Count me skeptical.
These are the same people that all but assured us of Hillary's victory in 2016. For example, the New York Times' Upshot blog gave her an 85% chance of winning. Others made similar predictions--indeed, a lot of us Republicans expected it to be an early and disappointing night.
But they were wrong in 2016. Nate Silver, of FiveThirtyEight, offered a lengthy postmortem of that election.
Why, then, had so many people who covered the campaign been so confident of Clinton’s chances?...[T]he answers are potentially a lot more instructive for how to cover Trump’s White House and future elections than the ones you’d get by simply blaming the polls for the failure to foresee the outcome. They also suggest there are real shortcomings in how American politics are covered, including pervasive groupthink among media elites, an unhealthy obsession with the insider’s view of politics, a lack of analytical rigor, a failure to appreciate uncertainty, a sluggishness to self-correct when new evidence contradicts pre-existing beliefs, and a narrow viewpoint that lacks perspective from the longer arc of American history.This seems true enough. But all the listed sins--groupthink, obsession, sluggishness, and narrow vision--are even more in evidence now than ever. Indeed, not only have the media not taken Mr. Silver's advice, they've fallen into all-out Trump Derangement Syndrome, apparently no longer able to distinguish fantasy from reality. Of course Trump has pwned them relentlessly, inspiring them to ever greater levels of irrationality.
So their predictions of a Blue Wave are likely wishful thinking.
For that matter, there is cause to think we might be on the cusp of a Red Wave. That certainly is the opinion of Newt Gingrich. Let's examine the evidence in favor.
Polling is a difficult business these days. Landlines have all but disappeared, and there's no such thing as a phone book anymore. Even area codes no longer mean anything. And then people are less willing to answer personal questions from strangers.
These problems have been around for awhile, and pollsters have adjusted. Sometimes polls are taken online, which introduces a whole new set of difficulties. The key problem is collecting a random, representative sample. Pollsters weight their samples to ensure that the views of different demographics are fairly represented. The weights are based on past experience.
The problem is that past experience is no longer a reliable guide. Trump--the Great Disrupter--has completely upended the American political scene. Post-Trump, blue-collar workers have become a solid, Republican constituency. Even AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka these days has positive things to say about the president. This is qualitatively different from the past. Yes--we used to talk about Reagan Democrats, but that was a minority of the blue-collar crowd. Unlike Reagan, Trump has completely refashioned the demographics of the Republican Party.
The commentariat recognizes Trump's blue-collar support, but they usually preface it with the word white, as in "white, blue-collar voters." I think this blinds them to the fact that many Latinos and Blacks are also blue-collar, and can vote their class interest along with their ethnic interest. Pollsters, concentrating as they do on ethnicity, also miss the trend.
This is most evidently happening among Latinos. A special election to fill a Texas state senate seat in a majority Latino district led to a Republican winning that seat for the first time in 139 years. (Yes--I know--all special elections are special. In this case there were only 50,000 votes cast in a district with a population of 800,000. But the Dems keep touting their special election victories, so why can't the GOP?)
Republican Will Hurd represents the Rio Grande Valley, an overwhelmingly Hispanic congressional district, and his reelection chances are now nearly assured. Likewise, Democrat Donna Shalala, running in a Miami-based, majority Hispanic, congressional district that Hillary carried by 19 points, now looks to be losing.
I think it's pretty clear why many Latinos like Trump--immigration. After all, that illiterate, traumatized single mother from El Salvador released by ICE pending a court date a year from now, will not be moving to Scarsdale, Berkeley or Ann Arbor. No--she'll settle in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood, her children will join an immigrant street gang, and her income will come from tax dollars. Failing that, if she does get a job she's competing against citizens--e.g., citizens from the Rio Grande Valley who have lived here since before the Mayflower.
The Rio Grandians may not like the wall (that goes right through the middle of their neighborhood), but they like foreign immigrants a whole lot less. Of course they'll vote for Trump!
For Blacks it is more speculative. If approximately 30% of Blacks fit the stereotype--living off welfare in the ghetto--that means 70% don't live that way. They've joined the middle class--however tenuously--and moved to the suburbs or down south. From my old haunts in Chicago I know this for a fact. Woodlawn (directly adjacent to my alma mater, the University of Chicago) was a classic Black ghetto like what you now see in movies from the 1970s. Today it's mostly abandoned--civilized people have all moved away.
They moved to get away from the crime and gangs. They moved to a place where they could buy a house, however modest. They moved to a place where their kids could go to school without getting shot. They moved to neighborhoods like where I currently live (majority Black), where there is absolutely zero gangland graffiti.
So Maxine Waters (D-Street Gangs) and Black Lives Matter, who are the political wing of the street gang movement, are not popular among these folks. Waters and BLM speak for the ghetto 30%, not the civilized 70%. Trump and the Republicans are appealing directly to that civilized 70%.
- HBCU presidents are remarkably sympathetic toward Trump.
- A significant number of Black pastors have come out in favor of Trump.
- A few celebrities (e.g., Kanye West) have endorsed Trump.
- Blacks are culturally much more conservative than white Democrats. They tend to oppose both abortion and gay marriage.
The commentariat, because of Mr. Silver's list of sins, can't see any of this. They assume Latinos won't vote their economic interest. They assume Black people must love high crime and street gangs. Trump's digs against Maxine Waters may inspire a few white racists, as liberals maintain. But his main audience are Black folks--civilized people--who understand that law & order is important for their well-being.