There is considerable evidence that Donald Trump has built his national lead in the Republican president primary on a powerful combination of economic anxiety, frustration with Washington and, in particular, concerns over immigration. Interviews with voters reveal it again and again, and so do public opinion polls.
You can see signs of it in this nifty new Wall Street Journal interactive that shows 4 out of 5 Trump supporters believe immigration (not just illegal immigration — all immigration) hurts the United States more than it helps.
A majority say free trade is bad for America. Other groups of GOP voters look more kindly on trade and immigrants.
A quarter of Republicans said they’re very worried about maintaining that standard of living. And Trump is winning a wide plurality of those voters — 42 percent. Among those who are not worried, he’s only winning 28 percent.
This suggests Trump is playing exceptionally well among the most economically anxious Republican voters.
The poll asked whether immigrants mainly strengthen or weaken American society. Trump barely leads among Republicans who say immigrants strengthen America. But he holds a 33 point lead — commanding a solid majority — among Republicans who strongly believe immigrants weaken society.
Trump also draws a majority of Republicans who say they want a political outsider to be the next president, compared to 18 percent of those who want someone with experience working in the system.
Those numbers suggest that Trump is winning because he has tapped into a particular set of concerns and dominated his rivals on all of them. Indeed, the Post-ABC poll finds a majority of Republicans trust Trump more than any candidate to handle the economy and bring needed change to Washington. A near majority trusts him the most on immigration and on terrorism (an issue he has repeatedly linked to immigration).
He fares worse on the question of which candidate is closest to you on issues in general and which would best handle an international crisis. But those questions do not appear to be moving voters to the same degree.
When Thrush said that some people were comparing Sanders at this stage in the campaign to Obama in 2008, when he beat Clinton, the President pushed back, saying flatly, “No . . . I don’t think that’s true.”
It is much more plausible that the President was sending a supportive message to an embattled candidate whom he sees as the best option to replace him, in order to safeguard the electoral position of the Democratic Party and preserve his legacy as a center-left reformer.
For all the differences they had in 2008, some of which lingered, Obama and Clinton both represent the centrist, pragmatic approach to politics that has dominated the Democratic Party since the nineteen-eighties. A victory for Sanders and his insurgent left-wing populism would represent a sharp break with the moderate tradition. In the opinion of many Democrats in the White House and on Capitol Hill, it would also set up the Party for defeat come November, not just in the Presidential race but in congressional elections. And, from Obama’s perspective, it would place a shadow over his biggest achievements, particularly the Affordable Care Act, which Sanders has described as merely a first step in transforming the health-care system.
If the Republicans win the Presidential election and strengthen their grip on Congress, they are likely to repeal large parts of the Affordable Care Act and roll back many of President Obama’s executive orders in other areas, such as environmental regulation. If Sanders were to become President, he would presumably seek to build on Obama’s policies, but there would still be a significant change in approach. In part to try to prevent either of these things from happening, a number of former Obama Administration officials are working for the Clinton campaign. John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, worked at the White House under Obama. So did Jennifer Palmieri, the Clinton campaign’s director of communications. Joel Benenson, a senior strategist and pollster for the Clinton campaign, carried out a similar role in Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. The Sanders campaign doesn’t have these sorts of personal ties to the White House.
More recently, Sanders has attacked Obama’s political tactics, suggesting that the President had played a Washington insider’s game and failed to mobilize his supporters upon being elected. To win the Presidency, Obama “ran one of the great campaigns in the history of the U.S.A.,” Sanders said in September. “But what happened the day after he was elected? Essentially, in so many words, he said, ‘Thank you, America, for electing me. I’ll take it from here.’ ”
In his conversation with Thrush, Obama didn’t refer to them explicitly, but he issued a pretty withering assessment of the Sanders phenomenon:
Well, there’s no doubt that Bernie has tapped into a running thread in Democratic politics that says, Why are we still constrained by the terms of the debate that were set by Ronald Reagan thirty years ago? Why is it that we should be scared to challenge conventional wisdom and talk bluntly about inequality and be full-throated in our progressivism? And that has an appeal and I understand that. I think that what Hillary presents is a recognition that translating values into governance and delivering the goods is ultimately the job of politics, making a real-life difference to people in their day-to-day lives.
Translation: Bernie is a dreamer, Hillary is a doer. In case anybody missed the point, Obama later repeated it, in slightly different form:
I think that if Bernie won Iowa or won New Hampshire, then you guys are going to do your jobs and you’re going to dig into his proposals and how much they cost and what does it mean, and how does his tax policy work. And he’s subjected, then, to a rigor that hasn’t happened yet, but that Hillary is very well familiar with.
Was the President, in making these comments, being wholly fair to Sanders, his supporters, and his program? I don’t think that he was. But we can only assume that Obama wasn’t trying to be fair—he was trying to persuade Democrats to back his preferred candidate.
he was also acknowledging an uncomfortable reality: Sanders doesn’t merely represent a threat to billionaires and multi-millionaires. The Vermont senator is challenging the entire Democratic Party establishment, of which Obama, the President, is a part.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.