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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Cosmopolitans and Traditionalists, Court and Country

Sean Trende writes about a cosmopolitan/traditional divide that corresponds roughly to outsiderism and insiderism:
Where this becomes relevant – indeed, I think this is crucial – is that the leadership of the Republican Party and the old conservative movement is, itself, culturally cosmopolitan. I doubt if many top Republican consultants interact with many Young Earth Creationists on a regular basis. Many quietly cheered the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decisions. Most of them live in blue megapolises, most come from middle-class families and attended elite institutions, and a great many of them roll their eyes at the various cultural excesses of “the base.” There is, in other words, a court/country divide among Republicans.
This has been exacerbated by the crack-up of the Clinton Coalition and the rapid transformation of the Democratic Party into an aggressively culturally cosmopolitan institution (think Bill Clinton to Al Gore to John Kerry to Barack Obama). This change pushed out many of the Jacksonians that formed the backbone of the party for 150 years, creating an influx of lower-middle-class/working-class voters, in turn swelling the ranks of the cultural traditionalists among the Republicans.
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Which brings us to Trump. If there is anything positive I can say about Trump it is this: He gets this cosmopolitan/traditionalist divide, and he is the only candidate who lands foursquare with the traditionalists.
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Take Trump’s speech announcing his candidacy. David Byler and I had no idea what we were onto when David text-mined Trump’s speech and found that his announcement was the only one out of the 15 candidates’ announcements that sounded different. We (and others) took this as a sign of Trump’s quirkiness and a reason Trump wouldn’t last. But we clearly missed the boat. It was actually one of the most important data points of the campaign, and it has a lot to do with why Trump has been successful.