FiveThirtyEight’s maxi-Nate puzzles over how he got Trump so wrong:
MAY 4, 2016 AT 2:51 AMDiminishing returns to continuing to promote policies that were fairly successful in the past (much less ones that were obviously unsuccessful, such as the Iraq War).
By Nate Silver
… To me, the most surprising part of Trump’s nomination — which is to say, the part I think I got wrongest — is that Trump won the nomination despite having all types of deviations from conservative orthodoxy. He seemed wobbly on all parts of Reagan’s three-legged stool: economic policy (he largely opposes free trade and once advocated for a wealth tax and single-payer health care), social policy (consider his constant flip-flopping over abortion), and foreign policy (he openly mocked the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq War, which is still fairly popular among Republicans). …
But whereas Cruz offered a mix of anti-establishment-ism and movement conservatism — and whereas Marco Rubio offered movement conservatism plus a strong claim to electability — Trump’s main differentiator was doubling down on cultural grievance: grievances against immigrants, against Muslims, against political correctness, against the media, and sometimes against black people and women. And the strategy worked. It’s a point in favor of those who see politics as being governed by cultural identity — a matter of seeking out one’s “tribe” and fitting in with it — as opposed to carefully calibrating one’s position on a left-right spectrum.To update James Carville’s advice to Bill Clinton: It’s the immigration, stupid, same as in the rest of the world’s elections the last couple of years.
Loose immigration policies tribalize domestic politics. When elites team up to import tribalist foreigners to lower their own citizens’ wages and to vote against the natives’ interests (and, now and then, murder them), why is it surprising when the poor dumb natives eventually get the message that they need a tribe of their own, too?
A methodological shortcoming of the various Nates’ models of American politics is that they ignored evidence from abroad. It has been pretty obvious from recent elections in Denmark, Australia, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Germany, France, and so forth that immigration policy is a hot issue in the world today — even in Canada, where Justin Trudeau rode a spasm of sentimentality and smugness into office.
But these models ignore what voters are seeing on TV about the Camp of the Saints, terrorism, and sexual assault abroad. Instead, crimethink kicks in among pundits: protective stupidity about immigration policy as a subject that only bad people ever think about except in terms of ethnocentric schmaltz.