Sunday, June 03, 2018

The Libertarian Vote

Because it came up indirectly over at Grim's I looked at the Libertarian vote in the 2016 election.  My reasoning is that some, maybe even many Gary Johnson votes would now happily go for Trump instead. If only a few had switched then, NH and Maine would have gone for Trump.  If most of the Libertarian votes had gone to Trump he would have carried New Mexico, Colorado, Minnesota, and Nevada. I don't think that high a percentage would be anything like guaranteed, but if a non-race suddenly gets close, different people turn out on election day. Even Virginia would be in play, though Johnson's votes would not have been enough to turn the state. Adding Evan McMullin's votes wouldn't be enough, but the Old Dominion suddenly looks darn close.

I don't know if everyone who voted for Trump still would, nor how many others would now show up/not show up.  Conservatives can be irascible and hold grudges, vowing never to vote for a candidate, not because s/he had serious disagreement, but because s/he let them down by not going to the mat over an issue or two that the rest of us would just accept as the unfortunate reality of politics.  Libertarians are that, squared.  I wish they wouldn't do that - but then they wouldn't be who they are. That tendency to dig in over small things may have been one of the best slowers of cultural change over the years.  I think not.  But I have no crystal ball, and they are who they are. An unknown percentage of them would vote Trump today.  I suspect there are almost no defections going the other way at present. No Trump voters who now wish they had cast their vote for Gary Johnson.

The ex-Democrats and stay-at-homes from the Rust Belt states who voted for Trump are another matter. Republicans keep treating them as solid because the job reports are good, but that's just theory. Some may regret their vote now.  He may have picked off all the low-hanging fruit and there aren't many more Michigan votes to be had. If the jobs start trickling away the votes probably will, too.  Still, I would bet that right this minute he would have more converts than defections.


There is another factor: People voting like their neighbors. We see elections in terms of states, but when you look at each state by county, it is impressive how strong the populous city versus less-dense countryside holds up blue-red state by state. The (populous) deep blue and (often empty) deep red counties of New York aren't going to change. Yet look at those pink counties, who now realise that their neighbors didn't vote overwhelmingly for Clinton after all. Even the light blue areas.  Don't we imagine that people in those places had the impression that they were in 65-35 deep blue pockets?  Wasn't that one of those things that everyone just knows? Except it wasn't true. Are those voters encouraged, more willing to speak up now? Will there be more bumper stickers and signs next time?   Oregon, too. There could be some cascade preference.

This is not just speculation, it is based on some real numbers.  However, it is very preliminary, and a hundred things could change it: market crashes, wars, disasters. Still it is worth thinking in this state-by state way.  Nate Silver didn't name his site 538 for nothing.


One more thing:  the youth vote is always deeply influenced by what they think the trend is. The usually show a heavy bandwagon effect. Of those who were 14-17 during the last election, do you think they will be more Democratic than the last batch?  They might, but for what reason?  They might be a Bernie-loving bunch who will follow whatever Pied Piper rises to the top.  Hillary did not capture the youth vote as Obama did, and whoever the Democrats put up next time might do better than she did. But their coming-of-age politically is less poisoned by the idea that "Everyone hates Trump." I forecast that they will be less Democratic than the last cohort.


Christopher B said...

A perspective on the youth vote that I read recently. Part of the reason the youth vote leans heavily Democrat now is not just the old 'no heart/no brain' dictomy. It's also because the current young adult voters are the leading edge of the increasing non-white American population so they have additional reaaons (as of now) to lean Democrat.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, I saw that in City Journal as well. I had forgotten it already. Thank you.

If the black male vote starts to defect, however, I wonder what effect that has on everyone else?

Christopher B said...

I don't think we're going to see a significant number of defections from the Democrats. There may be some high profile talk ala Kanye West and Kim K but I think that is going to be less adoption of GOP identity and more 'Trump is for real and we have to deal with him'. Right now that's a significant difference with the focus of the #Resistance driving the Democrat party. Projecting to 2020, maybe not so much by then. What I think 2020 will tell us is how much the Democrat party will become the de facto black party (more due to their almost monolithic identification as Democrats and less absolute numbers), and if that moves the rest of the WWC and any significant number of other ethnic groups into a stance more favorable to Republicans.

Laura said...

If blacks merely don't show up to vote, then Trump wins, er, bigly; this would also swing the down-ticket results as well. Taking Virginia as an example: Clinton won 88% of the black vote, which was 21% of the voters (slightly higher turnout than whites). Clinton won the state by only 5.34%... so Trump would have taken the state if 1) the black vote had been 76/24 rather than the actual 88/9; or 2) the black turnout had been decreased by 30%, but the margins the same.

If there's a shift among blacks away from the Dems, I would expect it to begin with two signs: first, a few socially prominent blacks making either anti-Democrat or pro-Trump comments and getting away with it (i.e. resisting a public shout-down and maintaining popularity), and second, a noticeable drop in black turnout for one or two elections, as a portion of the electorate gets caught uncomfortably between what they think they ought to do (vote D) and what they actually, sorta, kinda want to do (vote Trump). Likewise, ditto, for the "youth" vote.

Note, I say "Trump" and not "Republican". The Repubs are a lost cause, as far as most of the electorate goes.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Laura. Your characterisation of Republicans is not entirely unfair. Yet some have labored thanklessly in the vineyard these many years, and I would not have their efforts obscured by those who have been less courageous.

Texan99 said...

I'm a libertarian, but I'd never have thrown my vote away on Gary Johnson. Nor would I be likely to close my heart permanently to any candidate over a single betrayal. I always have to balance betrayals on a variety of issues. For many years, the balance hasn't been difficult to calculate, and I've voted straight Republican more or less cheerfully.