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trump symposium iii: social science and trump

In this third installment of the Trump symposium, I want to talk about how social scientists should think about Trump. Let’s start with prediction – who foresaw Trump? We need to make a distinction.

So what should a social scientist do?

  • Start with the following mantra: Social science is about trends and averages, rarely about specific cases. If an outsider becomes a major party nominee once, then you can cling to the old theory. If you get three Trumps in a row, then it’s time to dump the Party Decides model, unless, of course, you see the party openly embrace Trump and he becomes the new establishment.
  • Feel confident: One crazy case doesn’t mean that you dump all results. For example, polling still worked pretty well. Polls showed a Trump rise and, lo and behold, Trump won the nomination. Also, polls are in line with basic models of presidential elections where economic trends set the baseline. The economy is ok, which means the incumbent party has an advantage. Not surprisingly, polls show the Democratic nominee doing well.
  • Special cases: Given that most things in this election are “normal,” it’s ok to make a special argument about an unusual event. Here, I’d say that Trump broke the “Party Decides” model because he is an exceptionally rare candidate who doesn’t need parties. Normally, political parties wield power because politicians don’t have money or name recognition. In contrast, Trump has tons of money and a great media presence. He is a rare candidate who can just bypass the whole system, especially when other candidates are weak.

What does the future hold? Some folks have been raising the alarms about a possible Trump win. So far, there is little data to back it up. In the rolling Real Clear Politics average of polls, Trump is consistently behind. In state polls, he is behind. He has no money. He has not deployed a “ground game.”In fact, the RCP average has had Clinton 2 ahead of Trump every single day since October with the exception of the GOP convention and about two of the worst days of the Democratic campaign. Is it possible that Trump will be rescued by a sudden wave of support from White voters? Maybe, but we haven’t seen any movement in this direction. A betting person would bet against Trump.

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Written by fabiorojas

September 1, 2016 at 12:44 am

2 Responses

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  1. Some sociologists who research the Tea Party and US political parties (e.g. Braunstein, de Leon, Perrin) have already written some insightful sociological pieces on Trump, back in February, on the PPST blogpages. I’d be curious to hear your reactions. Check them out: http://www.politicalpowerandsocialtheory.com/#!trumpery/kmvkl

    Like

    juliango1

    September 3, 2016 at 4:35 pm

  2. Let’s ignore the elitist view. Here is the Trump story plain and clear.
    This is from The New Yorker–a very unabashedly, liberal publication. The author is the political correspondent for Bloomberg and wrote extensively about Obama even before he was nominated.

    “Who is Donald Trump?” The better question may be, “What is Donald Trump?”
    The answer? A giant middle finger from average Americans to the political and media establishment.

    Some Trump supporters are like the 60s white girls who dated black guys just to annoy their parents. But most Trump supporters have simply had it with the Demo-socialists and the “Republicans In Name Only.” They know there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between Hillary Rodham and Jeb Bush, and only a few cents worth between Rodham and the other GOP candidates.

    Ben Carson is not an “establishment” candidate, but the Clinton machine would pulverize Carson ; and the somewhat rebellious Ted Cruz will (justifiably so) be tied up with natural born citizen lawsuits (as might Marco Rubio). The Trump supporters figure they may as well have some fun tossing Molotov cocktails at Wall Street and Georgetown while they watch the nation collapse. Besides – lightning might strike, Trump might get elected, and he might actually fix a few things. Stranger things have happened ( Bruce Jenner now wears designer dresses.)

    Millions of conservatives are justifiably furious. They gave the Republicans control of the House in 2010 and control of the Senate in 2014, and have seen them govern no differently than Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Yet those same voters are supposed to trust the GOP in 2016? Why?

    Trump did not come from out of nowhere. His candidacy was created by the last six years of Republican failures.

    No reasonable person can believe that any of the establishment candidates [dems or reps] will slash federal spending, rein in the Federal Reserve, cut burdensome business regulations, reform the tax code, or eliminate useless federal departments (the Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, Energy, etc.).
    Even Ronald Reagan was unable to eliminate the Department of Education. (Of course, getting shot at tends to make a person less of a risk-taker.) No reasonable person can believe that any of the nation’s major problems will be solved by Rodham, Bush, and the other dishers of donkey fazoo now eagerly eating corn in Iowa and pancakes in New Hampshire .

