Live from the Republicans' Self-Made Gehenna: Calling Noah Smith! Calling Noah Smith! Drive down to Stanford's Hoover Institution this afternoon and make Niall Ferguson put his money where is mouth is: make him bet you even odds on Trump vs. Clinton. Then lay off your risk by hedging with a normal person. The arbitrage profits will keep you in Lagunitas IPA for the rest of your life...
As a fly to a wanton boy is Niall Ferguson to Josh Barro...
Niall Ferguson, bored of writing that inflation statistics are cooked, is now doing low-quality election punditry. https://t.co/TmRhMl3iJn— Josh Barro (@jbarro) August 3, 2016
@jbarro It was very nice of you Americans to take him in. We were quite sick of him back here.— Borners (@Borners1) August 3, 2016
@jbarro you know what we need? America to take up the mantle of Empire! o sorry, it's About Trump now...— The Creek (@Ithancreek) August 3, 2016
The problem with Niall Ferguson is that America--even white America--is not politically divided into a small Democratic "cognitive elite" living in "Belmont" and a large Republican "new lower class" living in "Fishtown". Outside of the south, CNN tells us, Hillary Rodham Clinton is even with Trump among white Americans and leading by roughly 68%-points--yes, that is sixty-eight--among the three-tenths of the electorate that says it is non-white.
She is behind by roughly 22%-points among Southern whites--who are, increasingly, acting like a very separate ethnicity (and 40%-points behind, perhaps, among Southern white males--suggesting white females are close). Why the difference? Because the "Fishtowns" of the Northeast, Midwest, and West are, increasingly, multi-racial communities. And in them the white nationalist hate of a Donald Trump does not have that much purchase:
Niall Ferguson: Fishtown vs. Belmont, 2016:
The white population of the United States, he argued, is more polarized than at any time in the past half century...
On the one hand there is a “cognitive elite,” who are educated together at universities like Harvard and Yale, then marry each other, work together, and live together in the same exclusive neighborhoods... “super zipcodes” such as Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Malibu, Manhattan, and Boston... more liberal than the national average, as well as much richer and more inclined to eat quinoa salads. On the other side of this social chasm is a new lower class: white Americans with nothing more than a high school diploma, if that. They eat Chick-fil-A....
In a masterstroke of exposition, Murray vividly localized his argument by imagining two emblematic communities: Belmont, where everyone has at least one university degree, and Fishtown, where no one has any.... Murray’s disgruntled white lower class has now found its “voice” and his name... is Donald Trump. The declining, dangerous country that Trump described in his supposedly “dark” acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was Fishtown writ large....
Though mostly a hatchet job on Trump, Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech offered a further helping of this Kool-Aid: “We have the most dynamic and diverse people in the world … America is great because America is good.”
But that’s not how it looks in Fishtown. Since 2005, according to a new report by McKinsey, more than four fifths of population (81 percent) have had flat or falling incomes. The white lower class is in the grip of an epidemic of ill health and premature death. And that is why Trump leads Clinton in seven out of the ten most recent national polls by between one and seven percentage points...
I must interrupt: that is a phenomenally stupid sentence to write knowing that it will be published not during the Trump-bounce period between the Republican and Democratic National Conventions but, rather, on August 2, after both. That is not just how the race looks now, or has looked over the past two months.
Positively and highly unprofessional:
He goes on:
Can Trump succeed where Romney failed? Yes.... Fishtown... is voting for Trump... [and] has one big advantage over Belmont: numbers. Maybe the Obama “rainbow coalition” will come together again for the first female presidential candidate. But there’s an almost equally strong probability that it’s the turn of Belmont itself--the elite America that Hillary Clinton personifies--to come apart.
