for victims of gun violence and the ongoing power of the gun lobby – in order to ensure he would continue to be re-elected? If you agree he is also corrupt, where is the non-corrupt politician the Democrats should have chosen, the one you would then feel good about, the one that makes it clear that Clinton is somehow an extraordinary exemplar of corruption?

61

mds 11.07.16 at 3:02 pm

What Trump has done is to show that some things previously thought to be core Republican commitments (free trade, for example) are actually peripheral.

No, what Trump has done is to show that one can lie by commission as easily as one can lie by omission. Plenty of Real Americans(TM) in the Heartland have long railed against “sending jobs to Mexico” while voting repeatedly for candidates who support it, because at least those candidates also hate abortion, gays, and lazy minorities on welfare. Trump has merely extended things by tapping into this anger with meaningless assertions. Oooh, he’ll “talk tough to China.” Oooh, he’ll get “better terms” for NAFTA. He’lls show those job-thieving foreigners who’s boss. Left unsaid is how this would actually work. And of course, it conveniently lets off the hook those who are deciding to offshore American jobs in the first place.**

Putting it another way, free trade was never a core Republican voter commitment; it was a core commitment for the donor class. And they’ll largely have their way on the issue no matter who wins tomorrow. But at least Trump has beaten his chest about it first.

**I can just see the scene in the boardroom now, with a tearful CEO explaining how he wanted to keep the US factory open, but Chinese operatives threatened his family.

62

reason 11.07.16 at 3:27 pm

ozajh http://crookedtimber.org/2016/11/06/trump-voters-are-mostly-romney-voters/#comment-697372
“I would never have believed until now that a system could be so different from ours and yet still be a real democracy”
Exactly what I think in reverse, but with the words “is it though?” added on the end.

63

Marc 11.07.16 at 3:33 pm

@44: There have been a series of illuminating articles about demographic changes that are real and should concern Democrats. In Northeast Ohio, for example, Obama comfortably won a lot of blue-collar counties which Clinton is trailing in. Racism doesn’t explain switching from Obama to Trump (and, no, other claims that these people are morally inferior aren’t going to work better). There is just something else going on – although it’s hidden by the persistence of hard partisanship. As John notes, most Trump supporters were Romney supporters and most Clinton supporters were Obama supporters. So it’s very hard to use averages to catch these trends – you need, instead, to look at areas with unusual demographics to see the evidence. The fact that the average Republican is not economically marginal relative to the general population does not shed light on the people who are switching allegiance.

Northeast Ohio or western Pennsylvania are areas that have very strong historic union traditions, now weakened; their economies, cities and town have been gutted; and they continued to support Obama strongly, so you can’t invoke the same explanation that worked in Appalachia, where a combination of racial animus and the collapse of the coal industry allowed the Southern Strategy to migrate north.

I’m made truly uncomfortable when I see liberals treating working class people the way that Republicans have traditionally treated the poor: as a group with no real problems (the economy is great! The average income of Trump supporters is high! …vs “if these people are so poor why do they have smartphones and cable TV?”) and as having low moral character (they’re sexist, racist, and ignorant; vs. republican claims about the poor having high crime rates, low marriage rates, and lots of children.) I don’t see malice, but I do think that it’s comforting to hear a story where you’re doing everything right and the people who disagree with you are worthless.

Trump, like Le Pen, will hopefully lose decisively. The problems that led working class voters to turn to both of them remain. I honestly wish that I knew how to address them, and the problem may be that we don”t know.

64

nastywoman 11.07.16 at 4:37 pm

‘But at least Trump has beaten his chest about it first.’

– and I don’t want to belabor the point – but if F…face von Clownstick has any chance to win the Presidency – it only will be with the votes of the (forgotten?) workers of the Rust Belt States.

There is no other way… and it would be for every advocate of labour in this World the most depressing aspect of the US election.

