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Trump’s Convention Made People Less Likely To Vote For Him

To be frank, most polls aren’t worth writing about. Especially in this election season, with its day-long, Serlingesque controversies and without much substantive talk of policy proposals or qualifications, polls come and go with the tone of the news cycle.

But when a poll displays a real change of course from the historical example, it’s worth noting. Such a poll was released today.

After the Democratic convention, 45 percent of respondents to a Gallup poll said they were more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton, compared to 41 percent who said they were less likely to vote for Clinton.

Donald’s is a different story: After the Republican convention, just 36 percent of respondents said they were more likely to vote for Trump, compared to 51 percent who said they were less likely to vote for him.

The same trend held for views of both conventions overall: Respondents viewed the Democratic Party more favorably after their convention, 44-42, but they viewed the Republican Party less favorably after the RNC, 35-52.

In short: Trump may have been better off skipping the convention altogether. Gallup explained the bizarre results:

Gallup has asked this question about Democratic and Republican national conventions since 1984, with the exceptions of the 1984 and 1992 Republican conventions. The 2016 Republican convention is the first after which a greater percentage of Americans have said they are “less likely” rather than “more likely” to vote for the party’s presidential nominee.

Trump has pointed to a victory in the initial television ratings for both conventions: 34.9 million watched his speech, while only 33.8 million watched Clinton’s, on average, across 10 broadcast and cable channels and PBS.

But Gallup’s polling suggests there may have been plenty of people in Trump’s audience who were convinced by his speech — to vote for someone else.


Photo: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S., July 28, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Gallup: Hillary’s Supporters Are More Entusiastic Than Bernie’s

Don’t believe your Facebook feed’s pro-Sanders bias.

Bernie Sanders’s fans are often portrayed as hyped-up youngsters infatuated with the Vermonter’s long record of progressive legislation, and his passion for leveling out the economic playing field. In comparison, Clinton voters support the staid “establishment” – despite Clinton’s being a trailblazer in nearly everything she’s done.

Yet according to a recent Gallup poll, 54 percent of Clinton supporters are “very” or “extremely” enthusiastic about her candidacy, while the same is only true of 44 percent of Sanders supporters. While Bernie Sanders does dominate the under-30 vote, notably in Michigan and Iowa, his voters aren’t more excited about him than Clinton’s are about her.

Amanda Marcotte, writing for Alternet, argues that media bias could be clouding the real story:

It’s not hard to see why this false narrative that Sanders inspires more enthusiasm has taken root. He is the challenger running up against the favorite, and it is known that everyone likes an underdog. That, and his surprisingly robust chances against Clinton suggest a rising tide narrative, again not unfairly.

On top of that, most journalists who echo the Sanders enthusiasm narrative spend a lot of time on social media, and if you do that, then it’s safe to say that it looks like Sanders is inspiring a lot of enthusiasm. There is an explosion of memes and chatter about the “revolution” and sharing every single story they can find that says something positive about Sanders’s chances.

It’s not that Hillary doesn’t have her own memes and pop culture moments — they just get lost in the sea of content, and are often drowned out by those who dislike her or her surrogates, whether pop confectionary Katy Perry, feminist punching bag Lena Dunham, or unexpected rabble-rouser Madeleine Albright. There’s plenty of passionate prose about Hillary and how she’s perceived, from sexism to the art of the smile.

On the Republican side, the contest isn’t nearly as close. Although Donald Trump is revolting to millions of future voters, those who love him really love him. John Kasich and Ted Cruz are far more milquetoast to the Republican and Republican-leaning voters Gallup surveyed. Despite Cruz’s reputation as an sharp-toothed constitutionalist, just 39 percent of those surveyed are enthusiastic about him, compared to Trump’s 65 and Kasich’s 33.

Democrats who are “not too” or “not at all” enthusiastic about their preference are nearly evenly split in their indifference to Sanders and Clinton, suggesting that they find the candidates similar, aren’t paying much attention to the race, or simply want some Democrat to make it to the White House in January.

Cruz and Kaisch, by contrast, have much larger groups of supporters “not too” or “not at all” enthusiastic about them — 35 and 51 percent, respectively.

The survey was conducted via cellphone and landline interviews March 21-23 with a random sample of 1,358 registered voters (635 Republicans and independents who lean Republican, and 610 Democrats and those who lean Democratic). Voters were over 18 and lived in all 50 states including the District of Columbia.

Photo: Democratic U.S. presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrive on stage ahead of the start of the PBS NewsHour Democratic presidential candidates debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Hauck

Polls Show Discontent With GOP Congress, Rising Liberalism — And Shifting Memories On Iraq

Pew Research finds that nobody likes Republican leaders in Congress — not even Republicans. And the numbers have been getting slightly worse since February. Democratic leaders are also underwater, but at least they get a positive rating from their own partisans.

A new set of numbers from Gallup shows an amazing development on cultural issues: Self-identified social liberals now match the number of self-identified social conservatives, for the first time since Gallup began tracking this in 1999.

However, on economic issues the number of self-identified conservatives still grows higher than that of liberals.