And MOAR intellectual garbage collection:
Scott Lemieux: Fresh Insights From the Poor Man's Mark Penn:
It has been a while since we have discussed Niall Ferguson’s descent from respected academic into subpar hack Republican pundit. But I can't resist sharing with this with you. It wasn’t so much “phoned in” as “staggered into the room and collapsed on the couch after its ninth martini”:
In his brilliant and prophetic 2011 book, “Coming Apart,’’ my friend Charles Murray…
… identified the stark social division that is defining this year’s presidential election. Murray’s book was unabashedly about “the state of white America.”
Yes, this election is certainly about nothing but white America.
On the one hand there is a “cognitive elite,” who are educated together at universities like Harvard and Yale, then marry each other, work together, and live together in the same exclusive neighborhoods.
Concentrated in “super zipcodes” such as Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Malibu, Manhattan, and Boston, these people are politically more liberal than the national average, as well as much richer and more inclined to eat quinoa salads.
Here’s the thing: in the context of a national election, dwelling on “super zip codes” and Ivy League grads is silly. The jurisdictions cited above more or less guarantee, at most, less than 20% of the electoral college and 6 whole Senate seats. No national party is going to get very far just appealing to “super zip codes.” And even that aside, the argument is still bullshit. In 2012, Obama carried every single county in Massachusetts — running against the state’s former governor — a majority of counties and almost every congressional district in New York, and based on a quick count 40 out of 52 congressional districts in California. It’s not as if the Democratic party appeals exclusively to wealthy inhabitants of a few urban and suburban neighborhoods in these states. And — TRUE STORY! — even outside of the Back Bay and Williambsurg and Malibu and the like, there are people in these states who no do not subsist entirely on iceberg lettuce, Burger King, and Tim Allen sitcoms.
OK, I’m being a little unfair here; no matter how far gone he is, surely Ferguson isn’t going to give us one of those ultra-hacky “snooty, coffee-drinking urban elitists eat [foodstuff that sounded vaguely exotic 20 years ago and now can be found at pretty much every supermarket in Omaha] which shows how out of touch they are with Real Americans” deals, is he? I mean…
On the other side of this social chasm is a new lower class: white Americans with nothing more than a high school diploma, if that. They eat Chick-fil-A, not quinoa.
It’s like, how much more hacky can this be, and the answer is none. None more hacky. And I’m not sure what amuses me more — the idea that nobody outside of a few snooty zip codes as ever heard of quinoa, or that people in prestigious areas don’t eat fast food. (Shake Shack — a chain with perfectly decent burgers of comparable quality to Smashburger or Five Guys or whatever — not only generates huge lines and hype but has a star in the New York Times fer Chrissakes. Perhaps people in SUPER ZIP CODES spend more time feeding themselves guff about how the fast food chains they like transcend the genre or something, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like them.)
Fast forward five years. Murray’s disgruntled white lower class has now found its “voice” and his name, as you have probably guessed, is Donald Trump.
Except, of course, that this is just nonsense. Trump’s supporters have above-median incomes — sometimes considerably so — in literally every state. Donald Trump’s support is not largely about Fishtown. It is also explained to a much greater degree by racial anxiety than by economic anxiety. Why, it’s almost making me distrust Charles Murrary’s broad generalizations about fictional communities as an explanatory force for presidential election voting behavior!
Ferguson also believes Trump has a very good chance of winning, which is very reassuring. Sample analysis:
The second is the extent to which Trump will succeed in mobilizing white voters. There were 129 million votes cast in the 2012 election, of which 93 million (72 percent) were cast by white voters. Mitt Romney won 59 percent of those votes to Obama’s 39 percent, but still lost. However, if Romney had won a shade over 62 percent of the white vote he would have won the popular vote. To have won Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Iowa — and hence the electoral college and the presidency — he would have needed to do better than that, but not much better.
The thing is, the United States also has non-white voters who can potentially be mobilized. There are more of them than there were in 2012, which is why Republicans are aggressively trying to keep them from the polls. Oddly, Ferguson ignores them. I think I know why.
I leave the final word to Elon Green:
@elongreen: This is the worst sentence in recorded history.
What is the sentence? This:
@nfergus: The 2016 election is quinoa against Chick-fil-A.