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The Democratic primary isn't anywhere as bitter as it looks online

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Sun 22 May, 2016 07:14 am
Early last month, Matt Yglesias wrote an article in Vox called The Bernie/Hillary Twitter wars tell us basically nothing about the real primary. The rise of Twitter, he wrote, "gives journalists like me quick and easy access to something it used to take hard legwork to get — direct and unmediated takes on the campaign from rank-and-file voters". It's great, you'd think: "We have constant, direct access to passionate supporters of candidates who aren't full-time professional political pundits, campaign operatives, or interest group leaders. It's a window into what voters really think."

Except that, he warned, it's all bunk:

Quote:
This turns out to be one of those scenarios where a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Twitter is not all that popular with the American people as a whole, and most people who use Twitter don't tweet much. Surveys show that most Americans don't talk about politics online at all. There is no reason to believe that the people who do argue about politics on Twitter are in any way a representative subset of people as a whole, and a mountain of evidence to suggest the opposite.

The overall result is that pundits watching their mentions are mainlining a deeply misleading view of the Democratic primary — one that features a passionate and bitter race that simply doesn't exist in the real world, complete with starkly polarized views on issues that don't exist among actual voters.


I think this is pretty much true for any online discussion of politics. It's definitely true for Daily Kos, where I come a lot because I love the wonky, detailed run-downs of downballot details in the Daily Kos Elections Live Digests. The rest of the site is basically a shitshow, full of primary pie fights that would make you believe that Bernie and Hillary supporters are pitted in the bitterest fight in a century and hate each other's guts, and that voters are outraged and passionate about things like a convention fight in Nevada or the latest offensive thing Jeff Weaver or Debbie Wasserman Schultz has said.

Yglesias cited a bunch of polling that showed that Sanders and Clinton supporters have fundamentally similar views about the main policy issues of the day and that their feelings about the other camp's candidate are at worst just kind of meh. But that polling is now almost two months old, and the fight's only gotten more bitter, right? Except that a new NY Times/CBS poll that was published just two days ago still showed that, at the very least, Democratic voters are much less divided than the Republican ones. A little less than half of Democrats feel their party is divided; 50% feel that it's united. Among Republicans, the feelings about their party are 84% divided, 14% united. When asked about the future of their party, a massive 80% of Democrats feels (mostly) hopeful, while just 17% feels (mostly) discouraged. Among Republicans the equivalent numbers are 55% an 43%.

Of Bernie supporters, 72% is saying that they would vote for Clinton in November - a number that will likely grow once the general election campaign heats up. If it nevertheless still sounds pretty weak, the Times reminds us that back in May 2008, a similar polling question "found that only 60 percent of Mrs. Clinton’s supporters said they would vote for Barack Obama in the general election". Of all Democrats, the further detail of the poll's data reveals, 83% is planning to support Clinton in November if she's the nominee, whether enthusiastically (44%), with reservations (23%) or begrudgingly (16%). The numbers for Sanders are very similar: 52% + 20% + 16% makes for 88% of all Democrats who would support him if he were the nominee. (In the Republican race, the total share of voters who is saying they will support Trump in the general election is similar as well, but the share of those who will do so enthusiastically is lower, at 37%, than for either Democratic candidate.)

There's more! According to the poll, 83% of Democrats think that Clinton will be able to unite the Democratic party if she's the nominee. (Compare that to the 68% who thinks the same of Sanders and the 64% of Republicans who think Trump will be able to unite the GOP). Two-thirds of Democrats think the process for selecting a Democratic nominee this year has been fair. Asked whether "the long race for the nomination" will help or hurt the Democrats in November, 59% of Democrats said it will help them, while 34% said it will hurt. That's a fairly stark contrast with the 2008 primary fight, when a majority of Democratic voters, at around this time in the race, said the long nomination fight would hurt the Democrats.

I've been tracking the exit poll data that might show the extent of distrust and resentment within the primary, and comparing it with the equivalent data from the 2008 primary between Clinton and Obama. There were no exit polls in Kentucky and Oregon last week (and apparently there will be no more exit polls in the rest of the race either), but at least up through the Indiana primary, they confirmed: the fallout this year has been much less. That's probably something for another post (or a follow-up comment) though, this is long enough as it is.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 10 • Views: 5,325 • Replies: 104

 
snood
 
  8  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2016 08:04 am
@nimh,
Excellent article nimh - thanks. This is a useful reminder for those of us (like me sometimes) who take what's said in these forums too seriously. It ain't necessarily the same as the real world.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  6  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2016 09:09 am
This seems like a relevant chart as well: there's a lot of people who vote in November but never even take part in the primaries, let alone follow all their bitter ins and outs.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Choh6cNWsAEJfXt.jpg
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2016 12:05 pm
@nimh,
I agree that this primary is not particularly contentious but do have my concerns that there is a sizable minority that are fed up with political gridlock and the "establishment" and that it is this phenomenon that is driving the surprising popularity of the Trump and Sanders campaigns. The general election might be such a surprise and Trump may bring a lot of new voters to the table while Hillary will struggle to do so (though she will certainly do well with traditional voters) as there is also a sizable minority that views her as the prototypical establishment politician.
realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2016 12:49 pm
Hey, Nimh, it's great to see you back on A2K.
snood
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2016 01:07 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
a sizable minority

