Part 4—Now for the rest of the data: Might Hillary Clinton have won the election last year if she hadn't made her ill-advised comment about (one segment of) the nation's many deplorables?
Everything is possible! Candidate Trump drew an inside straight in the electoral college, thanks to wins by narrow margins in three "Rust Belt" states. In an interview with Jane Pauley earlier this month, Clinton said she didn't think her "deplorables" statement flipped the election's outcome:
PAULEY (9/10/17) There were some memorable verbal gaffes, too.Was Clinton's comment "determinative?" We'd guess it probably wasn't, though you can never be sure. But just for the record, Clinton's apparent chronology was a bit shaky in this interview with Pauley, in that her "deplorables" comment preceded the Access Hollywood tape by roughly a month.
CLINTON (videotape): You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.
PAULEY: Why do you think that word "deplorable" had been circulating in your mind?
CLINTON: Well, I thought Trump was behaving in a deplorable manner. I thought a lot of his appeals to voters were deplorable. I thought his behavior, as we saw on the Access Hollywood tape, was deplorable. And there were a large number of people who didn't care. It did not matter to them. And he turned out to be a very effective reality TV star in our presidential campaign.
PAULEY: When you said "basket of deplorables," you energized—
CLINTON: No, but they were already energized.
PAULEY: But you offended some people who who didn't personally feel deplorable at all.
CLINTON: Well, I don't—I don't buy that. I don't buy that. I`m sorry I gave him a political gift of any kind.
PAULEY: It was a gift.
CLINTON: But I don't think that was determinative.
(Conservatives have been widely informed about that apparent error in chronology. On conservative sites, this apparent error was characterized as Clinton's latest lie. Needless to say, this is how our brain-dead discourse now works.)
In this interview, Clinton acknowledged that her comment was a "political gift." It just wasn't a big enough gift to have moved a sufficient number of votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, she said.
Tomorrow, we'll compare the attitude behind her "deplorables" comment to the attitude behind some comments by her husband, who emerged as the winner of two White House elections. For today, though, we want to focus on her ongoing claim that her "deplorables" comment was actually right on the merits.
Was Clinton actually right when she said that half of Trump's voters were "deplorable/irredeemable?" She seems to make that remarkable claim in this part of her new book:
CLINTON (page 413): When I said, "You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables," I was talking about well-documented reality. For example, the General Social Survey conducted by the University of Chicago found that in 2016, 55 percent of white Republicans believed that blacks are generally poorer than whites "because most just don't have the motivation or willpower to pull themselves up and out of poverty." In the same survey, 42 percent of white Republicans described blacks as lazier than whites and 26 percent said they were less intelligent. In all cases, the number of white Democrats who said the same thing was much lower (though still way too high).Were half of Trump's supporters "deplorable," possibly "irredeemable?" Remarkably, Clinton has doubled down on that sweeping assertion, absurdly saying that her judgment is a matter of "reality"—of well-documented reality, no less.
Generalizing about a broad group of people is almost always unwise. And I regret handing Trump a political gift with my "deplorables" comment." I know that a lot of well-intentioned people were insulted because they misunderstood me to be criticizing all Trump voters. I'm sorry about that.
But too many of Trump's core supporters do hold views that I find—there's no other word for it—deplorable.
The documentation she cites mainly involves responses to an inkblot-style question on last year's General Social Survey (GSS). She cites the percentage of white Republicans who answered that question in the "deplorable" way, but gives the numbers for nobody else.
Today, we thought you ought to consider the way other demographic groups answered that GSS question. This brings us in contact with "well-documented" survey trends which generally get suppressed, at least Over Here in our self-satisfied tribe.
Once more, we'll show you the text of the GSS question at issue. In our view, it's a poorly composed, "inkblot"-style question. In our view, sensible people won't be inclined to answer such questions at all.
That said, the question has been asked as part of the GSS for at least forty years, and it's been widely answered. Here's the question which, according to Clinton, turns a sweeping "political gift" into a matter of "well-documented reality:"
Question from the General Social Survey:That's the question the GSS asked. Now, let's take a look at the responses they garnred.
"On the [sic] average (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people. Do you think these differences are because most (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) just don't have the motivation or will power to pull themselves up out of poverty?"