65

CJColucci 11.07.16 at 5:24 pm

The only equivalent that I can think of would be to imagine that Dick Cheney was the Republican candidate and that the Democrat was, somehow, worse. How many Democrats would vote for Cheney?

Until some nut’s Second Amendment solution mooted the issue, there was a non-trivial possibility that in 1972 I would have had to choose between Richard Nixon and George Wallace. Although I cut my political teeth opposing Nixon and all his works, had it come to that, I would have voted for Nixon and brushed up on my French.

66

Stephen 11.07.16 at 5:49 pm

Igor: if you think my pointing out that what you wrote made no sense is “pedantry”. well, I’m a charitable man, if it makes you feel better then by all means do it.

Just don’t expect me to take that for a reasoned reply.

Let us both join in a fervent hope that Trump fails.

67

Omega Centauri 11.07.16 at 9:23 pm

Marc:
“The problems that led working class voters to turn to both of them remain. I honestly wish that I knew how to address them, and the problem may be that we don”t know.”

I don’t think its the whole answer, but a big part of the problem is the migration of jobs -especially the better ones from the countryside (including small to moderate sized towns) to the larger cities. One thing that can bring middle clas jobs back to the countryside, is a massive buildout of renewable energy, and the transmission capability needed to make it more effective. Most of this new wind and solar will best be generated by being distributed throughout the country. In a sense we have found a new economic use for lesser-populated land, besides farming and ranching. Adding energy harvesting infrastructure could probably reduce or possibly reverse the flight of economic opportunity from the countryside to the big city.

68

anon/portly 11.07.16 at 9:53 pm

The linked Enten article is good, but still the focus on data concerning “Republican voters” and “Demoratic voters” is somewhat limited. What would be interesting to know is how many actual (Obama,Trump) and (Romney, Clinton) voters there will be in 2012/2016, compared to (for example) the number of (Bush, Obama) and (Kerry, Romney) voters in 2004/2008 or (for another example) the number of (Dole, Gore) and (Clinton, Bush) voters in 1996/2000.

Obviously most Trump voters will come from voters who voted for or preferred Romney, and most Clinton voters will come from voters who voted for or preferred Obama, but still you wonder whether there won’t be more movement back and forth this time.

The suggestion that “Trump is a traditional Republican, in the line of Goldwater and Reagan” strikes me as complementary to “George Will beams happily,” not “George Will runs screaming from the room,” so it really just amounts to anti-Reagan and Goldwater rhetoric.

Hillary-hatred has certainly been important in mobilising reluctant Republicans. But that raises a whole bunch of problems of its own.

First, even though Obama ran (and governed) as a soft neoliberal and was, at least through his first term, eager to make deals with the Repubs, they hated him as much as, or more than, Clinton.

The Gallup unfavorability ratings show all the major party candidates from 2004-2012 in the 20-25% range, while Hillary is in the low 30’s and Trump in the low 40’s. It may be true that Republican stalwarts “hated [Obama] as much as, or more than, Clinton,” but more Americans dislike Clinton in 2016 than disliked Obama in 2008 or 2012.

More importantly, in 2012 Romney did not base his campaign on personal attacks against Obama. Brad Delong recently ran a very interesting series of posts on Romney, and one thing we learned was that Romney in 2012 thought his best strategy was to criticize Obama obliquely. (We also learned that Romney is pretty nutty, oh well).

Look at Trump’s message as the campaign winds down The message I’m seeing (ads and as much of his stump ramblings as I can take) is “Hillary is a crook,” that’s most of what he has to say. Oddly, for me it’s the most appealing part of his message, since the rest of it seems to be “an illegal immigrant may senselessly murder you” and “I will bring back the jobs while slashing taxes.” Maybe I haven’t watched long enough to get to the palatable bits. But still, “Hillary-hatred” hasn’t just be “important in mobilising reluctant Republicans,” if Trump wins “Hillary-hatred” will have essentially been the central message of the winning campaign!

