WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE: Amanda Marcotte spots the racists!


Part 3—They supported Obama last time:
Those People! Why did so many of Them, the ones Over There, vote for Candidate Trump?

Ever since the shocking November day when Professor Wang turned out to be wrong, we liberals have pretended to try to answer that question.

We say "pretended" for a reason. Over Here, within our liberal tents, our analyses tend to adhere to a simplistic story-line:

According to this preferred tribal view, Those People, the ones in the white working-class, voted for Trump because they're slobbering racists. We pseudo-liberals can't quit this tale. We tell it all the time.

This story attributes decisions by millions of voters to a single, unflattering motive. This morning, Amanda Marcotte became the latest fiery liberal to tell this preferred tribal tale, in a piece at the new Salon.

Marcotte works from an analysis by Nate Cohn in yesterday's New York Times. As she starts, she quotes a remarkable statement by Cohn:
MARCOTTE (3/30/17): After much contentious debate about how it is that Donald Trump won three crucial states—Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan—that were expected to be easy wins for Hillary Clinton in 2016, Nate Cohn of The New York Times has what feels like a definitive analysis. It wasn’t, as Cohn argued, that turnout was especially low. It’s that white voters turned out at higher rates than usual and critically a small but significant number of white working-class voters who had supported Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 didn’t show up for Hillary Clinton this time around.

“Over all, almost one in four of President Obama’s 2012 white working-class supporters defected from the Democrats in 2016,” Cohn wrote, “either supporting Mr. Trump or voting for a third-party candidate.”
Already, Marcotte seems to have misstated Cohn's analysis in several ways. That said, she quotes him accurately—and his claim is startling:

“Over all, almost one in four of President Obama’s 2012 white working-class supporters defected from the Democrats in 2016, either supporting Mr. Trump or voting for a third-party candidate.”

That's what Cohn actually said—and his statement seems to be based on detailed statistical analysis.

At any rate, dang Those People, the ones in the white working-class! According to Cohn, one in four of Obama's white working-class voters "defected from Democrats in 2016!"

You'll note, of course, that Cohn's statement doesn't quite seem to make sense. If one in four of Obama's white working-class voters voted for Candidate Trump or voted for a third-party candidate, this would imply that more than one-fourth of Obama's WWC voters defected from Candidate Clinton.

Surely, some of Obama's WWC voters simply stayed home this time. Adding them to the two groups Cohn mentions, it would seem that more than one in four defected from Candidate Clinton.

As presented, Cohn's statement doesn't exactly make sense. Whatever! According to Cohn, an amazing percentage of Obama's white working-class voters failed to vote for Candidate Clinton last year. The eternal note of sadness comes in when Marcotte goes on to say why.

Attention tribals! Within many of our liberal tents, there can only be one explanation when Those People, the rubes Over There, refuse to behave in the manner we've been nice enough to prescribe. In this passage, Marcotte discerns that motive:
MARCOTTE: At first blush, these numbers might seem to justify a narrative that’s grown up since Clinton’s electoral defeat: Economic insecurity is driving these working-class voters away from the Democrats into the welcoming arms of Trump, who has wooed them to the dark side by blaming immigrants and people of color for their economic woes.

It’s a nice story because, if true, it suggests a simple solution: If Democrats pushed for a more robust social safety net and strong jobs programs, then these voters would be lured back by their better angels to vote for greater economic security and would reject the racist agenda offered by Trump. It’s a narrative that allows people to believe that this country’s racism problem isn’t that bad, allows urban liberal journalists to romanticize the white-working class a bit and offers the reassuring fantasy that there’s a straightforward solution to the Democratic Party’s woes.

Unfortunately, there’s no reason to believe that this is true. If anything, the 2016 elections disprove this theory. As troubling as this may be to accept, I would argue that the 2016 election results suggest that a recovering economy allowed this small but significant number of voters to indulge their racism and sexism because they didn’t have to worry as much about their economic futures. These numbers may indicate that Democrats don’t lose because of economic insecurity—but because economic security creates complacency, which can lead to a Republican victory.
In that final highlighted passage, Marcotte explains all those white working-class defections, full and complete freaking stop.