Clinton is basically right in the number she cited, perhaps perfectly so. As we noted earlier in the week, this is the way Republican respondents answered that GSS question last year:
Responses by Republicans overall:In last year's GSS survey, 53.3 percent of Republicans answered that question in the affirmative. On the basis of those answers, Clinton has doubled down on the claim that those people are "deplorable," and she seemed to say, last fall, that they're "irredeemable" too.
Yes: 53.3 percent
No: 42.8 percent
Don't know: 3.9 percent
In her book, she says that condemnation isn't a matter of (rather poisonous) opinion. She says it's simple "reality"—"well-documented" reality at that!
Personally, we find her statement astonishing—astoundingly dumb on the actual merits, amazingly dumb on the politics. We say that in part because we've looked at people's responses to many such questions down through the years, including the wider range of responses to that GSS question last year.
Fifty-three percent of Republicans gave the deplorable answer. Today, for whatever it may be worth, let's examine the way other demographic groups answered that ill-advised question.
Let's start with us the people as a whole. Here's the way three large groups of respondents answered:
Percentage giving the deplorable answer:For now, let's take the most simple-minded analytical approach. If 53 percent of Republicans are deplorable, it looks like 34 percent of Democrats are deplorable too. So are 40 percent of citizens overall.
All respondents: 41.5 percent
U.S. citizens: 39.7 percent
Democrats: 34.4 percent
Such judgments can always be reached. But at this point, we've already encountered an important piece of "reality"—on the whole, Democrats and Republicans answered that question the same way. There was much more agreement than disagreement among respondents from the two light-v-dark groups.
It's certainly true that fewer Democrats turn out to be deplorable. But if half Trump's voters were deplorable, so were a third of Clinton's. It seems unwise to damn the half without even citing the third.
Certain eternal verities emerge in the fuller data set. As usual, women turn out to be less deplorable than men. Here are the relevant numbers:
Percentage giving the deplorable answer:Adopting the most simple-minded interpretation, Clinton finds that 42 percent of men are deplorable, but only 41 percent of women!
Women: 41.1 percent
Men: 41.9 percent
Finally, we reach the part of the show which almost always get suppressed by the array of jugglers and clowns who serve as liberal sachems. How did respondents from our three largest "racial" groups answer that GSS question? If we adopt a simple-minded analysis, those heinous white Republicans may not look quite so bad:
Percentage giving the deplorable answer:As usual, white supremacy rules! Among our three largest "racial" groups, the smallest percentage of white respondents gave the deplorable answer. Just to put these numbers in context, let's sift the data like this:
Whites: 39.8 percent
Blacks: 46.3 percent
Hispanics: 46.9 percent
Percentage giving the deplorable answer:Hurray! Republicans are still the most deplorable group. But if we adopt the most straightforward analytical standard, blacks and Hispanics are almost as bad!
Republicans: 53.3 percent
Blacks: 46.3 percent
Hispanics: 46.9 percent
At this point, we confront a question which may seem puzzling. Why did almost fifty percent of black respondents answer that survey question in the deplorable manner?
Lizard brains across the country will quickly be able to answer that question in a way which preserves the manifest greatness of Clinton's denunciation of The Others. That said, the most honest answer to that question would be this:
Why did so many black respondents answer that survey question that way?At any rate, 46 percent of black respondents gave the deplorable answer! So did 47 percent of Hispanics! Even men are better than that!
If you really want to find out, you'll pretty much have to ask them!
By the way:
What did all these people say when they were asked about the ability of other groups to overcome their manifest laziness and work their way out of poverty? As we noted at the start of the week, the GSS didn't ask! Who's deplorable now?
Why did all these people answer that inkblot question in the deplorable way? Tomorrow, we'll ponder that question awhile.
In the meantime, we'll only note this:
In her book, Clinton condemns half of Trump's supporters to Hell based on their response to that GSS question. Almost half of all black respondents answered the same darn way!
Tomorrow: Those Arkansas Pentecostals in an earlier day
Concerning the GSS data we've cited: For starters, you can click on this. After that, you should click on "Table."
From there, you're on your own. Note choices under "Breakdown."