    Many Americans, and especially Trump supporters, have had it with:
    with:
    · Anyone named Bush
    · Anyone named Clinton
    · Anyone who’s held political office
    · Political correctness
    · Illegal immigration
    · Massive unemployment
    · Phony “official” unemployment and inflation figures
    · Welfare waste and fraud
    · People faking disabilities to go on the dole
    · VA waiting lists
    · ObamaCare
    · The Federal Reserve’s money-printing schemes
    · Wall Street crooks like Jon Corzine
    · Michelle Obama’s food police
    · Barack Obama’s arrogant and condescending lectures
    · Barack Obama’s criticism/hatred of America
    · ” Holiday trees”
    · Hollywood hypocrites
    · Cop killers
    · Gun confiscation threats
    · Stagnant wages
    · Boys in girls’ bathrooms
    · Whiny, spoiled college students who can’t even place the Civil War in the correct century… and that’s just the short list.
    ________________________________________

    Trump supporters believe that no Democrat wants to address these issues, and that few Republicans have the courage to address these issues. They certainly know that none of the establishment candidates are better than barely listening to them, and Trump is their way of saying, “Screw you, Hillary Rodham Rove Bush!” The more the talking head political pundits insult the Trump supporters, the more supporters he gains. (The only pundits who seem to understand what is going on are Democrats Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell and Republican John LeBoutillier. All the others argue that the voters will eventually “come to their senses” and support an establishment candidate.)

    But America does not need a tune-up at the same old garage. It needs a new engine installed by experts – and neither Rodham nor Bush are mechanics with the skills or experience to install it. Hillary Rodham is not a mechanic; she merely manages a garage her philandering husband abandoned. Jeb Bush is not a mechanic; he merely inherited a garage. Granted, Trump is also not a mechanic, but he knows where to find the best ones to work in his garage. He won’t hire his brother-in-law or someone to whom he owes a favor; he will hire someone who lives and breathes cars.
    “How dare they revolt!” the “elites” are bellowing. Well, the citizens are daring to revolt, and the RINOs had better get used to it. “But Trump will hand the election to Clinton !” That is what the Karl Rove-types want people to believe, just as the leftist media eagerly shoved “Maverick” McCain down GOP throats in 2008 – knowing he would lose to Obama. But even if Trump loses and Rodham wins, she would not be dramatically different than Bush or most of his fellow candidates. They would be nothing more than caretakers, not working to restore America ‘s greatness but merely presiding over the collapse of a massively in-debt nation. A nation can perhaps survive open borders; a nation can perhaps survive a generous welfare system. But no nation can survive both – and there is little evidence that the establishment candidates of either party understand that. The United States cannot forever continue on the path it is on. At some point it will be destroyed by its debt.

    Yes, Trump speaks like a bull wander[ing] through a china shop, but the truth is that the borders do need to be sealed; we cannot afford to feed, house, and clothe 200,000 Syrian immigrants for decades (even if we get inordinately lucky and none of them are ISIS infiltrators or Syed Farook wannabes); the world is at war with radical Islamists.

    Is Trump the perfect candidate? Of course not. Neither was Ronald Reagan. But unless we close our borders and restrict immigration, all the other issues are irrelevant. One terrorist blowing up a bridge or a tunnel could kill thousands. One jihadist poisoning a city’s water supply could kill tens of thousands. One electromagnetic pulse attack from a single Iranian nuclear device could kill tens of millions. Faced with those possibilities, most Americans probably don’t care that Trump relied on eminent domain to grab up a final quarter acre of property for a hotel. While Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s greatest fear is someone giving a Muslim a dirty look, most Americans are more worried about being gunned down at a shopping mall by a crazed [Islamic] lunatic who treats his prayer mat better than his three wives and who thinks 72 virgins are waiting for him in paradise.

    The establishment is frightened to death that Trump will win, but not because they believe he will harm the nation. They are afraid he will upset their taxpayer-subsidized apple carts. While Obama threatens to veto legislation that spends too little, they worry that Trump will veto legislation that spends too much.

    You can be certain that if an establishment candidate wins in November 2016 … [their] cabinet positions will be filled with the same people we’ve seen before. The washed-up has-beens of the Clinton and Bush administrations will be back in charge. The hacks from Goldman Sachs will continue to call the shots. Whether it is Bush’s Karl Rove or Clinton ‘s John Podesta, who makes the decisions in the White House will matter little.

    If the establishment wins, America loses

    Like

    ccree

    September 15, 2016 at 9:38 am


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