Ed Kilgore writes: “So whatever else this means, it means the temptation for Democrats to carve out some sort of “economic liberal/social conservative” position, which was very strong in the 1980s and 1990s in some culturally conservative areas of the country (typically those with a lot of white working-class voters who retained enough union influence to keep them from defecting to the GOP entirely), has now pretty much vanished.”

But a word of caution: Polls are simply a snapshot of where anything is at a moment in time — as a new YouGov poll reminds us. It found that while support for the Iraq War was overwhelming back in 2003, nowadays a lot of people are saying that they opposed it back then.

Photo: Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell meet at the U.S. Capitol
January 7, 2015. (Official Photo by Caleb Smith; Speaker Boehner/Flickr)

The Power Of Fear

As the presidential election heats up, a question of strategy recurs: Why do candidates for the Republican Party’s nomination oppose gay marriage, directly or indirectly, when polls show a growing number of Americans becoming more tolerant of gay marriage?

The question re-emerged after Gallup released two new surveys on Tuesday and Wednesday. The first showed a record high percentage of Americans supporting gay marriage — 60 percent. The second showed for the first time a majority, 51 percent, saying that homosexuality isn’t a choice, but rather a trait one is born with.

The surveys concluded, moreover, that this trend should continue to grow in the future, as younger Americans are more likely than older Americans to “express positive views of same-sex relations.”

During a radio interview in Texas last week, Senator Ted Cruz said the Democratic Party has “gotten so extreme and so radical in its devotion to mandatory gay marriage that they’ve decided there’s no room for the religious liberty protected under the First Amendment.”

Last month, Governor Bobby Jindal promised executive action to allow discrimination against homosexuals if Louisiana’s Republican-controlled legislature fails to pass a measure to that effect: “We will be issuing an Executive Order … to prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Why would serious GOP candidates say such things when the polling data is so clear? Why risk appearing outside the mainstream?

One answer is commonplace among partisans. Conservatives are staunchly opposed to gay marriage, especially evangelical Christians. Naturally, Republican candidates must appease the base, but in appeasing the base, they end up alienating everyone else.

Conventional wisdom holds that you can’t win the presidency on a platform that conspicuously divides mainstream voters. And if you’re not aiming for the political center, you’re not a serious contender. This is why most liberals dismiss Cruz and Jindal as cranks.

It’s a good story, a variation of another story called “Demographics Is Destiny.” As the country grows more racially and culturally diverse, the country will naturally favor the priorities of the Democratic Party while leaving the older, whiter Republican base on the sidelines.

But what if it’s not true?

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What if the GOP doesn’t need to revitalize its base to win? What if it doesn’t need to appeal to the fat middle of the electorate? To the contrary, the Republicans may not need to broaden their appeal, not in the short term, because they are masters of the politics of fear.

Before I go on, consider the proper context.

Presidential elections are won and lost in swing states like Ohio, Virginia, and Florida. The popular vote is important in terms of mandates, but in terms of winning, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the Electoral College, and that means winning individual states.

Within that context, the GOP-controlled legislatures of 17 states, including Virginia and Florida, have enacted strict voter-identification laws that will disproportionately affect the young, the poor, and the non-white. They will suppress the Democratic vote.

Consider, too, the “drill-down strategy,” as it were. A conservative like Ted Cruz has limited mass appeal but that’s moot if he can flush out what he estimates to be as many as 9 million evangelical Christians who did not show up for John McCain and Mitt Romney.

A combination of suppressing the Democratic vote and getting out the evangelical Christian vote in swing states may be enough to win.

Indeed, the whole idea of a Republican Party in such disarray that it’s incapable of winning the presidency may just be the result of wishful thinking on the part of Democratic Party operatives and liberal intellectuals. If you take into account the GOP’s hold on state legislatures, many with super-majorities, as well as the success of the last two midterm elections, it would appear that the Republican Party hasn’t been this strong since the Hoover administration, according to analysts Sean Trende and David Byler of RealClearPolitics

“This interpretation is at odds with the prevailing theme of a Republican Party with serious demographic problems,” they write. “One can argue that these problems make it difficult for the GOP to win the presidency. But those same shifts have strengthened it in the states, which is where most lawmaking takes place.”

Which brings me back to fear.

First, don’t underestimate its power. It will give incentive to people who have no other incentive to vote, especially when they are being told that voting is the only way to preserve their freedom to worship.

Second, there is no downside to fear. Since Barack Obama took office more than six years ago, the GOP has exploited fear of a black president with no dire consequences. Each midterm election has rewarded the Republicans for their extremism.

As Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson write in The American Prospect: “Contrary to expectations that swing voters will punish them for their extremism at the polls, they just keep on going. … Republicans have learned how to have their extremist cake and eat it too.”

Americans are becoming more liberal when it comes to marriage equality. That’s the good news. The bad news is that tolerance is no guarantee of Democratic success. And the reason is plain to see: in the matchup between acceptance and fear of same-sex marriage, fear usually wins.

John Stoehr (@johnastoehr) is managing editor of The Washington SpectatorFollow him on Twitter and Medium.

Photo: Patrick Feller via Flickr