Marcotte starts in semi-comical fashion. She says her explanation for those defections is "troubling to accept." She proceeds to offer the explanation we liberals tend to adore:

Those People voted for Candidate Trump because they "indulged their racism and sexism," she says. Within our tribe, this claim isn't "troubling" at all. It's the claim which brings tribal joy!

Before we note the unintentional comedy built into that statement, let's note a more basic point. In that passage, Marcotte offers a single explanation for a very large number of votes.

It can't be that some of those voters "indulged their racism" while others "worried about their economic futures." People like Marcotte, in whatever tribe, will rarely reason like that.

Instead, they'll lump all Those People together. A single motive will explain millions of votes. Inevitably, it will seem that The Others are all just alike.

Those People—they're are just all alike! It's the eternal cry of the tribe, delivered from deep in prehistory.

The humor comes when we stop to consider what Marcotte has actually said. She considers a large number of people who voted for Barack Obama, our first black president—and she concludes that their subsequent votes were driven by their racism!

Dearest darlings, please understand! Within our pseudo-liberal hive, no other explanation is available! Under edicts of hard tribal law, no other motive exists.

In fairness, we must also say this:

It wasn't just their racism which led Those People to cast their votes last year. Their sexism came into play as well! Let's not leave that out!

What makes Marcotte's analysis so hopelessly poor? Let's recall the two basic points we made on Tuesday, in Part 2 of this award-winning report:

We said that, when our tribe considers Those People, we'll tend to seek some single explanation for their millions of votes.
That's precisely what Marcotte has done.

We also told you this:

When we divine that uniform motive, it will be the least flattering motive available. Those people will be demonized—and this is precisely what Marcotte has done as she explains all those votes.

We're forced to state an unflattering point about people who reason this way. Throughout human history, people who have loathed The Others haven't been able to think of Them as being fully human.

A few weeks back, Sarah Kliff wrote about a 59-year-old WWC woman in Kentucky who has insurance through Obamacare but, because of her high premium and her high deductible, can't afford, as her age advances, to seek a doctor's care.

To the Marcottes of this world, the suffering of a person like that has to be erased. Her difficulty can't be acknowledged. A woman like that, being one of Those People, must be demonized.

So too with the West Virginia coal miner to whom Bernie Sanders and Chris Hayes spoke a few weeks back. By rule of law, his economic pain can't be acknowledged.

By law, he must be demonized. He can only be racist and sexist.

When it comes to matters like this, people like Marcotte are prehistoric. That said, they're widely found in our self-impressed tribe.

Everybody knows this but Us. In part for this fairly obvious reason, our tribe just isn't well liked.

Tomorrow: Will the real hillbillies please stand up?


  1. Here's why Somerby's points are incorrect. Clinton addressed those economic concerns of white working class voters in her programs and speeches. She, much more than Trump, offered solutions for their economic woes. And they rejected her. That's why Somerby's suggestion, that maybe it was economic woes that turned white voters toward Trump, cannot be correct.

    What else did Trump offer besides empty promises of better times? He made it OK to scapegoat immigrants and he dogwhistled racial hatred -- he made it clear that his party welcomed those attracted to white supremacist views. And white working class people flocked to his rallies, where they could chant "lock her up" and cheer hateful slogans, and maybe beat up a journalist in the parking lot.

    Marcotte is not wrong. Those white working class voters who went for Stein or Johnson may have had economic motives, but the ones who went for Trump voted for him because of his emphasis on racist hate, not despite it.

    Our "tribe" may be disliked for pointing this out, but why should racism and sexism be permitted to thrive without anyone saying what is true -- that this is despicable and unworthy of the citizens of our nation -- that it is not OK to be racist and sexist because it hurts people.

    There just weren't enough people with those high deductibles in WI, PA and MI to account for all the voters who switched to Trump, but there was plenty of red meat in Trump's speeches to let those guys put bros before hos and keep the bitch out of office.

    Somerby can try to give cover to the sexism that turned this election, but women like Marcotte and like Clinton herself (who is now speaking more boldly about women's issues) know exactly what happened.

