Friday, 29 April 2016

Shot or poisoned? Does the choice of Trump or Cruz really matter?

Reprinted from The Conversation April 29, 2016 6.04am EDT

Trump or Cruz? Whom to choose? REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
When asked to choose between the candidacies of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina, remarked,
It’s like being shot or poisoned. What does it really matter?
But, in fact, it really does matter for the Republican Party.
Lindsey Graham. REUTERS/Brian C. Frank
Based on a survey taken before the Iowa caucus, voters see Cruz as the most orthodox neoconservative candidate on issues such as trade liberalization, taxes and shrinking the role of government. Simultaneously, he represents a slightly less authoritarian choice. By contrast, Trump is seen as taking a more moderate economic stance on trade and taxes, but a more extreme position on authoritarian values.
Most importantly for the electoral fortunes of the GOP, both candidates are located some distance away from the position of the median American voter.
Clearly, candidate positions evolve. Nominated candidates usually pivot toward the center in the general election. Nevertheless, candidates are often unable to ditch the image about their positions which were first formed in the public mind during the primary season.
If there is a contested Republican convention – a prospect which looks increasingly unlikely – delegates will probably support a candidate based on their positions and who is regarded as the least-bad electoral risk.
Two rival interpretations about the basis of support for the candidates are commonly heard. Let’s consider both:

Interpretation #1: It’s the economy

Numerous commentators regard both Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as economic populists with strongest support among those who are economically struggling and dissatisfied with growing social inequality.
Economists like Dani Rodrik blame globalization for rising populism and the politics of anger. In this thesis, blue collar and less educated voters have grown weary of growing income disparities, stagnant or falling wages, lack of corporate accountability for the 2008 financial crisis and the continued exodus of manufacturing jobs overseas. Researchers at The Hamilton Project found that American men without a college degree, in particular, have fared poorly in loss of real wages since 1990.
Washington Post reporters Max Ehrenfreund and Scott Clement found that Republicans worried about maintaining their economic situation are more likely to support Trump. It is thought that anti-establishment pitchforks are directed against both parties because Congress is perceived to continually promise job growth and rising living standards while in practice kowtowing to corporate donors, favoring trade liberalization and expanding tax loopholes for the rich.
From this perspective, Cruz provides an extreme version of Reaganesque economic orthodoxy on free trade, while Trump has trampled upon these neoconservative nostrums, such as by suggesting taxes on Chinese imports.
Likewise among Democrats. Sanders' appeal to white, younger voters is often attributed to his progressive economic mantra of tackling income inequality, cleaning up campaign finance, reducing student debt and taking on Wall Street. His campaign has been a one-note angry shout for the “have-nots” against the “haves.” Hillary Clinton’s speeches have gradually tacked closer to Sanders on these issues, although she is saddled with her husband’s legacy of NAFTA.

Interpretation #2: It’s cultural backlash

The alternative argument suggests that popular support for Trump taps most deeply into a cultural backlash, rather than any economic issue. In this view, authoritarian populism in the U.S. and other Western democracies has been driven most strongly by cultural values. Trump’s rhetoric stirs up a potent mix of racial resentment, intolerance, American First nationalism and isolationism. It emphasizes mistrust of outsiders, misogyny and sexism, attack-dog politics, and racial and anti-Muslim animus.
Racial politics are clearly part of this witch’s brew. Nat Cohn found that support for Trump was strongest in areas with measures of racial animosity. Survey data point toward the same conclusions. Jason McDaniel and Sean McElwee have shown that racial animosity is a critical driver in Trump’s support.
But American racial attitudes are arguably part of a broader phenomenon. My book comparing support for the radical right in many countries found that authoritarian populists typically scapegoat outsiders. Populists favor nationalism, social conformity, order and strong leaders.
Taking up this broader theme, Matthew MacWilliams in his research found that support for authoritarian values was one of the best predictors of Trump’s support.
Trump’s willingness to trample upon “political correctness” is thought to be catnip for less educated, older, blue collar Americans. This group finds themselves stranded like fish losing oxygen in a shrinking pool on the losing side of cultural tides, powerless to push back against long-term social evolution transforming the diversity of peoples and values in the United States. Meanwhile, Trump’s speech is anathema to civil discourse among educated liberals and establishment Republicans like Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney.

Survey on favorability

For evidence of which interpretation is right, we can dive into the American National Election Study, conducted in January 2016, just before the first votes were cast in the Iowa caucus.
The survey of 1,200 American citizens monitored candidate preferences by asking “Regardless of whether you will vote in the Democratic primary this year, which Democratic candidate do you prefer?” An equivalent question was asked for Republican contenders.
This does not imply that sympathizers necessarily cast a primary ballot for these candidates. Rather, the questions tap into overall favorability toward the candidates before the first vote was cast.
The position of the candidates can be assumed to reflect that of their sympathizers. These positions can then be compared with the median voter.