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J-D 11.07.16 at 10:29 pm

‘You suspect. And I suspect that your suspicions are ill-founded.’

Then please talk to Michael Mooore.
Breaking News: Michael Moore is fallible. Film At Eleven.

I’ll let you be the one to break it to him.

‘What you stated as if it were an undisputed neutral fact is not one.’

Sorry about that – but I thought that everybody who was interested in this election was aware of the fact that Trump with his promise to bring Americas workers jobs backs – has gained a lot of support of Americas workers and to quote just one of the many articles which were written about this fact:

‘Why These Union Members and Lifelong Democrats Are Voting Trump’
by Patricia Murphy

Why do you say ‘Sorry’? You’re not sorry.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_bites_dog_(journalism)

“When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”

The phenomenon is also described in the journalistic saying, “You never read about a plane that did not crash”

In a typical election, the majority of voters are people who are voting the same way they did last time. So that’s not news, and journalists have little interest in reporting it. However, in every election (or nearly every one) there are people who are voting differently from the way they did last time. Although this happens every election, those people are still the exception rather than the rule, which makes them more interesting to journalists; but because it happens every election, journalists can always find some of those people if they want to write a story about them. In US Presidential elections, specifically, the majority of workers vote Democratic, and this is more markedly true of unionised workers; but there’s also always a minority of workers, and also more specifically a smaller minority of unionised workers, who vote Republican. Because those people are the exception rather than the rule, they are more interesting to journalists; but because the phenomenon recurs in every election, journalists can always find some of those people if they want to write a story about them.

So what you’ve cited is the entirely predictable phenomenon of a journalist deciding to write a story about an unusual minority and finding people who belong to it. There’s nothing in that to show that the phenomenon is unprecedented (it certainly isn’t) and also nothing to show that it’s happening at a higher frequency than it has in past elections. I’m sure Michael Moore can find some of those same people, and I’m sure you can too, but that provides no support for the conclusion that Trump appeals to workers in general, or to unionised workers in particular, in a way that previous Republican candidates have not.

On the other hand, it would be much more unusual, and therefore a much bigger story, if unions as organisations (as opposed to individual members of those unions) were backing the Republican candidate. If it were happening, journalists would be highly unlikely to miss it, particularly if they were writing stories like this one. However, this story doesn’t report any instances of such a thing happening, and that counts as evidence against your earlier assertion it is.

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nastywoman 11.07.16 at 11:15 pm

‘Why do you say ‘Sorry’?

Because ‘my bad’ – as I couldn’t comprehend –
after such a long erection – and all these articles and reports -(not only from Michael Moore or the article I quoted) –
and the fact that ‘Ohio is in play’ –
and the fact that Trump promised the American workers over and over again to bring their jobs back –
and the unemployed workers at his rally’s –
and the fact that Trump once lead Clinton, 58 percent to 30 percent, among white voters without a college degree –
and the fact that this is a major improvement over Mitt Romney’s performance four years ago –
and that already in the first presidential debate F…face von Clownstick had only one winning argument ‘the workers jobs’ –
and that he ‘still’ seem to have only one winning argument –

wouldn’t be common knowledge?

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Sebastian H 11.08.16 at 12:54 am

“How is it that your distaste for the nature of politics, politicians, and elites manifests itself only as diatribes against Clinton?”

It doesn’t. Corruption isn’t a binary thing. You could pretty much assume that most politicians have a fairly high degree of corruption compared to regular people. I’m sure that even the most honest politician has changed a vote that they didn’t think was a big deal at the time or heard out a rich donor when they wouldn’t have listened to a poorer one. It is the scale of what the Clintons do that makes me so uncomfortable with it. It is the lawyer’s instinct to stretch the law to just the point before breaking that gets to me. It is the amazing ‘luckiness’ with money that their entire orbit seems to have. It is the shocking donations from unlikely places that have no explanation. I gave a couple of pretty clear examples.