    1. They "rejected" her because of a comment about coal misleadingly ripped out of context of a large program to help the Appalachians. Combined with Trump.s bullshit promises to bring coal back from the dead, the people peed themselves.

    2. Boring undergraduate tantrum. Female Junior. Am I right?

    3. @1:36 -- so, you don't know who Susan B. was either.

    4. Hillary lost because people like you on her campaign had her giving "deplorables" speeches to LBGTQ audiences in NYC when she needed to be in a pitched battle for working class voters in the Midwest.

    5. Hillary lost because of Comey and because of Russian interference.

  2. Trump's latest cute remark:

    "Around we’ve had leaders like Susan B. Anthony. Have you heard of Susan B. Anthony? I’m shocked that you’ve heard of her"

    Either this is the stupidest man on the planet or Gitlin is majorly right.

    1. Or Trump Derangement Syndrome has overtaken the Democrats, who have always been humorless.

  3. Q. How do you get a Conservative to support political correctness?

    A. Tell them the truth about themselves.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. "What makes Marcotte's analysis so hopelessly poor?"

    She over generalizes. Just like Bob does about liberals. Neither of them have much in the way of either education or experience to lend much credibility to their bullshit blogging political analysis. Marcotte obviously markets herself a lot better than brother Bob.

  6. In support of the "economic anxiety" thesis as a motivation for Obama-Trump Rust Belt WWC switches, Bob cites just 2 data points (both, ironically, from WV, a state NOT in the Rust Belt): the 59-year-old woman with high Obamacare premiums, and the retired coal miner at the Sanders town hall. But we don't know how either of these people VOTED in 2012 or 2016, which means they may not even be part of the WWC subset Marcotte was talking about. They may have voted for Clinton in '16, or not at all; they may have voted for ROMNEY in '12, or not at all. This nonsensical and irrelevant "evidence", using a bogus methodology Bob would have rightly ridiculed just a few short years ago, is sadly symptomatic of the Howler's recent decline into outright crankery. Parting Q: presumably, "racists" and "sexists" do actually exist in the America of today. Why is it so hard for Bob to believe that a) the first openly racist presidential campaign in nearly a half-century and b) the first major-party female presidential nominee in US history might have had some impact, perhaps even a decisive one, upon election '16? Against this, Somersby has nothing to offer save argument-though-incredulity. Sad!

    PS: Part of the reason Obamacare premiums are so high in some states is GOP reluctance to expand Medicaid--a position that Marcotte presumably supports, thus making it unfair to accuse her of indifference on this score. Interestingly, one of the biggest Dem-to-GOP swings relative to '12 was in OH . . . where premiums have been relatively stable, since Kasich was one of the few GOP govs to expand Medicaid! So much for Obamacare anxiety . . .

  7. Here is a link to an interesting article that might help explain things:


  8. Bob, you edited out "this small but significant number" from Amanda's quote. Sean would be proud.

    1. He did not do that--it's in the final quoted passage.

  9. Marcotte wrote: the 2016 election results suggest that a recovering economy allowed this small but significant number of voters to indulge their racism and sexism

    So, according Marcotte, one reason some whites voted for Obama but not for Hillary was racism. Huh?

  10. In Whitley County KY, where the 59 year old woman Sarah Kliff interviewed lives, the place is virtually all white (98%) and working class. It has voted for a Republican President at least since 1976. Gore got 35% of the vote. When Barack Obama was on the ballot in 2008, he got only 26%. It dropped to 20% in 2012.

    In Mingo County,WV where the retired miner lives, it is also virtually all white, 97%, and working class. It voted 60% for Gore and 56% for Kerry, but despite the economic disaster of the Bush second term, when Barack Obama was on the ballot, it went against him 55-42% and then 70-27% four years later.

    Oh, and about Bob's assertion that Nate Cohn's comment regarding 1 in 4 Obama voters deserting Clinton not making sense: in Whitely County Clinton got 25% fewer votes than Obama, In Mingo County she got 44% less.

  11. The Democrats will continue to lose elections if they listen to idiots like Marcotte. The conspiratorially minded among us may even conclude that people like her are planted within the Democratic party by its enemies to ensure its defeat.

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