The Forgotten Country
One element that never ceases to astonish me in this 2016 Presidential cycle is the great increase in voters’ participation.
A simple reading can be made of what has happened up to now in the Republican camp: whilst a part of the traditional Republican electorate is certainly angry, disillusioned and in open revolt (largely and loosely: the “Tea Party” component of it), the revolt keeps being fueled by a seemingly vast number of people who used not to vote, and are now going back to the ballot box en masse.
This would also explain why the polls (even those in good faith) used to pretty consistently underestimate Trump: it is difficult to know who is going to vote again after a long time, and the “likely voters” forecast models of the polling agencies must struggle to adjust to a new reality for which there are no recent comparisons.
What I think is happening is this: an entire section of the electorate, those who had been marginalised by the policies of the last twenty years or more and had therefore become disaffected and unrepresented – and therefore did not vote, not believing in the willingness of the traditional parties to represent them – has now awoken, and is coming back to the polling booth with a vengeance.
They are the forgotten Country. Those so despised by the educated political class, disparagingly branded in various way as “rednecks”, “low education workforce”, and the like. Those who feel the sting of the Chinese and Mexican competition in the manufacturing industry on one side; and the nannies, the gardeners, the cleaning ladies in some Southern states, who feel the direct competition of a low-wage, low-rights, easily exploited workforce on the other.
It is easy to be for free trade if you are an IT consultant, a teacher, a banker, a qualified employee of any sort. But you are forgetting how many all the others are. Everyone in Washington did the same for many years.
These voters are mainly Whites, and surely many of them used to be Democrats. But they are – the reds as well as the blues – impervious to the liberal mantra of the White Guilt, and not interested at all in Hillary’s “Black lives count” rhetoric. They are many millions. They are not at ease about their future. Hillary has nothing to offer to them. Trump, an awful lot. They don’t follow the rules of Political Correctness. You call them “racists”, it does not even register. They will vote Trump with more gusto.
It is like a seaquake. This big mass has suddenly emerged from the depth in which it had confined itself, and is now creating a wave that might well destroy the GOP as we know it. The Forgotten Country has found a hero, and – it pains me to say it – this hero is not Cruz, whose classical free trade ideology alienates them to him.
If you ask me, the difference is the “forgotten Country”. Plus, you have to add a possibly big number of “Trump Democrats”, who will now switch their allegiance to Trump because… he truly speaks to them, addresses their fears, gives them a message they want to see implemented. If memory serves, Whites (excluding Hispanics) are still around 65%-70% of the Country. Already in this demographic there is enough potential to bury Hillary under a landslide of oh-so-despised “low education” votes. It seems to me the “educated” journalists’ class still hasn’t got the memo.
Put the two together – the former non-voters, and the former Dem voters – and the figures we read around (primaries turnout increased by 100%, 200%, 300%!) start to make more sense.
We see this happening in other ways, too. Cruz performs better in closed primaries, because his grip is stronger among those who already voted. But Trump can regularly tap (and this is only the beginning!) into a massive reservoir of votes that were just not there, at least not for every Republican candidate since, probably, Reagan.
Plus, ask yourself: how many of the Sanders voters feel more ideologically near to Trump than to Clinton? 10%? 15%? It does not need to be a huge number. Flip two million the other side and Hillary is cooked. Sanders may not work for Cruz, but he works for Trump, stirring a discontent that will bring more water to Trump’s mill.
It is a mystery to me how the scale of what is happening is not noticed from the MSM. They keep repeating the same old mantras of the same old world: Hillary will win, because she is more “mainstream” than Trump. They say so (even if they are in good faith) because they think that the voters are a given number, a known entity, a closed circuit. It is not so. Trump a) is literally creating a new electorate out of nothing, and b) he will steal a lot of White, “low education” Democratic votes from Hillary in addition to that. Plus, notwithstanding all the “black lives matter” rhetoric, I very much doubt Hillary will manage to mobilise the Black electorate – the prime “votes against handouts” electoral reservoir of the Democrats – the same way The First Melanin President did.
A Forgotten Country is emerging in this 2016 context. It is angry, and it is saying it out loud.
If you ask me, it has the potential to swamp and utterly wipe out the old logic of Washington politics.