Sunday, April 22, 2018

Confidence in Government, 1952-2016

This was the post I was going to do last week--an update of a overall measure of confidence in government that I wrote about in 2013.  I found that in addition to the six variables I used last time, there was one that asks "How much do you feel that having elections makes the government pay attention to what the people think, a good deal, some or not much?"  I included that and added the 2016 data, giving this general index:

I don't think many people will be surprised that it reached its lowest level in 2016; the intriguing thing is that it was almost as low in 1994 and then rebounded.  I wanted to update this partly to see how well it tracked the growth negative feelings about the parties that I wrote about last month.  Not that closely:  there is a correlation, but that's almost entirely because of the influence of 2012 and 2016.  

While looking back at the 2013 post, I see that it was inspired by claims that Mitt Romney's loss in 2012 was because of low turnout among "downscale, Northern, rural whites."  Some people have suggested that in 2016, Trump appealed to those voters and they turned out in large numbers.  According to the ANES, among non-Hispanic whites who said they voted in 2012, Trump got 53.4% and Clinton got 39.9%; among non-Hispanic whites who said they didn't vote in 2012, Trump got 53.5% and Clinton got 37.4%.  That difference is not statistically significant, or even close.  Given the small numbers of reported non-voters, there's a lot of uncertainty, but the data doesn't suggest that Trump had a particularly strong appeal to "alienated" white voters.  There was one interesting difference:  Clinton did substantially worse among blacks who didn't vote in 2012 than among those who did (68.5% vs. 92.5%); Trump, Johnson, and Stein all did substantially better.  Although the numbers are very small, the difference is statistically significant.  

1 comment:

  1. FWIW, I dug down into the numbers you posted a while ago. Into a rural county in one of the northern swing states. What I saw was a falling population (2000 to 2016), a roughly proportionately falling number of Democratic votes, and a big increase in the number of Republican votes in 2016*.

    I still think that the story of 2016 is that Trump enthused enough rural non-downscale whites to swing the three states. He put on a great show at his rallies, people loved them, and he didn't pull an etch-a-sketch and abandon them after the primaries.

    (The other part of the story people (conveniently?)forget is that Clinton resoundingly won the under-$50,000 a year income bracket and lost every other bracket. The idea that Clinton and Dems in general didn't speak enough to the "working classes" is simply nuts.)

    Sorry to be argumentative and grumpy, but I think people insist on missing a truly enthused demographic: rural, reasonably well-off whites. (Like my gun-nut uncle, who, with my grandfather, were rural DAR/SAR New Englanders with decent day jobs (Sylvania) and a nice plot of inherited property.)

    *: And of course, there's my nightmare memory of the terrifying number of Trump signs I saw on lawns in Tewksbury, MA, when I got lost driving around there the spring before the 2016 election. But I've said that before.