It’s a slow week for economic news, but we sure had some electoral fireworks on Tuesday! Since I am a data nerd, here are two metrics from Virginia that caught my attention, which I’ll discuss in reverse order.
I. Is it education or is it age?
Here are two graphs showing how the elections broke down:
First, by racial makeup of the legislative district (horizontal axis) vs. percent with college degree (vertical axis):
Republicans were completely shut out in districts with less than 50% white populations. With one exception, they were also shut out in majority white districts with more than 50% holding college degrees. On the contrary, the GOP won all but two districts with more than about 55%-60% white population where *also* less than 40%-45% hold college degrees.
Now let’s look at the vote by age:
Senior citizens voted for Gillespie. Middle-aged adults split almost evenly between the two candidates.
The younger than 45 you got, the bigger the share for Northam.
Now let’s look at turnout. Turnout was higher than in the previous elections both by younger people:
and by the college educated:
It’s pretty clear that there are strong red-blue divides along the axes of age and education.
But which is more significant? For example, is a senior citizen with a college degree more or less likely to have voted Democratic vs. a Millennial without a college degree? The issue is confounded because the percent of those with college educations increased from the post-WW2 era into the 1980s at least:
Not only have I not seen this issue addressed for the Virginia vote earlier this week, I still haven’t seen it addressed for last year’s Presidential election! This has serious electoral implications. If the primary driver is age (as in, those who formed their political opinions before the Civil and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 were passed), well then (ahem) mortality will take care of the issue. If it’s education, the critical divide is going to persist, albeit with less intensity.
My guess is that education is the stronger driver, a point brought home by one of the Trump supporters in Johnstown, PA, re-interviewed by Michael Kruse recently
, who lamented that all of the young people with prospects had moved away (probably to a growing metropolis where they were voting Democratic). But I’d like to see the data!
2. It’s the net strong disapproval, stupid!
Regardless of the answer to the first question, there is one metric that forecast the outcome of the Virginia election very well: net strong disapproval minus strong approval.
I like K.I.S.S. methods, and I have decided that the easiest K.I.S.S. guide to the midterm elections is likely to be Rasmussen’s “net strong disapproval” spread. The theory is that while voters who even weakly approve or disapprove of a President are likely to come out and vote in the Presidential election years, only those with strong opinion — a substantially smaller number — come out to vote in midterm elections.
[O]n Election Days 2010 and 2014, for every 100 adults who strongly disapproved of Obama, there were only 60-65 and 55 adults who strongly approved of his performance — enough for a GOP wave in each case.
In August, I noted that the same metric for Trump had fallen to similar levels. It has remained fairly stable since:
There is one important difference, though. At its worst, strong disapproval for Obama was only about 40%, with strong approval languishing just under 20%. For Trump, both numbers are about 10% higher — he has both bigger strong disapproval (45%-50%), and bigger strong approval (23%-29%).
If strong opinions drive off-year turnout, then we should expect to see bigger turnout for both the party in national power as well as the party out of power.
[T]his was an intensity surge for Democrats more than it was a falloff for Republicans: while it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison because there was a bigger third party vote in 2013, Gillespie got about 160,000 more votes than Cuccinelli did four years ago. But Northam got 335,000 more votes than outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).
Turnout increased for *both* GOP and Democratic voters, but comparatively the turnout was much, much higher on the Democratic side.
This gives me confidence that I am on the right track using this metric to forecast the midterms. In other words, if one year from now strong disapproval vs. strong approval is about where it is now, almost every GOP officeholder in a jurisdiction or district that was carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016 is Doomed.
Of course, approval vs. disapproval numbers can and do change with time and events. But it seems very unlikely that Trump is going to be less polarizing a figure one year from now than he has been for the last two years. Which means that either war and/or changes in the economy are the likely determinants of meaningful changes in net strong disapproval between now and then.
I have no clue what might transpire on the international scene, but forecasting the economy one year out is right in my wheelhouse. I’ll address that shortly.
Nice info. Thanks.
On the question of age or education you assume the age factor is related primarily or only to WHEN born but that assumption is false.
Age is composed of both when born and how time develops one’s primary interests. The older one becomes the more one becomes less of a risk-taker to insure self and family are at decreasing risk of loss, they become realists and shed their youthful utopian idealisms. The older one becomes the more of them become self employed in small business, or advancing to higher level managers in corporations, or professionals (doctors, lawyers for example) or directly dependent on same for their own well-being.
The point is only that “dying off” isn’t how the “old white crowd” will stop having same or similar conservative influence on elections. It’s thus safe to say that a relatively large proportion of the old white crowd is made, not born that way. In the deep south though the years of birth will have greater influence
Note also that there was a strong rural urban divide in the election results. As indeed there was in the 2016 results. Small population counties went for the Republican candidate. I do think a part of this is the issue of one size fits all parts of the country federal regulation. IMHO different regulations are needed for Edwards Co Tx ( pop density .9/sq mile than New York County NY (Manhattan).
Also the fact the DNC now is a at least competent if uninspiring. I don’t think people get how much the 2013-16 trainwreck the DNC was. I mean, it was even worse than the 97-00 Clinton teardown. Republicans are badly over repped in Federal, State legislatures.
Obama simply didn’t give a shit. DWS was just putting in people that paid the most and didn’t give a shit. The midwestern Republican Govs are going to be in one hell of a fight with the regional recession going on. All 4 could fall and a vastly better DNC ground game.
Yeah,. the Republicans got into Virginia from the rural/western part of the state as they supported them during the war. Democrats did better because of the strong “bourbon” in the post-civil war era.
