Why They Support Trump

From RICHARD FERNANDEZ of PJ Media, Divided and Under Attack:

The effect of the short term (scandal talking points) game will not be to convert any great numbers, but to whip up their respective new coalitions, which are based principally on emotions. Reason has gone out the door and will not return any time soon. The result will be an increasing and shrill polarization. The short term game will increase political hostility to levels not seen since 1968; perhaps not since the Civil War.

Guess what…political pundits say this every four years. Every election it’s a new coalition, a new paradigm. Every election we bemoan the quality of candidates, the hostility of the political process, the partisanship, irrationality, and emotion…yet the world doesn’t come to an end. Eventually, we get through it.

Pundits overestimate the power of politics: the real power is in the fed, smart and productive people, consumer spending, and the private sector. People are quietly getting rich as stocks keep going up, as everyone else loses sleep over politics. The stock market has more than doubled since Obama became president – not because Obama is a good president (he isn’t) – but due the strength of the private sector, the economic contributions of America’s best and brightest, and the propensity of Americans (and the rest of the world) to consume.

That’s where we make our money… All your BS..’oh the economy is a bubble’…get out of here with that crap. You been wrong since 2009. Get lost.

‘Horse race’ is an apt metaphor for following the polls, which have pretty much been in a tight 10-point band for the past four or so months despite all the media hype of how ‘so-and-so is pulling ahead’..really, it’s just noise:

Like Brexit polls, it’s gonna be split down the middle up until a week before the voting, and all this micro-analysis, minutia, and hair-splitting will be for naught. No matter how much you scrutinize the candidates or how bad or good a candidate is, it’s still going to be roughly 45-48% of the country that will support either candidate. The outcome of the remaining 6%, comes down, essentially, to a coin toss. There’s little rhyme or reason to predicting it. I remember the night of the Brexit polls, and everyone was certain ‘remain’ would win – before the counting had even begun. So much for that. I can say ‘Hillary is persuasive’ or ‘Trump is persuasive’ but 95-98% of the country are gonna vote for them anyway, so big deal. The real ‘skill’ of a campaign or a candidate is getting those 5-10% on the fence.

National sentiment is also important. In 1984 and 1996, probably no amount of charisma and persuasion would have saved Mondale and Dole, because the economy was strong and there was no upheaval, so people voted for a continuation of what had worked. If the economy suddenly implodes and America is struck with another major terror attack like 911, then the odds will probably suddenly shift significantly and meaningfully in Trump’s favor.

IS IT JUST ME, OR IS THE WORLD GOING CRAZY?

Maybe Trump and his supporters may seem ‘crazy’, but pundits are missing the point.

What struck me the most was this constant narrative that somehow the world has become this insane and dangerous place and we need somebody to take charge and make everything “safe” and “secure” for us again. At one point there was even a gigantic projection of the words, “Make America Safe Again” at the back of the stage.

The author is right in this regard, but although the United States is doing well according to a wide variety of metrics (steady GDP growth, booming stock market, low inflation, low violence, low crime, clean water, low infant mortality, etc.), many average Americans may not be fully participating in the process (or at least not as much as they felt they were in the 80′s and 90′s), or they feel ignored or sighted by the establishment, subjected to economic and social forces outside of their control. They perceive policy makers as showing more deference to either immigrants or moneyed elites than to just average citizens. Being patronizing (poor ol’ crazy Trump supporters too blinded by ideology and anger to know what’s good for them) , as the author seems to be, isn’t going to help his cause. Many people are simply tired of an unmovable status quo that seems to be stacked against them. Right now, there is a crisis affecting poor white Americans, that the media is largely ignoring.

A common argument is that Trump supporters are blinded by ideology.

This inattention to empirical evidence works both ways (for example, that some Trump supporter believe that world is dying, or the ‘left’ believing there is a ‘war on blacks’ by police or a campus ‘rape epidemic’, etc. ). I subscribe to the Bryan Caplan view that most voters are irrational by not knowing what is good for them (in the economic sense of the word ‘rational’) and are misinformed, but it’s better to find ‘common ground’ and ‘shared narratives‘ than to belittle or patronize those with whom we disagree with. Instead of getting mad at them or mocking them for being misinformed, try to understand why they think the way they do, and then try to find common agreement, and then maybe fix the source of disagreement.

It’s also easy to fall into the trap of overgeneralizing.

There are many Trump supporters who are optimistic about the economy and don’t subscribe to a ‘doom and gloom’ worldview, an example being Mike Cernovich, who is both a Trump supporter and an optimist. They support Trump because he’s better than the alternatives, for example, not because these voters want to bring about the ‘end times’, are delusional, or are bitter about the world. I fall into this category. Despite being an economic optimist, I support Trump over Hillary or Sanders even though I don’t agree with Trump on everything.

Of course, ‘tribal identity’ play a major role too. Many people support candidate ‘x’ because he or she is not ‘y’ – and vice versa – without having a deep understanding of the issues. This is probably 75% (a guesstimate) of the total pool of voters. Maybe another 15% are swayed by specific issues more so than party loyalty and may defect under certain circumstances. And the remaining 10% are on the fence, and have no preexisting party loyalty. This 5-10% figure agrees with polls from the 2012 presidential election:

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