Thursday, December 22, 2016

Trump's Version Of Populism Does Not Sell To New Democratic Base

Trump has been successful in selling himself to Republicans who have suffered the most of changes in the US economy.  Automation and globalization have eliminated many low skilled jobs in the US that paid decent wages and were more plentiful in the past.  The Republican Party traditionally supported free trade and it relied upon on cultural issues that they used as wedges against Democrats who were more liberal on religious social and cultural issues.  Trump captured the Republican electorate, and many Democrats, by attacking free trade and globalization, which had been a key part of Republican ideology, but also by ramping up the attack on liberal values which included multiculturalism and more open borders.  Few Republicans or Democrats thought that Trump would win the GOP primary or the general election.  He won a narrow victory in three Rust Belt states, along with expected victories in Red States,  that enabled him to pull off the upset despite losing the popular vote by 2.8 million.

Trump's electoral success has been accompanied by a dramatic shift in the Republican base.  It no longer places a high value on free trade and it has changed its mind about Russia and Vladimir Putin as well as Wikileaks.  Both are viewed more favorably by the Republican base since they helped Trump to win the general election.  The Democratic base has moved in the opposite direction. It has become more negative towards Russia, Putin and Wikileaks since the revelations about how they helped the Trump campaign.

This article describes the Democratic base and the problems that it will have in future elections.  Hillary Clinton won only 50 counties but they account for the 64% of US GDP.  She destroyed Trump in Santa Clara County which provides a home for many of our high tech firms.  She also defeated Trump by a huge margin in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She also won big victories in almost every major city in the US as well.  These cities contain large numbers of minorities who are a critical part of the Democratic base.  The future of the US economy will be determined by the firms and the workers in the high tech industries that overwhelmingly voted for Clinton.  They support globalization, free trade and more liberal social values.  They will not support the kind of populism promoted by Trump or Bernie Sanders.  The minority voters in our big cities have typically voted for Democrats but they have not been as motivated by the social welfare programs that they identify with the Democratic Party.  For example, access to higher education no longer yields the wage premium that it once did.  We are producing college graduates faster than the demand is growing for high skill jobs. The Democratic Party has to figure out how it can motivate minority voters as well as the voters in the high wage counties that overwhelmingly voted for Clinton and strongly against Trump.

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