Very nebulous - could mean anything.
And when we start parsing out how many people will actually vote for Hillary as opposed to Trump, estimates are going to start looking a lot different when the Democratic primary is over and all of Clinton's machine can be focused on beating him.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2016 01:46 pm
@snood,
Which of them are you referring to (I said it twice)? I think the antiestablishment sentiment one is very significant. I think it is the biggest factor in the elections so far that got Trump the GOP nomination and that is fueling Bernie who is still out fundraising Hillary. I think the Hillary one less so and really mostly a reflection of the first one since she can't position herself as antiestablishment.
snood
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2016 01:51 pm
@Robert Gentel,
It's a nebulous phrase generally, in my opinion. A sizable minority; A significant majority; an impressive collection...
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2016 01:54 pm
@snood,
Sure it's inherently not a precise term, but there's no denying that there is a significant groundswell of antiestablishment sentiment in this election despite it not being described in particularly precise terms.
snood
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2016 01:56 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Nope. No denying that. I think though, that whatever that number is does nothing to predict the amount of migration back to Hillary, once the conflagration of the Dem primary is over.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2016 04:00 pm
@realjohnboy,
Thanks! I have fond memories about your stories and anecdotes here.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  2  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2016 04:09 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Hmm.. I think that the Trump and Sanders campaigns both are expressions of a simmering, broader discontent with mainstream politics (and the way the economy is working out for middle and working class people), sure. But I don't see much of a chance that Trump will be the one to "bring a lot of new voters to the table" in this election.

He hasn't yet, so far: the voters he pulled into the GOP primary are mostly people who were voting Republican anyway, even if they didn't necessarily take part in primaries. An however successful he is in enthusing the anti-immigrant and racist voters, I think his grotesque human faults are such that he's ill-placed to benefit from the more amorphous, broader discontent with the status quo.

I really doubt, for example, that any significant percentage of Bernie voters will cross over to vote for Trump in November. (Yeah, there is a subgroup of Bernie voters who will: conservative Democrats who were probably going to vote for the Republican in the presidential race anyway, as they have done for a while now, but were barred from taking part in the Republican primary by closed or modified primary rules, and cast protest votes for Bernie instead. But that was a pretty localized phenomenon: West-Virginia, Oklahoma, the Florida panhandle..)
Lash
 
  0  
Reply Sun 22 May, 2016 04:48 pm
Other information about Hillary's prospects for success.

http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/king-why-im-leaving-the-democratic-party/

http://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-dem-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/04/sanders-supporters-not-vote-clinton-221642

http://www.vox.com/2016/5/18/11700148/bernie-or-bust-rally
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 May, 2016 04:00 am
American politics is going through a sea change. The D party is not the same.
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/05/2016-election-realignment-partisan-political-party-policy-democrats-republicans-politics-213909?cmpid=sf
I don't think the dust has settled yet.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 May, 2016 01:53 pm
Don't be so sure about your thesis.

BernieOrBust: Why 20 Percent of Sanders Supporters Say They Would Vote for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton

These clowns are prepared to destroy the nation in their sore loser petulance.
sozobe
 
  4  
Reply Mon 23 May, 2016 02:43 pm
@Setanta,
Except even more Hillary supporters were saying that at this point in the 2008 election.

Quote:
How worried would you be if, say, 28% of your rival’s supporters said they’d vote for the other party’s candidate? What if 35% of your rival’s supporters said they’d vote for the other party’s candidate or stay home?

That’s the situation that then-Senator Barack Obama found himself in during the 2008 presidential election, where May exit polls in Indiana had 50% of Hillary Clinton supporters saying they’d vote McCain or stay home. In March, Gallup had 28% of Clinton supporters voting for McCain instead of Obama. The same poll had 19% of Obama supporters who said they would vote for McCain over Hillary. By the time the primaries were over, CNN had 35% of Clinton supporters nationally saying they wouldn’t support Obama.

That election worked out fine for the Democrats, and they were starting with a much wider gulf, and likely a much less scary opponent.


Cites in original:

http://www.mediaite.com/online/how-bad-is-poll-that-says-25-of-bernie-sanders-fans-wont-vote-for-hillary/
snood
 
  2  
Reply Mon 23 May, 2016 02:51 pm
@sozobe,
That's my hope now - that they come around after Bernie does a reasonably convincing concession.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 May, 2016 02:59 pm
@snood,
Right. It won't be all of them, but likely to be a lot. I've seen it in action on Facebook; several friends who are saying "I love Bernie but c'mon guys, it's over. And Hillary is just fine."
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Mon 23 May, 2016 03:07 pm
@sozobe,
I'll just quote one of my friends who was until recently a very strong Bernie supporter since she says it better:

Quote:
This has got to end. Unite, dumbasses. I'm sorry. That's not the best way to get the party together. Let me try again...Unite, dumbasses. Damn it! I'm not helping. Ok. Seriously, lets find a way to come together and do what's best for our nation, and that is to unite, dumbasses. I suck at diplomacy.
Lash
 
  0  
Reply Mon 23 May, 2016 03:20 pm
@sozobe,
You should tell your friend that that won't hold water for all the independents who came in out of the cold for Bernie. There is a large percentage of indies that reject "party politics," so the "unite the party" talk is meaningless.

Don't know what the liberal wing of the Dem party might say, but PDiddie writes an incredible blog - and if his sentiments are an indicator, the legitimate libs are more interested in preserving democracy than ushering a neoliberal into office.

So, there's that.
 

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