It’s ironic. The media has been talking non-stop about who is voting for Bernie Sanders (anti-establishment young people) or who is voting for Donald Trump (anti-establishment white working-class men). Or as the New Republic puts it “The media has saturated us with profiles of the voters who are turning out for these anti-establishment candidates.”
On the other hand, all we hear about Hillary Clinton is that she is favored in states with large numbers of black people. But how can they be her main supporters? Clinton has won more votes in the primaries than any other candidate: 2.5 million more than Sanders and 1.1 million more than Trump. And yet, the media can’t seem to figure out who these voters are, and why they are voting for her.
Why? Because it disturbs their conventional wisdom that people don’t like Clinton. According to the media, Clinton is phony and can’t be trusted. As a recent article in the NY Times put it, Clinton is winning “votes, not hearts”. The media doesn’t say she has “momentum”, instead they say she has a “sizable delegate lead”. Is there a difference?
The media also likes to remind us that Obama came from behind and upset a seemingly invincible Clinton in 2008. But what they don’t point out is that Clinton holds a lead in both popular votes and delegates over Sanders that far surpasses Obama’s lead over her at this point in the race in 2008. The media loves a horse race, and so ironically turns Clinton’s popularity with actual voters into a liability.
Even more ironically, the media narrative unintentionally turns Clinton into the underdog, which may be what is getting her supporters to the voting booth.
Clinton also upsets the media narrative that voters are angry. I suspect there are more voters out there who believe that Obama has been a damn good president, especially considering the shit that the Republicans have been throwing at him since even before he was elected. It’s the same crap that they have been throwing at Hillary Clinton for even longer. Sure some people are manipulated into fear and hatred, but I think that the majority of Americans realize that Clinton is the best bet we have for continuing and expanding the gains made by the Obama presidency.
And what gains! Progressive victories include the Affordable Care Act, gay marriage, the beginning of legalization of marijuana, the Fair Pay Act for women, the Paris environmental accords, ending two Republican wars, the nuclear deal with Iran, and normalizing relations with Cuba. All while pulling us out of the Great Recession.
Meanwhile, even with a majority in both the House and Senate, Republicans have failed to pass any meaningful pieces of legislation at all. According to Salon, that’s what happens when compromise becomes a heresy in your party.
One argument used repeatedly by the media to support the idea that voters are angry is that Republican turnout during the primary has been higher than normal, while Democratic turnout is lower. But as Five Thirty Eight points out, primary turnout has no relationship with turnout in the general election. Turnout is more of a function of the competitiveness of the running politicians, and Republicans have certainly gotten more attention in that area. However, in four of the last five presidential elections, the party that had a higher increase in turnout in the primary actually lost the general election.
If I were Republicans, I would be afraid, very afraid.