What Voters Care About Ain’t Aligned With GOP

Jonathan ChaitEvery time I have to go out of town, caring for Frankly Curious becomes a hectic mess. I really like having real people with real money wanting my attention, but I do miss being totally in charge of my time. So you will forgive me if I make this one really short. But I found the most amazing table over on a Jonathan Chait article, Donald Trump Is Going to Lose Because He Is Crazy. But don’t worry, this is not a post about Trump. In fact, I have to admit that I’m getting really tired of other bloggers of my persuasion and popularity focusing so much on him.

This table shows where the American people are on two issues: immigration and Social Security (SS). It shows what I’ve long maintained: Democratic and Republican voters are all pretty liberal when it comes to the economy. But let’s look at the table, which I have recreated because the one that Chait provides is almost unreadable.

Increase SS Maintain SS Decrease SS
Large Immigration Decrease 13.0% 8.1% 1.4%
Small Immigration Decrease 11.0% 8.0% 1.0%
Maintain Immigration 20.0% 20.0% 2.4%
Small Immigration Increase 4.4% 4.7% 0.8%
Large Immigration Increase 2.1% 1.8% 0.6%

So what the people want is for immigration to stay where it is or to be decreased — in many cases by a lot. This is the opposite of what the elites want. They want a lot more immigration. In general, that’s good for the economy. But it is also good (at least in the short term) for keeping wages down. And then on Social Security, we have a majority that wants to see it raised. Only 6.2% want to see Social Security cut, yet every Republican presidential candidate other than Trump wants to cut it (generally by raising the retirement age).

Here is Chait’s overview of what’s going on, which I think is exactly right:

Both parties contain ranges of opinions within them. And both are run by elites who have more socially liberal and economically conservative views than their own voters. (There are plenty of anti-abortion, anti-immigration, anti-same-sex-marriage Democrats not represented by their leaders.) But the tension between base and elite runs deeper in the Republican Party. Conservative leaders tend to care very little about conservative social policy, or even disagree with it altogether. Conservatives care a great deal about cutting the top tax rate, deregulating the financial industry, and, ideally, reducing spending on social insurance — proposals that have virtually no authentic following among the rank and file.

My question is why the voters don’t wake up. I understand why Democrats don’t: what are they going to do? The Democrats offer the best deal. But if the Republican voters would abandon their party, we could have a real choice on the economic issues that everyone cares the most about. But instead, we have every major Republican contender (sans Trump, of course) — from Jeb Bush to Scott Walker to Ben Carson — calling for cuts in Social Security. They are all united against immigration, but decreasing it doesn’t even get a majority. Social Security is the big issue and the Republican establishment hates it.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “What Voters Care About Ain’t Aligned With GOP

  1. Very good article, which raises the questions of just how socially conservative the Republican base must actually be.

    One can indeed only imagine, but one can go very far:

    — Would it support a constitutional ban upon all artificial contraception, not merely abortion?
    — Would it support zero net immigration?
    — Would it support the sort of rigid movie and entertainment censorship found under the Hays Code of the New Deal?
    — Would it support bans on all restrictions upon firearm ownership (this is one where courtesy of the Supreme Court they could get their way)
    — Would it support reversing ‘Brown v. Board of Education’?

    • I think they mostly would. Republican elites want to keep a lot of these things, however. For example, making every election about abortion is no doubt good for Republicans.

      If the GOP wanted its base to be in favor of “separate but equal,” it would only take a couple of policy reorientations over a couple of years.

      Interesting blog you have!

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