Trump Focused on Whites, But at What Cost to the GOP?

The just completed presidential election was, for Donald Trump, a test of the hypothesis that all you need to win are the votes of the shrinking white majority. It worked for him this year. But what Trump did to get those white votes put the Republican Party in a weaker position for future presidential elections.

In this and in upcoming posts, I take a look at election returns with these questions in mind. Did Trump succeed in turning out out a lot of new white voters? How did his divisive rhetoric affect his performance among voters in a portion of the electorate that will be larger in future elections (among Latinos, in particular)? What are the implications for the GOP?

Trump won fewer votes than Romney

This election wasn’t so much about Trump reaching a previously untapped white audience and getting them to the polls. It was more about Democratic constituencies not voting in the numbers of the previous two elections.

Did Donald Trump energize previously untapped voters? Actually he received fewer votes than Romney did in 2012, by a smidge, despite the fact there were nearly 11 million more eligible voters this year than there were in 2012—including 3.2 million new non-Hispanic white eligible voters. According to the exit polls, Trump won 58 percent of the white vote, while Romney picked up 59 percent.

Voter turnout in the past three presidential elections
Voter turnout in the past three presidential elections (data from exit polls)

 

 

Continue reading Trump Focused on Whites, But at What Cost to the GOP?

Trump “Softening” on Immigration? This Might Explain Why

Chart - percent favoring allow to stay

On August 25, the Pew Research Center released a new national poll on American attitudes towards undocumented immigrants. Taking a look at the results, it is not hard to understand Donald Trump’s apparent “softening” on immigration during the same week.

Despite his efforts to paint undocumented immigrants in dark terms, the public overall does not buy Trump’s rhetoric. According to Pew, three-quarters (76 percent) of the public says that undocumented immigrants are as hard-working or as honest as U.S. citizens. Two-thirds (67 percent) say that undocumented immigrants are no more likely than U.S. citizens to commit serious crimes. The wall isn’t all that popular either: 61 percent of the public opposes it.

Pew asked respondents what they thought the priority should be in the government’s handling of illegal immigration. A plurality, 45 percent, said that the government should focus on both “better border security and stronger enforcement” and “creating a way for immigrants already here illegally to become citizens if they meet certain requirements.” An additional 29 percent said that the latter—allowing undocumented immigrants to stay and become citizens—should be the priority. In total, then, 74 percent of the public in this survey favors giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship if conditions are met.

This is consistent with polls taken over the course of the past year. Mr. Trump has been (until a week ago) unrelenting in his efforts to tar all undocumented immigrants with the crimes of a few. It hasn’t had much effect on public attitudes, which have stayed in a range of 55 percent to 84 percent in favor of allowing undocumented immigrants to stay.

Someone in Trump’s camp must occasionally look at polls, and someone perhaps told him that the public doesn’t buy his line on immigrants. So why continue to press it? A softer stance, though, upsets his base. We’ve watched his position ping pong back and forth, “soft” and “hard,” until he indeed accomplished one campaign promise: he’s made our heads spin.

More detail on public attitudes on a path to citizenship for the undocumented, as measured in polls over the past year, can be found in this paper I wrote for the National Immigration Forum

Trump Helps Shape Latino View of Republican Party

LatinoViewGOP

Last month, I wrote about how Donald Trump has polled among Latinos over the past year. His pronouncements on immigration and Mexican immigrants have made him very unpopular with Latinos. While Trump almost seems to relish turning people against him, his Latino problem goes beyond damage to his campaign—it is affecting the way Latinos view the Republican Party. Trump is not exactly an ambassador for the party. In this post, I’ll look back over the past year’s worth of polling of Latinos in the U.S., and focus on attitudes towards the GOP.

The first poll of Latino voters that was released after Trump’s campaign launch was conducted by Univision Notices and was partially conducted prior to Trump’s speech. The majority of respondents (52%) questioned prior to Trump’s campaign launch already had an unfavorable view of the Republican Party. However, the party’s unfavorable rating ticked up after Trump made his announcement—to 56 percent. In this survey, 92 percent of respondents said they thought the immigration issue was “very” (72 percent) or “somewhat” (20 percent) important in considering their vote. A majority (52 percent) said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who opposed legalizing undocumented immigrants.

Continue reading Trump Helps Shape Latino View of Republican Party

A Pyrrhic Victory

CourtDecision copy

On June 23, the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 in a case brought by the state of Texas and 25 other states against President Obama’s executive action that would have temporarily protected from deportation the undocumented parents of U.S. citizen children. At issue as well was an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). (The original DACA program, which has successfully protected hundreds of thousands of young people, was not the subject of this litigation.) As a result of the deadlock, a lower court’s temporary injunction against the executive actions remains in place.

