October 6, 2016

Trump improving among non-"married with children" group, vs. old Republicans

One major aspect of the Trump re-alignment that has not gotten any coverage is how the Republican vs. Democrat candidates are appealing to people of different marital status, presence of children, and so on.

Usually the Republican runs on an explicitly natalist platform, whereas Trump has sidelined the issue of abortion, doesn't talk about family values, and doesn't specifically target people who are married with children. Now it is the Democrat who is appealing to suburban parents about how problematic the other candidate's tone and words would be if they came into contact with their innocent children's ears, and what kind of role model the other candidate would set for their little dears while growing up.

Trump is focusing on making life better for all Americans, not just those who score highest on the Ned Flanders index of household type, and he's focusing mainly on class and economic issues. Hillary ought to ask her husband who wins when one candidate is speaking plainly to the plight of working class whites, while the other is a hoity-toity tone-monitor lecturing the rest of us about family values. See here for an earlier discussion.

I compared the support for Trump across various marital and household types, using the Reuters tracking poll for September 2016 and Romney's performance as recorded in the General Social Survey (a national probability sample, and the gold standard for social science research). I restricted respondents to those aged 30-49, to control for whether or not they're likely to be married, have kids at home, etc. I also added 5 points to the Reuters numbers, since they deliberately altered their methodology to penalize him by that much.

He's under-performing Romney among the married-with-children ideal by 15-20 points, but doing much better in the other types (single and never married, divorced, cohabiting, married without children, etc.), by around 5-10 points. This helps Trump because most of the 30-49 age group of voters in 2012 were not married-with-children (only 25-30%). The net effect in this age group is to add about 3 points above Romney. If he can convince the married-with-children types that fixing our broken country is more important than what words their kids hear on the internet, he could improve by 10 points above Romney in this age group.

Reuters doesn't allow us to know the ages of the children at home, but I suspect Trump is out-performing Romney among parents with babies (under 6), since that's the one married-with-children demographic that Democrats tend to win. They emphasize childcare when the kids need it most, and now Trump has stolen their thunder on that topic with his plan to make early childcare more affordable. His sub-Romney support is likely among parents of preteens and teenagers.

Trump's improvement among cohabiting boyfriend-girlfriend households, the divorced, and so on, is not due to these households spurning the ideal of nuclear household living -- as though they simply had fewer burdens and responsibilities, and wanted bigger tax cuts to pursue their materialist hedonistic lifestyles. That would be the yuppies, who are still largely Democrats.

Rather, the non-Flanders people are turning to Trump because they do want to settle down, get married, have children, raise a family, visit the neighborhood children's lemonade stands, host their kids' friends for birthday parties, and the like. But given the downward class mobility that has plagued more and more young people as good-paying jobs have been off-shored or undercut by immigrants working here, and relentless mergers and acquisitions have concentrated the good jobs into fewer households, it's become harder and harder to begin the process of family formation.

Over 10 years ago, Steve Sailer wrote about affordable family formation being the key to the GOP's future, since Republicans did better with voters who were married, had more kids, and lived in areas with cheaper housing (such as in wide-open areas that are easier to develop than land lying next to a major body of water). His policy implications, however, were restricted to lowering costs rather than also raising incomes, and focused only on immigration and deregulation of building (fewer immigrants, less demand for housing, cheaper rents and mortgages).

The main driver of stagnating and falling real incomes over the past 40 years has not been immigration, which has made the trend even worse, but the disappearance of high-paying jobs. That is due to both the off-shoring of jobs (especially manufacturing, which paid many times the minimum wage), and the consolidation of good jobs via the trend toward monopolization in the era of deregulation mania.

However, using trade agreements and tariffs to bring those good jobs back here would hurt corporate profits (the very reason they were off-shored in the first place). So would breaking up big industries and blocking most mergers and acquisitions. Here we see the trade-off between favoring business interests and affordable family formation -- beyond the wage-lowering effect of businesses bringing in cheap unskilled labor. Even if we kicked all the immigrants out and shut the door, we would still have to take on the Chamber of Commerce in order for more citizens to realize the American dream in their family lives.

Under the Reagan-era coalition of the GOP, business interests were inviolable, and an elitist agenda was pursued. Downward mobility meant you were a sucker who should just go vote for the welfare-dispensing Democrats. With the populist re-alignment of the Trump movement, business interests will become subordinated to the well-being of all citizens. Now it is coherent and popular to discuss both the cost-lowering solution of immigration restriction, as well as the income-raising solution of a more protectionist trade policy and trust-busting attitude.

The natural "golden age" to look back toward for affordable family formation is the Baby Boom of the early post-WWII period. There was minimal immigration, but more importantly there was soaring prosperity (falling inequality) due to protectionist trade policy, a distrust of monopoly, and collective bargaining by labor unions. Tightly regulated banking was not very profitable, while most recent high school graduates could earn enough at a manufacturing plant to get married, buy a house, and start having children.

Only by proposing a fundamental re-structuring of the economy -- re-industrialization -- has Trump been able to succeed where the old Republican party had so pitifully failed in promoting affordable family formation.

Bernie Sanders was on the right track, too, and also galvanized the downwardly mobile and stagnant "young" people ("when you're over 70, under 40 will seem young"). However, he didn't focus quite enough on re-industrialization, almost writing it off as fantasy to return to the good ol' 1950s and '60s.

He focused on maintaining or extending the knowledge economy, just making it cost less to get a degree. But what are they supposed to do with that degree? Not everybody is going to become a professor, lawyer, or doctor. Raise the minimum wage for overly educated service workers? Fewer would be hired. Better to have higher-paying jobs being produced because the work is valuable to the company owners and the end consumers -- assembling a truck, not assembling a taco.

As Trump's plan of re-industrialization and trust-busting bears fruit, I think more and more of the Sanders supporters will come around to the new Republican party.

1 comment:

  1. I found a rough, imperfect map of rootedness/traditionalism/ vs libertarianism or whatever. It's the likelyhood of being buried or cremated after you die. The places most likely to be buried are in the Deep South and Appalachia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, West Virginia. The Most likely places to be cremated are way out West such as Alaska, Hawaii, etc. as well as the libertarian New England states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.



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