If a commodities trader with no arms control experience and no security clearance was pushed on to the International Security Advisory Board by a Republican, over the direct objections of mid level staff who said he was clearly unqualified, it would be pretty easy to portray that as a form of corruption around here. But when Clinton does it, we have to pretend not to see it. (Rajiv Fernando).

If an administration insider gets caught spreading lies to mislead the press and then gets a $10,000 per month ‘advisor’ job at a Koch institute with an additional $200,000 per year from a party controlled watchdog group for ‘consulting’ we can notice that it is a crony-payoff around here. When Clinton does it, we have to pretend not to see it. (Sidney Blumenthal/Clinton Foundation/Media Matters).

If the Saudis gave tens of millions to some right-wing foundation, you would rightly ask what they thought they were getting for the money. When Clinton does it, hell I don’t even know what story we are supposed to believe on that one.

I would be totally unshocked to find that every politician in the world has done SOMETHING shady. The Clintons have always been about taking that to the max, institutionalizing it, and then making us all defend them every time. Pretty much any major Democrat would have been better than Hillary on that score.

The problem with the US political sphere right now is that Democrats won’t call her on it because we are rightly too scared of Trump, and Republicans can’t properly call her on it because they do all the same types of corrupt things. But she isn’t a bog standard Democrat.

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Layman 11.08.16 at 1:36 am

Yan: “Clinton says in public she’ll impose a no fly zone…”

Not to mince words, but that is a lie.

Clinton has said quite clearly that she’ll negotiate with and convince the Russians to agree to a no-fly zone, which is not at all the same thing as imposing one on them. You may think she’ll fail to convince them – I certainly think she’ll fail – but trying to convince them won’t start WW3.

73

J-D 11.08.16 at 1:53 am

‘Why do you say “Sorry”?’ Because ‘my bad’ – as I couldn’t comprehend –
Perhaps you still don’t.

None of your points are evidence to support the conclusion that Trump is attracting significantly higher levels of support from workers than previous Republican candidates have done, which I shall call ‘The Conclusion’.

after such a long erection

That’s what Trump says, that he has no problem with that, but even if it were true (and I can’t think of any good reason to believe him on the subject), it would not be evidence for The Conclusion, because there’s no link between virile endowment and support from workers.

all these articles and reports -(not only from Michael Moore or the article I quoted) –

The accumulation of such reports, if they resemble the one you’ve quoted, is not sufficient evidence to support The Conclusion, because they’d all be examples of ‘Man Bites Dog’ journalism, as previously explained. When a man bites a dog, it’s to be expected that it will be reported repeatedly, but the repeated reports don’t make it a common event, they happen precisely because it’s unusual.

the fact that ‘Ohio is in play’

This is not evidence for The Conclusion, for two reasons.
The first is that ‘Ohio’ is not the same thing as ‘worker’ (and ‘not Ohio’ is not the same thing as ‘not worker’).
The second is that there is nothing unusual about Ohio being ‘in play’. Ohio is just following its usual pattern. It is a State that is frequently contested in Presidential elections, and in the long run, if anything, slightly favours Republicans: Ohio has voted for the successful candidate in every election from 1896 to 2012 with only two exceptions, 1944 and 1960, on both of which occasions it voted for the Republican even though the national vote favoured the Democrat.

the fact that Trump promised the American workers over and over again to bring their jobs back

That’s not evidence for The Conclusion. It’s evidence that Trump is trying to get the votes of workers, but it’s not evidence of how well he’s succeeding. All Republican candidates — indeed, all candidates — try to get the votes of workers, because if you don’t get the votes of any workers you can’t get elected.

the unemployed workers at his rally’s

More ‘Man Bites Dog’ journalism. It is routine and predictable that there are some unemployed workers supporting the Republican, but it attracts attention precisely because a larger number of unemployed workers vote Democrat.

the fact that Trump once lead Clinton, 58 percent to 30 percent, among white voters without a college degree –
and the fact that this is a major improvement over Mitt Romney’s performance four years ago

