One clear lesson from the elections of 2016 and 2018 is that President Trump and his fellow Republican candidates win where white voters are losing ground.
Take a look at the 2018 congressional results in the upper Midwest and Pennsylvania, states that provided the Electoral College votes crucial to Trump’s capture of the White House.
John C. Austin, the director of the Michigan Economic Center and a senior fellow at Brookings, analyzed economic trends in 15 congressional districts that changed hands last year — 12 from Republican to Democrat, three from Democrat to Republican — in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa.
Austin found a striking pattern. In the majority of districts that went from Republican to Democrat:
Residents had incomes higher than statewide medians, as well as higher educational attainment — in most places by considerable margins. Conversely, in the three districts that moved from blue to red, incomes and educational attainment lagged statewide figures.
The accompanying graphic reveals the extent to which economic considerations shaped the outcome in these districts.
The same general pattern emerged in state after state in the recent midterms.
In September 2018, Siobhan Hughes and Dante Chinni of The Wall Street Journal took the 70 congressional races ranked as most competitive by the Cook Political Report. They then ranked the races on the basis of an “economic-health index created by the Institute of International Finance.”
Of the ten districts ranked highest on economic health, eight were categorized “lean Republican” by the Cook Political Report, and two “lean Democrat.” Before the November election, nine of those 10 seats were held by Republicans.
On Election Day, Democrats carried eight out of 10 of these districts.
Mark Muro and Jacob Whiton, both of Brookings, worked with John Harwood of CNBC to analyze Democratic and Republican-held congressional districts in the aftermath of the 2018 election. Their conclusions reinforce the findings of Austin, Hughes and Chinni.
The key result: the 20 most prosperous districts are now held by Democrats, while Republicans represent 16 of the 20 least prosperous, measured by share of G.D.P. The accompanying chart illustrates their analysis.
The authors’ calculation of the contribution to the G.D.P. of every congressional district showed that Democratic districts produce .2 trillion of the nation’s goods and services and Republican districts .2 trillion.
This trend creates a significant dilemma for Trump and the Republican Party. Candidates on the right do best during hard times and in recent elections, they have gained the most politically in regions experiencing the sharpest downturn. Electorally speaking, in other words, Republicans profit from economic stagnation and decline.
Let’s return to John Austin of the Michigan Economic Center. In an email he describes this unusual situation succinctly: “A rising economic tide tends to sink the Trump tugboat,” adding
“Certainly more people and communities that are feeling abandoned, not part of a vibrant economy means more fertile ground for the resentment politics and ‘blaming others’ for people’s woes (like immigrants and people of color) that fuel Trump’s supporters.”
In June 2017, Austin demonstrated the importance of struggling white communities to the Republican Party. His study of the 2016 presidential results in the Midwest showed how strong turnout among voters in regions facing economic deterioration can help Republicans. In that earlier report, Austin wrote:
The small- and medium-sized factory towns that dot the highways and byways of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin have lost their anchor employers and are struggling to fill the void. Many of these communities, including once solidly Democratic-voting, union-heavy, blue collar strongholds, flipped to Trump in 2016.
This pattern is not limited to the United States. There are numerous studies demonstrating that European and British voters who are falling behind in the global economy, and who were hurt by the 2008 recession and the subsequent cuts to the welfare state, drove Brexit as well as the rise of right-wing populist parties.
One paper, “Measuring the Effects of Economic Austerity on Pro-Sociality: Evidence from Greece,” by Nicholas Sambanis, Anna Schultz and Elena Nikolova, political scientists at Penn, Duke and University College London, found, for example,
A strong relationship between job loss and decreased generalized solidarity. We find evidence of in-group bias and the bias becomes more pronounced due to exposure to austerity policies.
In a July 2018 paper, “Did Austerity Cause Brexit?” Thiemo Fetzer, an economist at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, argues that austerity policies adopted in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse were crucial both to voter support for the right-wing populist party UKIP in Britain and to voter approval of Brexit.
These political movements “are strongly and causally associated with an individual’s or an area’s exposure to austerity since 2010,” Fetzer writes. Examination of economic trends, welfare policy and polling data shows, according to Fetzer, that
the EU referendum (Brexit) could have resulted in a Remain victory had it not been for a range of austerity-induced welfare reforms. These reforms activated existing economic grievances. Further, auxiliary results suggest that the underlying economic grievances have broader origins than what the current literature on Brexit suggests. Up until 2010, the UK’s welfare state evened out growing income differences across the skill divide through transfer payments. This pattern markedly stops from 2010 onward as austerity started to bite.
