“Which brings me to the recent midterms, which offered a natural experiment in the race-versus-economics question — because, as president, Trump has been more plutocratic than populist on many issues, even as he has kept up the tribalist provocations and, just before the midterms, used the migrant caravan as an excuse for race-baiting.
If the Obama-Trump voters were primarily motivated by racial anxiety, you would expect his approach to consolidate them for the G.O.P. — especially with a strong economy, with the Democrats putting up lots of minority candidates, and so on.
But white identity politics failed to hold Trump’s gains. Some of the biggest swings against the G.O.P. were among middle and lower-income Americans, not just among affluent suburbanites. The Upper Midwest swung back toward Democrats. And among whites without college degrees, Democrats improved on Hillary Clinton’s showing by eight percentage points — identical to their gains among college-educated whites. …”
This is a poor take.
The White Right has traditionally been skeptical of the GOP. The 2016 election was an exception to the rule because Trump was a unique candidate who ran on racial and economic populism. He adopted our positions on trade, immigration and foreign policy to bulldoze over conservative candidates.
Two years later, President Trump has failed to deliver on either his racial populist or economic populist messages. He passed a massive permanent tax cut for the wealthy. He signed banking deregulation. He didn’t change our foreign policy. He didn’t build the wall. He hasn’t deported millions of illegal aliens. He hasn’t delivered on “law and order.” Instead, he delivered a bunch of “True Conservative” policies for wealthy and Jewish donors which voters don’t care much about.
The fact that Sheldon Adelson and Steve Schwarzman were at Trump’s side watching the midterm election results in the White House personifies why the GOP lost the midterms. The party has shown little interest in catering to either its base or swing voters. While Trump dog whistled hard about immigration in the last month of election season, it was utterly implausible.
If anything is true, the midterm results would have been much worse if Trump had not appealed to White identity politics. He was able to convince a large swath of voters to give the GOP a second chance in spite of its record on immigration. He lost the voters who were disappointed by his failure to deliver on his promises on both the racial populism and economic populism fronts.
It wasn’t reasonable to expect the White Right would consolidate behind the GOP after the Charlottesville Resolution which blamed us exclusively for what happened there, the failure to do anything about Anitfa, the prosecution of RAM and especially after the loss of free speech on the internet. No one should be surprised that the enthusiasm of 2016 had completely vanished after the last two years. Even if we had wanted to support the GOP, internet censorship took away our means to do so.
The real story of the 2018 midterms is that voters don’t care about the policies that the GOP keeps delivering. Blacks and Hispanics did not care about record unemployment. The tax cut is unpopular. “Rebuilding the military” went over with a big eye roll. No one cares about moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and all this “pro-Israel” stuff except Sheldon Adelson. Even Jews don’t care about it who turned out to vote for the Democrats in larger numbers than in 2014.
In one sentence, promising one thing to voters while selling the policies to donors is a trick that didn’t work twice. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.