September 21, 2016

JONATHAN CHAIT: Donald Trump Is Winning September:

Sometime around the end of summer, it dawned upon most Democrats, and the elite of both parties, that they — okay, we — inhabit a different political universe than does the rest of the country. In our world, Donald Trump is a surreal authoritarian buffoon whose presidency is too nightmarish to contemplate, except perhaps as an abstract intellectual exercise to bolster whatever argument one wishes to make about larger trends in American society. Hillary Clinton is deeply familiar, liked by some, loathed by many, and caught in a vortex of mutual paranoia with the news media that leads her into errors of secrecy. But her flaws, as the conservative but Clinton-endorsing pundit P. J. O’Rourke put it, lie “within normal parameters,” and disagreements within the elite feel small in the face of Trump. Envisioning him as the actual president of the United States seems to us like a category error, as if a Game of Thrones character were to show up on Veep.

But as the first of the presidential debates looms, the hard numbers simply do not bear out this reality. The website FiveThirtyEight gives Trump more than a four-in-ten chance of actually, for real, winning. The Upshot, the New York Times’ forecaster, puts it at a slightly more comforting one in four, which sounds low except that, as the model’s authors point out, this makes the odds of a Clinton victory about equal to an NFL placekicker’s chances of making a 49-yard field goal. Also, the kicker has pneumonia. Citigroup recently warned that investors are underappreciating the significant risk to the economy of a Trump victory. A Trump presidency has felt unimaginable all summer long for the same reason Brexit couldn’t pass in England and Trump couldn’t win his party’s nomination: We refused to believe what the numbers were telling us.

Epistemic closure. Maybe if you guys noticed, or cared, that 84% of white working class say government does not represent their views, you’d have a clue.

UPDATE: Blame Samantha Bee: “Outside the liberal tent, the feeling of being suffocated by the left’s cultural dominance is turning voting Republican into an act of cultural rebellion — which may be one reason the Obama years, so good for liberalism in the culture, have seen sharp G.O.P. gains at every level of the country’s government.”

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