There are significant parallels between voting patterns for and against Brexit and the patterns in the 2016 and 2018 elections in this country.
In a separate 2017 paper, “Who Voted For Brexit,” Fetzer and two fellow economists at the University of Warwick, Sascha O. Becker and Dennis Novy, found that “in particular, fiscal cuts in the context of the recent U.K. austerity program are strongly associated with a higher Vote Leave share.” This held
all across the board: more deprivation is tightly associated with a larger Vote Leave share or, vice versa; less deprivation is tightly associated with a lower Vote Leave share.
The results here and in England reinforce the conclusion that the worse things get, the better the right does.
As a rule, as economic conditions improve and voters begin to feel more secure, they become more generous and more liberal. In the United States, this means that voters move to the left; in Britain, it means voters are stronger in their support for staying in the European Union.
In his forthcoming book, “Democratic Capitalism at the Crossroads: Technological Change and the Future of Politics” Carles Boix, a political scientist at Princeton, describes how postwar prosperity from 1945 to the mid-1970s led to a liberal international consensus:
In light of the historical experience of advanced countries, embracing the program of embedded liberalism made economic and political sense. Twentieth-century democratic capitalism had proved to be both successful and resilient: it had delivered high growth; it had allowed governments to fund generous social programs; and it had sent its main political and economic competitor — communism — to the ash heap of history.
As global competition, outsourcing and later, automation, began to produce significant economic disruption, beginning in the 1970s, this liberal consensus frayed.
The structure of electoral participation became strongly polarized across the Atlantic — very much in line with the economic transformations brought about by the decline of industry and by globalization in the last forty years.
In the United States, economic adversity helped produce Trump, whose inaugural speech (reportedly the handiwork of Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller) Boix cites as emblematic of the hostility emerging with the fall of liberalism:
For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left. And the factories closed. The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now.
Together, the trends described above raise an intriguing question: If the Republican Party now depends on the votes of those who are falling behind, does the party have a vested interest in economic stagnation and decline?
I asked scholars and officials at the Niskanen Center — a Washington think tank that recently received favorable coverage for its efforts to resolve contemporary ideological division — whether they thought the Republican Party has come to recognize that prosperity helps Democrats, while economic adversity engenders hostility to immigrants, resentment of liberal elites and animosity among rural voters toward urban America. Does this awareness give politicians on the right a motive to support policies and actions that foster government dysfunction and further impair sections of the country that are in decline?
Jerry Taylor, president of Niskanen, replied to my inquiry by making the case that “as conservatives see it, the more visible government dysfunction is, the better. It provides civic education.”
Working from this premise, Taylor argued that as far as conservatives go,
anything that dispels the illusion that government can be harnessed for positive ends is generally a good thing, and anything that reduces its power and scope is a salutary development.
Taylor disputed the suggestion that “Republicans consciously or unconsciously labor to frustrate economic growth in rural white America.” Instead, he said, they are ideologically committed to the belief that economic growth is
only reliably ensured when government is minimized, taxes are nearly inconsequential, and free markets and property rights are given the greatest scope possible. Marry that with their belief that a rising economic tide will lift all boats, and you can quickly see why they’re at a loss to explain what’s going on in rural America.
Will Wilkinson, the center’s vice president for research, wrote back to me:
The G.O.P.’s success in struggling places has given them a false impression that voters who live there will stay faithful as long as they keep feeding them culture-war chum. Trump’s populism offered a false but compelling diagnosis of their economic problems, immigrants and insufficiently protectionist trade policy, which dovetails neatly with rural white anxieties about declining cultural status and relative political power. If you can align threats to identity with threats to material security, as Trump did, it’s pretty powerful.
But, in actual practice moving from campaigning to governing, Wilkinson continued, Trump’s
trade war is positively hurting agriculture and manufacturing, and every Republican member of congress has voted multiple times to strip away health benefits — leaving ‘identity threat’ as the party’s last resort.
What’s more, Wilkinson noted,
Identity threat — ‘I don’t recognize this country anymore’ — is very abstract compared to material threat — ‘my daughter with leukemia will die if they don’t cover pre-existing conditions’ — and far less motivating. And the argument that the G.O.P. establishment itself has become a threat to economic/material welfare has started to become persuasive.