It is true that Trump is doing better among some demographic groups than previous Republican candidates; he’s also doing less well among others. This does not support The Conclusion because ‘white voter without a college degree’ is not the same thing as ‘worker’ (and ‘voter with a college degree’ is not the same thing as ‘not a worker’, and ‘minority voter’ is not the same thing as ‘not a worker’).

already in the first presidential debate F…face von Clownstick had only one winning argument ‘the workers jobs’ –
and that he ‘still’ seem to have only one winning argument

The fact that he used the argument is more evidence that he is trying to attract the support of workers, but it’s not evidence of how successful he’s been.

I hope this explanation helps you to comprehend, but if you still can’t, I don’t think the inability is something you should apologise for.

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nastywoman 11.08.16 at 6:54 am

‘I hope this explanation helps you to comprehend’

It helped – but probably not as much as Obama’s speech yesterday in Michigan?
It was:
‘an attempt to undercut Trump’s political strength here. He made a direct appeal to working-class voters, particularly the large number who have ties to the auto industry.

Obama recounted the role he played in saving Chrysler and General Motors in 2009, when their imminent financial collapse threatened not just the auto titans but suppliers and other related business ― with a very high likelihood that their failures would send ripples of economic catastrophe throughout the Midwest.

“To every autoworker on the assembly line, to every small business owner, to every barkeeper and every teacher, I think I’ve earned some credibility here,” Obama said.

From there, Obama lit into Trump as somebody who has very little understanding of working people ― except for housekeepers who clean up after him ― and whose record in business included buying Chinese steel for his hotels.

“Donald Trump isn’t going to be the guy who is going to be looking out for you,” Obama said. “Do not be bamboozled. … He has never shown any regard for working folks.”

Obama went on to criticize Trump for suggesting, in an interview with the Detroit News, that companies should move jobs to nonunion states with lower wages ― a statement that Trump actually made, although he suggested it as an alternative to the companies shipping jobs to Mexico and other countries.

After attacking Trump, Obama talked about Clinton’s plan to help working people ― by, among other things, raising the minimum wage and launching a massive public works program that would create jobs. And in a reprise of lines he’s given many times before, he praised Clinton’s leadership abilities and personality, contrasting them with Trump’s.’

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Layman 11.08.16 at 11:41 am

Sebastian H: “It doesn’t.”

Given my question, your response is comical. Here we are in a thread about the nature of Trump voters – whether they are simply bog-standard Republican voters or not – and all you can write about is Clinton’s corruption. When I ask why that’s all you can write about, and ask you to identify some non-corrupt politician you prefer, you offer a response in which all you can write about is Clinton’s corruption. I’d say that’s instructive.

76

J-D 11.08.16 at 7:50 pm

Obama’s appealing to workers in Michigan corroborates an observation I made in an earlier comment (emphasis added)

All Republican candidates — indeed, all candidates — try to get the votes of workers, because if you don’t get the votes of any workers you can’t get elected.

Obama gave his reasons why workers should not support Trump, but there’s no new information in that story, one way or the other, about how much support Trump is in fact getting from workers.

77

Sebastian H 11.08.16 at 11:50 pm

The reason I’m talking about Clinton’s corruption is because John dismisses it as a distinction between her and Obama. It isn’t that easily dismissed. My point on this thread was that tribalism causes people to defend those on their side in ways that they would find indefensible in their opponents. The Clinton defenders her seem to illustrate that point.

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nastywoman 11.09.16 at 12:42 am

‘but there’s no new information in that story, one way or the other, about how much support Trump is in fact getting from workers.’

That’s why it is always quite impressive how Obama anyhow seems to be able to suspect the problem.

79

Suzanne 11.09.16 at 3:52 am

From what we’ve seen so far, Trump is outperforming Romney among white voters, especially rural voters who’ve been hurt so much by the loss of industrial jobs (that’s sarcasm). So there were white folks waiting to come out of the woodwork for a candidate who would toss away the dog whistle. Win or lose tonight, the GOP belongs to Trumpism.

