Wednesday, March 03, 2021

David Shor's 2020 Analysis

I just listened to an interview (Razib Khan again) with David Shor, who I had not previously heard of.  He is a Democratic analyst and a socialist, but he is also a hardheaded data geek who is not interested in what electoral reality should be, but what it is. His updated analysis of the 2020 election and Democratic chances for 2022 are fascinating. He thinks things look bleak for the Democrats, and their best hope is to add DC and Puerto Rico as states. He got fired from his last progressive job for a supposedly racist tweet, which is simply ridiculous, as even the very-liberal Vox reports.

The interview is in New York magazine's "Intelligencer" section. If you remember my rule that groups that put "truth" in their title and are always talking about how truthful they are are more likely to be merely asserting their opinions as fact or even lying, then you can start applying a similar rule about organisations that announce how smart they are.  That they call this column "Intelligencer" does not provide any evidence that they are actually smarter than you.  But it does tell you that it is very important to them to think so. As you follow along, you can hear the wishful thinking in the tone of the interviewer, and the easy assumptions that they are just simply right, and how do we convince all those people who don't get it? Shor isn't buying it. His attitude is "Do you want to win, short term and long term?  Here's how you do it. No, I didn't ask you whether you liked it or not."

If it wasn't obvious, I think Shor's analysis is likely spot-on.

Though focused on different types of answers, this is similar to Jonathan Haidt's attitude toward persuading people to vote Democratic in The Righteous Mind. He's just telling you what will work.  I recall Rush Limbaugh used to laugh about doing this in the 90s, gleefully offering Democrats advice on how to win because he knew they wouldn't do it, especially if it came from him. I have similar advice, actually. I can tell the Democrats what their best long-term program is to secure power over the next ten years: stop speaking contemptuously and condescendingly, and don't support media that does.  That's it.  That has been the biggest driver of conservatism (or at least anti-liberalism) over the last thirty years.  America tends to be centrist, somewhat center-right. They want things to go along nicely and fair play to be in place, and they dislike people getting angry about politics all the time.  Their support for conservative ideas is real, but tepid and easily overruled. Trump's spending is excellent evidence that conservatives don't care deeply about reducing it.  His lack of interest in socially conservative issues was apparent.  Mostly what he did was push back against the slings and arrows directed against conservatives and told them they were fine, and in fact the key to the country.  That's about all it took for them to believe in America again and go about their jobs.  It worked a treat.

Glenn Reynolds used to say that "All the Democrats have to do to win is not be crazy.  And they can't manage it."  I would only modify that to "All the Democrats have to do to win is be decent and polite.  And they can't manage it.  Hatred is apparently too rewarding."  A Razib Khan anecdote: he was speaking to a New York reporter who was complaining that he couldn't get people at Trump rallies to identify themselves and go on record. "Well, they know you're from New York magazine, they think that you hate them," Razib said. The reporter protested "But I would try to be objective." Razib countered "But you do hate them," and when the journalist acknowledged that, he said "They know that. That's why they won't talk to you. The only ones who will talk to you are the ones who are a little crazy, so that's who you'll write about.  And your audience will love it."


james said...

"Now, how we should campaign and what we should do once in office are different questions. Our immigration system is a humanitarian crisis, and we should do something about that. But the point of public communication should be to win votes. And the way that you do that is to not trigger ideological polarization."

That sounds a lot like "Don't tell people what we want to do."

Sam L. said...

As I KEEP saying, I don't know if the media is/are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Dem Party, or if it's the other way round, but it's OBVIOUS to me that THEY are in CAHOOTS.

Christopher B said...

james, there could be some congruence for Democrats there because our immigration system is a nightmare. We allow far too much uncontrolled migration, and far too little legal migration. The center-right solution would be to strengthen and improve the system to allow more immigration in a controlled manner. This regularly polls well. People support both increased legal migration but also strong border control. Powerline has a post today with some poll results on this issue.

The problem is largely that certain groups benefit greatly from having large numbers of people with uncertain legal status in the country, as it tends to depress wages as well as providing a group that needs political protection from law enforcement.

james said...

@Christopher: We have some family experience with the immigration nightmare aspects--changing rules without notice, "losing" documentation that has to be refiled (w/ fees), hours nominally open but actually not, etc.

james said...

BTW AVI, do you have a source for the Razib quote?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I took it directly from his podcast interviewing Shor. I would have to be a paid subscriber to get a transcript.