The decision was an extreme disappointment for advocates for immigrants and for about five million undocumented immigrants who have lived here for many years, working and raising their families in a legal limbo.

The Supreme Court’s decision was a victory for the Republican governors and attorneys general who brought the lawsuit, and it demonstrated that shopping for the right judge can bring the desired decision. (That, and having a Senate that has stopped doing its job, refusing to consider the President’s nominee for the Supreme Court, making a 4-4 deadlock possible.)

But it is a pyrrhic victory. It preserves the status quo, for now. It’s worth repeating something I wrote a year and a half ago when the injunction was first issued.

Continue reading A Pyrrhic Victory

Donald Trump’s Latino Problem

It was a bit over a year ago that Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency with his now famous tirade against Mexican immigrants. Out of the gate, Trump alienated a rapidly-growing constituency—Latinos. In the first public opinion survey of Latino voters after Trump’s entry into the race, conducted by Univision Noticias in June and July of last year, 71 percent of respondents said their view of Trump was unfavorable. In a matchup with Hillary Clinton, just 16 percent of Latinos said they would vote for Trump.

So, what’s happened in the year during which Trump has gone from being a candidate to being the presumptive nominee?

Trump chart

Another survey in July of 2015 of Latino adults, conducted by The Washington Post-ABC News, showed that 81 percent of Latinos viewed trump unfavorably. 64 percent of respondents in this poll had strongly unfavorable views of Trump.

In September, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal conducted a national poll with an oversample of Latinos, and 72 percent of those Latinos said they had negative feelings towards Trump, with 65 percent having strongly negative feelings. This poll showed an uptick in support for Trump in a matchup with Clinton—a whopping 17 percent said they would vote for Trump.

Continue reading Donald Trump’s Latino Problem

Rep. Smith Expands His Climate Change Inquisition

Melting Glacier

There was an article in the New York Times on May 23 about developments in a story I’ve been following and writing about here. To recap: There are allegations that Exxon Mobile deliberately misled the public about the impact of fossil fuel burning on the climate, and New York’s Attorney General opened an investigation to determine what Exxon Mobile was telling the public, and whether that was consistent with what the company’s own scientists were reporting from their research. If Exxon Mobile knew that the burning of fossil fuels was contributing to a warming climate, but was telling the public that science was inconclusive on the mater, they were deceiving not only the public, but shareholders.

In April, I noted that more states were joining in the investigation.

Now, The New York Times reports that shareholders are beginning to question whether Exxon Mobil is being realistic in assessing the growth in demand for oil. Shareholders want the company to consider the impact of policy changes that may be enacted to slow the pace of climate change. These concerns are being expressed not just by small activist investors, but by large institutions such as the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, New York City’s pension fund, and the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, according to The Times. These shareholders have demanded a vote at the company’s annual meeting on a resolution calling for Exxon Mobile to publish an annual assessment of the impact of various climate change policies.

Continue reading Rep. Smith Expands His Climate Change Inquisition

Update: More States Join Lawsuit on Climate Deception

Back in November, I wrote a commentary contrasting two political inquiries on climate change. In Congress, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, who chairs the Science, Space and Technology Committee and who has received generous support from oil and gas industries, is conducting an inquisition of researchers and administrators of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He is trying to find information to support his claim that a study by Thomas Karl of NOAA was politically motivated. The Karl study found that there has been no hiatus in global warming in the first part of this century as climate change deniers have claimed.

Smith has continued with his inquisition, and in a recent hearing, he claimed that a new paper published in the journal Nature “confirms the halt in global warming.”

Actually, the paper did no such thing, at least according to John Fyfe, the lead author of the paper in an email to FactCheck.org. Michael Mann of Penn State University, another author on the Nature paper, said in an open letter to Representative Smith that the Nature paper “does NOT support the notion of a ‘pause’ in global warming, only a *temporary slowdown*, which was due to natural factors, and has now ended.” (In fact, last year was the warmest year on record, beating the record set just a year earlier by a considerable margin.)

These days, though, Congressional hearings are not meant to gather the best information to inform policies that will help our country solve its challenges. Committees invite witnesses who will support the political views of the committee chairman. These types of hearings have little shelf life beyond a news cycle.

While Representative Smith takes quotes out of context to support his climate change denial, New York State’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman continues with his investigation into the energy giant Exxon. That investigation began after a series of articles published in the Los Angeles Times and Inside Climate News revealed that Exxon’s own scientists were aware of the impact of the burning of fossil fuels on the earth’s climate, but the company spent years sowing doubt about climate science. As I said in November, Schneiderman’s investigation might have more of an impact on the climate change debate than Mr. Smith’s little inquisition, especially if other states joined the effort. That collective effort appears to be underway.