80

Sebastian H 11.09.16 at 7:21 am

Ugh, this is terrible. Trump wins? I feared that, but I didn’t let myself believe it was a real possibility.

On the ‘racist’ issue, the very narrow Trump victory clearly suggests that even if you believe that as many as 90% of Trump voters are completely and irredeemably racist, that still left more than enough contestable voters for Clinton to have won the election.

You don’t have to win over all of Trump’s voters, but it is apparent that writing all of them off and trusting ‘demographics’ to get you a win isn’t a great electoral strategy. Clinton lost Pennsylvania and let Trump get within striking distance of Michigan (as of my writing Trump has a slight edge there). Both of those states went strongly for Obama (a black candidate). Both of those states have been strongly hit by globalism over the past 30 years. Even if you don’t think that economic dislocation and worry is ‘the’ thing, it almost certainly was in play in those two key states.

81

nastywoman 11.09.16 at 8:20 am

– and perhaps we finally have new information in the story, one way or the other, about how much support Trump is in fact getting from workers?

‘One county in the Mahoning Valley of Ohio, Trumbull, went to Mr. Trump by a six-point margin. Four years ago, Mr. Obama won there by 22 points.’

– and I probably shouldn’t make a joke – but as supposedly comedy was the motivation for the Racist Birther to get into ‘politics’ -(Obamas deconstruction of Trump at the Correspondents Dinner of 2011) – let’s celebrate the United States of F…face von Clownstick…

82

Sebastian H 11.09.16 at 8:21 am

To be clearer: the question shouldn’t be “is the TYPICAL Trump voter racist”. The question should be “is the MARGINAL Trump voter racist”. I would say that there are plenty of marginal Trump voters who the Democratic Party could get without having to give in to bigots.

As a case in point, it appears that Trump won about 30% of the Latino vote in the state of Florida 538 cite. That alone should be enough to flip Florida which would have been enough for a Clinton win.

83

nastywoman 11.09.16 at 8:43 am

– but at least for every Californian – and the great outcome of the election on the beach – we easily can survive the next for years by staying in California and surfing and smoking a lot more…

84

J-D 11.09.16 at 8:53 am

That’s why it is always quite impressive how Obama anyhow seems to be able to suspect the problem.
As I’ve pointed out twice before, all candidates try to get the votes of workers, because if you don’t get the votes of any workers you can’t get elected. Since it’s something all campaigns try, there’s nothing special about Obama trying (just as there’s nothing special about Trump trying).

You get the emphasis wrong if you think that Obama was making a special effort to appeal to workers in Michigan; he was making a special effort to appeal to workers in Michigan, guessing or fearing that the result there could be close, as indeed it’s turned out to be.

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bruce wilder 11.09.16 at 9:07 am

I was wrong in my judgment about how the election would go.

For all the talk of the Republican Party breaking down and the quixotic need for a third party, it was the Democratic Party that destroyed itself. Now the quixotic task will be building a second party in a country dominated by an authoritarian Republican Party.

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Layman 11.09.16 at 7:17 pm

“As a case in point, it appears that Trump won about 30% of the Latino vote in the state of Florida…”

Something over a third of the Latino vote in Florida is Cuban. So that result isn’t remotely surprising. Romney actually won 39% of the Latino vote in Florida in 2012, so Trump underperformed.

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nastywoman 11.09.16 at 10:15 pm

@84
As the dispute kind of started with the question if Trump attracting significantly higher levels of support from workers than previous Republican candidates – and it was answered by the election result by Trump not only attracting significantly higher levels of support from workers than previous Republican candidates – but on top of it winning the whole Rust Belt – let’s finally agree on ‘Trump attracted a significantly higher level of support from workers than previous Republican candidates – at the whole Rust Belt’?

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