Economic values

What does the NES survey say about the economic issues interpretation of candidates' appeal?
Lib Con. Author provided
The chart above shows two classic indicators of these positions in the survey, including where supporters of each candidate placed themselves on the liberal-conservatism scale and whether they favored less or more government services and spending.
The evidence suggests that among Democrats, both Clinton and Sanders sympathizers saw themselves as liberal and favoring an expansion of government services and spending. Surprisingly, Clinton supporters were slightly more left wing than Sanders supporters.
Among Republicans, those most favorable toward Jeb Bush placed themselves remarkably close to the Democrats. Supporters of the other Republican candidates were all on the right of the median voter. Most supporters of the GOP candidates were fairly close to the median voter – with the exception of those most sympathetic toward Trump and Cruz. Cruz supporters were the most extreme and farthest from the average American on economic issues.

Cultural backlash?

What does the evidence say about the appeal of authoritarian values in America?
Author provided
The chart above taps into social tolerance (how favorably respondents felt toward Muslims) and attitudes toward authority (how favorably they felt about the police).
The results provide a perfect snapshot of the range of choices on cultural values in the 2016 primary campaign. As expected, Sanders sympathizers show least support for authoritarian values. They are followed by Clinton supporters, who were closest to the mainstream position of the average American.
By contrast, supporters of most of the Republican candidates clustered together as more favorable toward these authoritarian populist values. Bush sympathizers were predictably more liberal than those of Cruz.
The most striking outlier concerns supporters of Trump, who displayed the strongest sympathy toward authoritarian populist values. This reinforces the notion that his distinctive brand of populism strikes a chord among less educated and older voters, who regard social diversity as a threat to traditional American values.
These factors continue to predict favorability toward Cruz and Trump even after controlling for other factors associated with political attitudes and electoral choices, including the age, gender, race, education and income of voters.
With Trump versus Cruz, the GOP faces a Hobson’s choice between two types of extremes. Which is the riskier bet for the future of the party – and indeed for America and the world?
Cruz’s support now appears to be lagging, while Trump has surged in recent primaries, so Trump may get a majority of delegates in the first round at the Republican convention. If the contest goes into a second round, however, the answer for Republican delegates probably depends upon whether they are most fearful of the dangers of authoritarian populism or neoconservatism.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Donald Trump as an authoritarian populist

Pippa Norris
Harvard and Sydney Universities
This blog first appeared on 11 March 2016 in the Washington Post/Monkey Cage.

Many American commentators have had trouble understanding the rise of Donald Trump. How could such a figure surge to become the most likely standard-bearer for the GOP – much less have any chance of entering the White House?

But Trump is far from unique. As many commentators have noted, he fits the wave of authoritarian populists whose support has swelled in many Western democracies.

The graph below from ParlGov data illustrates the surge in the share of the vote for populist authoritarian parliamentary parties (defined as rated 8.0 or above by experts on left-right scales) since 20?? across 34 OECD countries.

Votes for populist authoritarian parties in post-industrial societies

Source: ParlGov ‘Elections’

There's been a wave of populist figures throughout the west over the past two decades

Contemporary authoritarian populism is nothing new. On 21st April 2002, Jean-Marie Le Pen defeated France’s socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in the first round of the French presidential elections. That shocked Europe. One of the best-known radical right leaders, Le Pen dismissed the holocaust as a ”detail of history.” All over France, millions of people protested at massive anti-Front National demonstrations. 
Less than three weeks later, on 6th May 2002, Netherland’s flamboyant and controversial Pim Fortuyn was assassinated for his anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views, leading to a sudden surge of support for his party in the general election. The anti-immigrant Lijst Pim Fortuyn, formed just three months before the election, suddenly became the second largest party in the Dutch parliament and part of the governing coalition.
Nor are these isolated successes. During the last two decades, parties led by populist authoritarian leaders have surged in popularity in many nations, gaining legislative seats, reaching ministerial office, and holding government power.

Recently we’ve seen notable gains for the Swiss People’s Party, the Austrian Freedom Party, the Swedish Democrats, and the Danish People’s Party. Both the center-left and center-right are concerned about the current popularity of Marine Le Pen’s Front Nationale, Matteo Salvini’s Northern League, and Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom. In Hungary, the success of the neo-fascist Jobbik party pushed the ruling Fidesz party even further to the right; Hungary’s government is now building a wall against the waves of migrants flooding across Europe.

It’s not just Europe, either. Latin America has its radical populism with charismatic leaders like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia. Some populist leaders and parties rise temporarily in opinion polls then plummet equally rapidly. In Britain, for example, the UK Independence Party won only a single seat in the May 2015 general election. But even flash parties can infect the political culture and mainstream parties; the UKIP fuelled more rabid anti-European sentiments, and was one of the reasons Conservatives called the EU Brexit referendum.