This has put the Republican Party in a painful position, according to Wilkinson:
It’s going to get worse for the G.O.P. as the urgency of the economic problems grows. But they just don’t understand that pushing the same button over and over isn’t going to have the same effect. And this is so in part because they don’t really want to see the seriousness of economic divergence, because they have no idea what to do about it that is remotely consistent with Zombie Reagan social policy dogma.
Brink Lindsey, vice president for policy, replied to my queries from a somewhat different angle: “You don’t need conscious intent to produce dysfunction to explain Republican governance failures.”
In Lindsey’s view,
it starts in ideological self-delusion — that government is simply incapable of performing well, so starving it of funds is always a good idea and trying to make it work better is a waste of time. The problem starts there, as I said, but it doesn’t end there, as these attitudes can very easily merge into cynical, lazy indifference to public administration and onward to outright venality and corruption. And, of course, this ideological stance turns out to be incredibly convenient for rich donors looking for any excuse to keep their taxes down.
This is not, according to Lindsey,
a conspiracy, but rather a rotten equilibrium. Lack of trust in government brings charlatans to power, further reducing trust in government and widening the path to power for future charlatans.
In addition to the Mueller investigation, there are two major factors that will determine the sustainability of the Republican Party’s “rotten equilibrium.”
The first, of course, is Trump himself. His victory in 2016 was a charlatan’s ascent, and his presidency has served to sustain distrust in government — fuel, in one sense, for the continued success of charlatans. For the moment, though, his failure to win money for the border wall has punctured his viability as a governing force.
Trump’s second, if less heralded, achievement has been to invigorate the Democratic opposition. He has inspired an immense, rambunctious, intensely motivated and exceptionally diverse pack of candidates — some prepared, some less so, to dislodge him from the White House.
I invite you to follow me on Twitter, @Edsall.