As the Democrats turned torward social nationalism in the late 1890’s, Virginia began turning away from Democrats slowly but surely while the Republican kept a strong base in the west. By the 20’s the Democrats were losing Virginia as the bourboncrats left the party. But due to the strong social conservatism that held the Wilson/FDR coalition together, Democrats still got enough votes to win the state, but the fade out was beginning. Once LBJ severed the links, they lost the state as the party was to populist economically to secure votes.
Northam and the Northam girls that are coming in with him are basically modern day bourbon. Pro-business and low taxes. Ditto the tranny lol. Republicans coming home.
Lyle makes the point though that the urban / rural division decides the proportion of dems. This is not only true in Virginia but elsewhere in the U.S. The more metro the more voters vote the liberal tickets.. And since the metro area’s are the most densely populated then the more of them there are in a state or region, the more liberal the vote in those states or regions.
For this election in Virginia see the density chart on results in the NYT piece.
This has far less to do with education and age factors and far more to do with interdependencies and mutual objectives in metro environments than the objectives in interdependencies in rural regions.
The urban / rural divide in conservative / liberal interests is not new news. Jefferson’s conservatism relied on a “nation of small farmers” don’t forget.
yeah and Democrats were never a strong rural party nationally outside the south where the dominated everywhere. Up north, it was always the cities while republicans controlled the rural areas. The Dems have had 4 era’s. One was free trade/slave party financed by european jews. The next was the free market/free trade party of the bourbon’s post-civil war era. Then the social nationalism of Byran/Wilson/FDR that marked a shift and deeper social conservatism. Then the modern social progressivism of LBJ/Clinton/Obama which marked a return of “neo-bourbonism” that dominates the party today.
Virginia, as elsewhere, will become more liberal (per current line between liberal / conservative) as populations become more metropolitan — a feature of the U.S. demographics since the west was settled.
This has nearly all been driven simply by the change in technologies and industrialization with the productivity gains that resulted, making rural farming environments less and less dependent o human labor thus shifting populations to the more industrialized interdependencies of urban environments.
The shift continues still
I live in Virginia and stayed home again as I did last November. Northam was little better than Gillespie in my book, and now the corporatist Democrats are going to feel justified in doubling down going after suburban, white Republicans–to the detriment of almost every Democratic core group (full disclosure, I fit that demographic but am to the left of Sanders on economic issues and foreign policy). And thus did the Democratic base cut its own throat yet again.
Stay home at your own risk and in which case you have nothing to complain about either way. We already had one go around with the results of people voting for a different candidate or not voting at all for a president. It sure worked, didn’t it? If it was not for the unconstitutional filibuster and the illegal super-majority vote to bust it; we would really be in trouble as a majority vote would pass everything. McConnell is too stupid to remove it. You and others have put this country in peril with the likes of Trump, Pence, McCain, and Moore coming to power.
“(full disclosure, I fit that demographic but am to the left of Sanders on economic issues and foreign policy).”
This remark leaves me curious about what you mean. Are you saying that Bernie Sanders was too centrist?
What position on economic issues sets you apart from Bernie Sanders?
What position on foreign policy sets you apart from Bernie Sanders?
I’m all in on the incentive to vote thing(see the Tea Party). Also think education is important. But I am not a fan of the age thing, unless there is consideration regarding location.
Those who “formed their political opinions before the Civil and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 were passed), well then (ahem) mortality will take care of the issue” is certainly true, but they are being replaced by those who formed their opinions afterward, and I believe those opinions are largely controlled by location.
I believe that the election of a black man created a whole new group of people with new political opinions, and that obama also created a whole new group of strongly disapproves that never voted before.. And that those numbers reached new heights in turnout with trump’s racism on his sleeves.
And location adds to that. NDD’s link to
is a great one. And if you look at the demographics of Cambria County
you can see what is going on. The place is getting older all the time, but I bet you the younger people vote the same way.
Forecasting is not in my wheelhouse, but I don’t see how the economy could get much better.
I note that median real household income increased dramatically from 2014 to 2015. One can argue that unemployment is a bad indicator in a period of wage stagnation, but one can’t argue that such a period lasted until November 2016. Now I wonder why I am still talking about the 2015 number, 2016 data should have been processed by now. Oh hell, come on, the US economy is in great shape *and* people in the US have noticed. They still hate Trump. I see a very low chance that any economic shift will save vulnerable Republicans. I see a moderate chance that economic worsening will doom even more of them.
So that leaves war. That’s why I am terrified. Trump is capable of taking the US to war because someone insulted him. He is absolutely unprincipled and very capable of doing anything at all for political advantage. If (more) war is his only hope, he will seek (more) war. It is almost impossible to stop a US president who wants war. I think it is barely possible and everyone must hope and fight for peace (except in Afghanistan — we are stuck there indefinitely — fight but better not hope).
I’ve figured there are two points in time when Trump will pull the war gambit out of the bag: Either prior to the mid-terms are prior to the 2020 election. If prior to the mid-terms he can use it to stay in power In 2020 (the US rarely changes horses in mid-stream) so all he has to do is keep a war going until after the 2020 elections if he starts one prior to the midterms.
Or he might wait until he summer or early fall in 2020.
He keeps angling for one with North Korea, or Iran.. but he could pick fro any number — even China vis-a-viz Taiwan or South China Seas.
The U.S. has never been picky about finding “reasons” to fight wars when it suits the political agenda.
well, just to say
i don’t think either age or education are reliable indicators absent other factors. i am of an age where i don’t think people much older than i am can tell one party from another… and everyone i know (baby boom or older) is pretty far left of the democratic party.
as for education. don’t count on it. sure we were all taught to be liberals in college, but that either is already changing or can change. there is nothing in “education” that makes people smarter or kinder.
i think you are overlooking the skill and money of the people who write the propaganda.