These parties steal votes mainly from the center right. Populist appeals also draw support from certain characteristics associated with the center-left, especially by appealing predominately to men, the less educated, and the economically marginalized.

Why is angry populism on the rise?
The standard economic account explains populism as arising when growing inequality and social exclusion mobilize the dispossessed. But populist authoritarian leaders have arisen in several affluent post-industrial ”knowledge” societies, in cradle-to-grave welfare states with some of the best-educated and most secure populations in the world, like Sweden and Denmark -- where you'd expect social tolerance and liberal attitudes instead of xenophobic appeals.

Some observers have offered U.S.-based explanations for Trump in particular, arguing that his popularity is a reaction to the election (and reelection) of the first African-American president to the White House; a backlash against Obama’ policies and style; public anger against fat cats in elections, or the Tea Party tilt pushing House Republicans to the right. But populists have gained in many modern democraciesstates without any of this.

These authoritarian populists have been with us now for twenty years, in economically bad times as well as good, in both predominately Catholic and Protestant societies, in Nordic and Mediterranean regions, in liberal Norway and conservative Switzerland, in egalitarian welfare states as well as unequal societies, in the European Union and in several Anglo-American democracies like New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. Why?

We’re seeing a deep and strong a cultural backlash against changes in social values
Here’s why. Populist authoritarianism can best be explained as a cultural backlash in Western societies against long-term, on-going social change.

Over recent decades, the World Values Survey shows that Western societies have been getting gradually more liberal on many social issues, especially among the younger generation and well-educated middle class. That includes egalitarian attitudes towards sex roles, tolerance of fluid gender identities and LGBT rights, support for same-sex marriage, tolerance of diversity, more secular values, emancipative values[EG2] , engagement in direct forms of democratic participation[EJG3] , and cosmopolitan support for agencies of global governance.

This long-term generational shift threatens many traditionalists’ cultural values. Less educated and older citizens fear becoming marginalized and left behind within their own countries.

In the U.S., evidence from the World Values Survey perfectly illustrates the education gap in these types of cultural values. Well before Trump, a substantial and striking education gap can be observed in American approval of authoritarian leaders. The WVS asked whether Americans approved of ”having a strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with congress or elections.“ The figure below shows a consistent education gap and growing support for this statement since 2005. Most remarkably, by the most recent wave in 2011, almost half -- 44 percent -- of U.S. non-college graduates of having a strong leader unchecked by elections and Congress.

The substantial education gap in American approval of authoritarian leadership, 2011

Note: Q: “I'm going to describe various types of political systems and ask what you think about each as a way of governing this country. For each one, would you say it is a very good, fairly good, fairly bad or very bad way of governing this country? Having a strong leader who does not have to bother with congress and elections.” Proportion of Americans agreeing with either ‘Very/fairly bad or ‘very/fairly good’.
Source: World Values Survey, 6th wave (2011)

This deeply disturbing finding reflects attitudes usually observed in states such as Russia.

Moreover, this is not an isolated finding or quirk of fieldwork. If we look at a couple of the classic measures of tolerance towards sexual liberalization and value change – including towards homosexuality and abortion – the two figures below illustrate the size of the education gap on these issues.

Finding a gap is hardly headline news in the research literature. But the education gap appears to widen slightly over time. That suggests that U.S. differences in cultural values and social tolerance by class have expanded rather than shrunk.

The growing education gap in American tolerance of homosexuality

Note: Q “Please tell me for each of the following actions whether you think it can always be justified, never be justified, or something in between, using this card from 1 (never) to 10 (always)….”
Source: World Values Survey

The growing education gap in American tolerance of abortion

Note: Q “Please tell me for each of the following actions whether you think it can always be justified, never be justified, or something in between, using this card from 1 (never) to 10 (always)….”
Source: World Values Survey

The Republican Party has prepared the way for an authoritarian movement
By giving voice and amplifying fears of cultural change, the Republicans have opened the way for a populist leader. Trump’s support appears to be fuelled by a backlash among traditionalists (often men and the less educated) faced with rising American support for issues such as gay marriage, sexual equality, and tolerance of social diversity, all lumped under the phrase ”political correctness.”Looking back, we can see precursors to the Trump movement, like  the Tea Party.

Assessing the damage done

Whether or not Trump is elected, he and his followers have articulated a new brutalism and intolerance, insert those into what’s speakable in American politics.

While the Trump phenomenon mirrors what’s happened elsewhere, most Western parliamentary democracies have many safeguards in place, so that even when populist authoritarian parties surge, they remain limited in seats and thus real power.