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当天报八句输尽光【那】【一】【群】【人】，【又】【倒】【下】【了】【一】【片】！ 【第】【三】【波】【人】【又】【冲】【了】【上】【来】，【就】【在】【锦】【薰】【打】【算】【如】【法】【炮】【制】【的】【时】【候】，【一】【道】【声】【音】【蓦】【然】【从】【她】【身】【后】【响】【起】，“【薰】【儿】，【不】【要】！” 【锦】【薰】【微】【愣】。 【白】【千】【辰】【回】【来】【了】？ 【她】【连】【忙】【扭】【头】【去】【看】！ 【就】【在】【这】【时】，【一】【柄】【剑】【刺】【穿】【了】【她】【心】【口】！ 【鲜】【血】【流】【了】【出】【来】。 【染】【红】【了】【她】【白】【色】【的】【衣】【襟】。 【那】【人】【猛】【的】【收】【回】【剑】，【那】【一】【刹】【那】
【苏】【尔】【祖】【很】【快】【恢】【复】【了】【镇】【定】，【按】【道】【理】【来】【说】【不】【应】【该】【的】，【白】【瑞】【纶】【的】【意】【识】【是】【被】【苏】【尔】【祖】**【了】，【而】【不】【是】【沉】【睡】！ 【自】【己】【的】【灵】【魂】【力】【量】【远】【强】【于】【白】【瑞】【纶】，【在】【自】【己】【的】**【下】【白】【瑞】【纶】【保】【持】【意】【志】【的】【清】【醒】【都】【没】【有】【可】【能】，【但】【是】【白】【瑞】【纶】【刚】【刚】【确】【实】【短】【短】【的】【掌】【握】【回】【了】【身】【体】，【说】【出】【了】【一】【句】：“【那】【加】【上】【我】【呢】？” 【是】【灵】【魂】【特】【殊】【吗】？ 【苏】【尔】【祖】【首】【先】【排】【除】【了】【宝】【物】【的】【原】
【江】【川】【二】【话】【没】【说】，【抬】【起】【手】【掌】【迎】【接】【毁】【灭】【之】【球】【的】【到】【来】。 “【想】【用】【硬】【接】【我】【的】【毁】【灭】【之】【球】，【不】【自】【量】【力】！” 【泉】【姐】【冷】【笑】【一】【声】。 【轰】……！ 【一】【个】【十】【米】【直】【径】【的】【毁】【灭】【之】【球】【即】【将】【爆】【炸】【之】【际】。 “【消】【失】！” 【江】【川】【口】【中】【吐】【出】【两】【字】，【手】【掌】【猛】【然】【一】【握】，【牵】【动】【周】【围】【天】【地】【能】【量】，【毁】【灭】【之】【球】【一】【颤】，【然】【后】【被】【极】【度】【压】【缩】。 【最】【后】【变】【成】【一】【个】【绿】【豆】【大】【小】
【他】【迅】【速】【点】【了】【一】【堆】【菜】。 【全】【都】【是】【适】【合】【姜】【洛】【离】【这】【个】【孕】【妇】【吃】【的】。 【然】【后】【姜】【洛】【离】【就】【发】【现】，【墨】【时】【修】【点】【的】【那】【些】【菜】【全】【都】【是】【她】【平】【时】【比】【较】【爱】【吃】【的】。 【他】【自】【己】【喜】【欢】【吃】【的】，【他】【一】【个】【没】【点】。 【而】【且】【因】【为】【她】【孕】【期】【胃】【口】【变】【得】【比】【较】【挑】【剔】，【很】【多】【以】【前】【能】【吃】【的】【东】【西】【现】【在】【都】【不】【能】【吃】【了】。 【反】【而】【是】【喜】【欢】【吃】【一】【些】【稀】【奇】【古】【怪】【的】【东】【西】。 【那】【些】【东】【西】【她】【会】【觉】【得】【好】当天报八句输尽光“【都】【给】【我】……【住】【手】！” 【脸】【色】【奇】【差】【的】【假】【塞】【西】【莉】【亚】【没】【考】【虑】【多】【久】，【便】【立】【即】【做】【出】【了】【选】【择】：“【所】【有】【人】……【在】【没】【有】【我】【命】【令】【的】【情】【况】【下】，【一】【概】【不】【允】【许】【行】【动】！”【或】【许】【是】【她】【现】【在】【对】“【应】【如】【是】【们】”【拥】【有】【绝】【对】【控】【制】【权】【的】【缘】【故】，【此】【话】【一】【出】，【所】【有】【假】【应】【如】【是】【都】【收】【敛】【住】【了】【魔】【力】，【一】【个】【个】【像】【是】【被】【拆】【了】【发】【条】【的】【机】【械】，【一】【动】【不】【动】【地】【站】【在】【了】【原】【地】。 “【你】【居】【然】
“【那】【我】【们】【该】【怎】【么】【处】【理】【这】【东】【西】？”【莉】【莉】【问】【出】【了】【一】【个】【极】【为】【关】【键】【的】【问】【题】，【总】【不】【能】【因】【为】【那】【血】【月】【可】【能】【几】【倍】【一】【定】【的】【意】【识】，【就】【真】【的】【放】【着】【不】【管】【那】【东】【西】【了】【吧】，【怎】【么】【说】【都】【是】【这】【次】【战】【斗】【的】【战】【力】【品】。 “【当】【然】【是】【继】【续】【想】【办】【法】【了】？【莉】【莉】，【你】【那】【边】【有】【什】【么】【办】【法】【没】【有】？” “【我】【能】【有】【什】【么】【办】【法】？” “【那】【莉】【莉】【感】【知】【下】【这】【东】【西】【的】【情】【况】。”【布】【鲁】【斯】【知】【道】【自】
【何】【其】【芳】【就】【是】【这】【几】【天】【的】【日】【子】，【李】【文】【在】【接】【到】【电】【话】【的】【时】【候】，【又】【一】【次】【跟】【程】【大】【爷】【请】【了】【假】。 【书】【店】【的】【事】【陈】【予】【砜】【丢】【给】【了】【胡】【古】，【已】【经】【是】【七】【月】【初】【的】【日】【子】，【也】【是】【夏】【天】【最】【热】【的】【时】【候】。 【李】【文】【在】【赶】【到】【医】【院】【的】【时】【候】，【他】【妈】【妈】【已】【经】【被】【推】【倒】【了】【病】【房】。 【是】【个】【女】【孩】。 【病】【房】【里】【聚】【满】【了】【夏】【志】【豪】【这】【边】【的】【亲】【戚】，【李】【文】【垫】【了】【垫】【脚】【尖】【还】【是】【放】【弃】【了】【要】【凑】【过】【去】。