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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, June 15, 2018


In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House.  

Many posts have discussed attitudes toward immigrants and various  ethnic and racial groups.

Thomas Edsall at NYT:
Steven Miller and Nicholas Davis, political scientists at Clemson University and Texas A&M, report on poll data collected by the World Values Survey between 1995 and 2011 in their recent paper, “White Outgroup Intolerance and Declining Support for American Democracy”:
Social intolerance of immigrants, those who speak a different language, and those from a different race leads to increased support for strongman rule in the U.S., potential rule of U.S. government by the army, and decreases support for even having a democracy in the U.S.
Intolerance, they continue,
increases white individuals’ openness to undemocratic alternatives — white Americans who exhibit social intolerance are more likely to dismiss the value of separation of powers.
Because the Miller-Davis study is based on survey data collected well before the 2016 election, the two authors write, “our analysis might undersell the strength of the relationship between intolerance and anti-democratic attitudes.”
Their research suggests that anti-democratic attitudes are on the rise. The percentage of whites who qualified as socially intolerant doubled from 12.6 percent in 1995 to 24.9 percent in 2011, when the most recent World Values Survey was conducted. If that rate of increase were to continue, the percentage of whites in 2020 who would qualify as intolerant would be almost a third.
One of Miller and Davis’s most striking findings is that among socially intolerant whites, education heightens hostility to immigrants and fails to moderate the anti-democratic orientation of these white Americans.
Miller and Davis argue that college-educated white Americans who are
prejudiced against ethnolinguistic difference are much more likely to see democracy as empowering these minority groups beyond their numerical endowment, extending rights and liberties to groups that these white Americans see as unwelcome.
How does this operate? The best educated among those already hostile to immigrants are the ones who are best equipped intellectually to recognize that “democracy involves the institutionalized protection of the rights of various minority groups,” which is just what intolerant voters oppose.