Continue reading Update: More States Join Lawsuit on Climate Deception

Immigration and Japan’s Declining Economy

Japanese worker

I saw that this post on IZA World of Labor about the Japanese economy. It has again slipped into recession. Why? An aging workforce, and very low immigration.

Japan just doesn’t have enough workers to fill available jobs. The unemployment rate is at a long-term low of 3.4 percent. For every job seeker, there are 1.24 job openings. Japan’s worker shortage, according to the Wall Street Journal, will cost the country $86 billion in 2015 and 2016, or 2 percent of the country’s GDP.

Japan’s aversion to immigration has been a slowly developing disaster. Japan ranks 3rd in the world in median age of its population: 46.1 years. Immigrants could bring down the median age of the workforce and help alleviate the worker shortage. However, today foreign-born workers constitute just 1 percent of the Japanese workforce.

Here in the U.S., immigrants make up 16.5 percent of the workforce. Undocumented immigrants here make up a far greater percentage of our workforce than all foreign labor in Japan: 5.1 percent. The median age in the U.S. is 37.6.

Still, our policies aren’t keeping up with the times. Congress last adjusted our immigration levels a quarter century ago, in 1990. Since that time, the GDP of our economy has doubled. And it looks like Congress will not act any time soon to modernize our immigration system.

Photo credit: Stephen Geyer via Flickr and the Creative Commons license.

Climate Change: No (Political) Consensus

Exxon Capitol

There may be a scientific consensus on the science of climate change, but the political battle over the subject rages on.

Currently, Congressional supporters of the climate change deniers control the committees, and so are in a good position to attack the federal agencies that conduct research into climate change. That is exactly what is happening.

Over in the House of Representatives, Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has been conducting an inquisition of researchers and administrators at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Smith wants copies of documents and internal communications at NOAA that have to do with a study it released in June, which determined that a so-called “hiatus” in global warming since 1998 has not taken place. The study examines a huge amount of surface temperature data to update global temperature data sets.

Smith claims that NOAA “changed” the data for political convenience.

Global Warming Hiatus and Cherry-Picking Data

For several years now, climate change deniers, cherry picking the unusually warm year of 1998 as their starting point, have claimed that, since temperatures have not continued to rise after that year at the pace of prior years, there is no global warming. Smith claims that satellite data shows there is no global warming. (In any event, Smith is working off of old talking points, as 2014 now ranks as the warmest year on record, and 2015 may top last year’s record.)

Actually, there are three sets of satellite data from different sources. Only one, from a research group at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, has shown a lack of warming. The other two sets do indicate continuous global warming. In any event, the very large surface temperature data sets used in the NOAA study are considered more reliable. The analysis of the surface temperature data has concluded that there has been no global warming “hiatus.” Other studies have come to similar conclusions. Those studies are publicly available, with explanations of their methodology. Continue reading Climate Change: No (Political) Consensus

Clean Power to Your Home: Cost and Benefits (Part III)

WindEmissionsReport

In two previous posts, I talked about how easy it is to purchase electricity generated from renewable sources if your state offers consumer choice in electricity. The first post told you how to find out if your state offers consumer choice, and how to get started in choosing your electricity. The second post in this series walked you through the process of switching.

Here I will review the cost compared to what I would pay if I let Pepco choose my electric supply for me, and what would be my power mix if I did not switch.

My electric supplier is WGL Energy—formerly Washington Gas Energy Services. They were an early supplier of green energy options, and I learned about them several years ago at the Washington Green Festival.

My latest contract was renewed at 12.3 cents per kilowatt-hour, increasing a bit from last year’s 11.8 cents per kilowatt-hour. (You can probably do better if you are newly switching, as companies offer enticing prices for new customers.) On my last bill, covering late June/early July (a hot stretch in which our A/C got a workout), I was charged for 744 kilowatt-hours. WGL charged me 11.8 cents x 744 kilowatt-hours = $87.79. At the time, the standard issue service cost 9.14 cents per kilowatt-hour. (Standard issue service cost actually fluctuates slightly between summer and winter months.) My extra cost was $19.79 for the month.

For that, I am getting 100 percent wind-generated electricity, and the carbon emissions from electricity I am buying is zero. The fuel mix for standard offer service, as of the last time it was calculated for Pepco customers, is coal (43.5 percent), followed by nuclear power (34.7 percent) and natural gas (17.5 percent). Only 4 percent is generated from renewable sources. That $19.79 for the month is my environmental premium with WGL. The price of Standard Offer Service goes up and down, as does the price of wind power (though you are protected from price fluctuations for the length of your contract, if you have a fixed-price contract).

Continue reading Clean Power to Your Home: Cost and Benefits (Part III)

Commentary on immigration and environmental policy