Arnold Kling  

Demographics and my Pre-Mortem

Election Pre-Mortem... What Could Go Wrong?...

In response to Bryan's pre-gloat, some commenters seem to suggest that demographics are over-rated as an electoral force. You might want to look at Red States and Blue Cities. William Easterly comments,

We now see that there are really no Blue States, there are only Blue Cities. The rural blue areas are mostly reflecting concentrations of blacks (South), Hispanics (Southwest), or native Americans (West), along with the remaining 11 rural white people voting Democratic somewhere in West Virginia. Otherwise, if you see a patch of blue, it's probably a lake.

If the median voter of the future is going to be more urban and less white, I don't see what the Republicans are doing to move in the direction of the median voter.

I still think that the 2010 election will turn out to be an outlier relative to the trend line. I think that if President Obama had not appointed Tim Geithner and re-appointed Ben Bernanke, he could have positioned himself and his party as reluctant participants in the bailout. Instead, with Geithner and Bernanke, Obama made the bailouts and the Democrats inseparable. ,

Take away those appointments, and the whole dynamic of this election could be different. The public is saying, "We hate the bailouts." The Democrats are stuck saying, "You are stupid and irrational." Without Geithner and Bernanke, they could be saying, "You're right. We wanted something totally different."

Of course, I think the Democrats really believe in TARP, and in that sense they may deserve to be tied to the bailouts. When I met a Congressperson for the first time in my life, it was a few days before the first TARP vote, and some Cato folks brought me along. It was a Republican Congresswoman. I argued hysterically against TARP, and one of my points was that this level of government control over the financial system was "The Democrats' wet dream."

She voted for TARP. In some weird sense, TARP was a trap for the Democratic Party.

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COMMENTS (5 to date)
Ivan writes:

They were not forced to do it, it was their dream all along. Yeah right.
Democrats are loosing votes because of the economy stupid and after that, because they are pussies who don't know how to exercise power.
So, if there is anything worse than seeing a supermajority being brought down to its knees, crybabies unable to do what they were elected there to do, is probably not having a job. Period.
Save your condescending tarp speech, tarp was not a trap. It had to be done by anyone sitting in office. Period.over

Mike Rulle writes:

I had never thought of it as a trap for the Democrats before.

I had thought of it as good fortune handed to the Democrats by the Republicans in "laying the foundation" for more aggressive action by the Federal Government. But your point is well made. It has led to a (seeming) backlash against over extended Government. If the Republicans had resisted at the time, perhaps they would have appeared (even have meant it--but that is too optimistic) to be legitimate opponents of HC, Stimulus etc. They would have lost anyway. Lets face it though---those of us voting Republican are doing so in the hope they may get the joke----not because we believe they believe in their new found fiscal religion. If they had resisted TARP, perhaps we would have believed in their sincerity.

But it well may have been a trap afterall.

Hugh Watkins writes:

Loved the map. But I'm still not on board your demographic bus.

Posit that Ms. X - a more urban and less white voter - earns $32k per year in some not very good job. She's in her mid-fifties and would like a less stressful position but can't afford to let go of what she has.

Ms. X doesn't pay much income tax, but she does pay sales and property taxes. These taxes go, in part, to pay the $100k pension of Mr Y - equally urban and less white. Mr. Y worked as a police chief and retired when he got to fifty.

There's no social justice in Ms X supporting Mr Y, but that's the system that been built up over the years, and the Dems have done the most to build it. The Dems are now offering to double-down on this way of doing things and people are beginning to say that enough is enough. In short the Dems have lost their Social Justice card.

The real demographic split is between those who can benefit from such a system: Mr. Y, iBanksters etc. and those who can't. The Ins and the Outs.

I would guess that the Ins can't be more than 25% of the population - and therein lies the problem for the Dems.

Mind you the Reps can easily screw it all up over the next 18 months, so nothing's cast in stone.

Topcat writes:

The best argument against TARP that I have seen is in the book by William Isaac, former head of the FDIC during the S&L crisis of the 1980s. The title,"Senseless Panic," says it all.

Among the quotes:
"No new legislation was needed to authorize [bank] capital infusions by the FDIC." (p.150)

"New legislation was not needed for the FDIC to issue a broad guarantee of depositors. It could be done under existing law with approval of the Treasury and the Fed."(p.151)

"The Fed measures, combined with guarantees issued by the FDIC, did a great deal to calm the financial markets. They could have been done without the TARP legislation." (p.155)

He concludes:
"[T]he TARP legislation did nothing to stabilize the financial system that could not have have been done without it." (p.157)
"[This was] a plan concocted by Wall Street for the exclusive benefit of Wall Street." (p.149)

Isaac testified before Congress to this effect prior to passage of TARP.

Frank Youell writes:

"She voted for TARP. In some weird sense, TARP was a trap for the Democratic Party."

Rightfully or wrongly, the Democrats came to "own" the very unpopular Wall Street bailouts.

I don't think reappointing Bernanke was the tipping point. However, Geithner clear was.

One data point strongly supports this view. At a dinner party, Emanuel Rahm's wife Emanuel’s wife, Amy Rule, remarked that Geithner

“must be looking forward to going back to that nice spot you have waiting for you at Goldman.”

Geithner never worked at Goldman. However, the widespread presumption (among Democrats) that he did, has inseparably tied Obama to Wall Street at the hip.

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