Ron DeSantis and the “Scaffle” Vote
If Ronald Reagan came back to life, he would probably be confused by the leftist tone that the early 2024 Republican presidential campaign sometimes took.
After Ron DeSantis announced he was hosting a fundraiser last night at the Four Seasons Hotel, an official close to Donald Trump mocked the event as ‘upper elite’ and ‘out of touch’ “. Trump also criticized DeSantis for backing former Republican bills in Congress to shrink government in part by cutting Medicare and Social Security.
DeSantis, for his part, spoke out in favor of government action to reduce health care prices. He criticized the Biden administration for blocking cheaper prescription drugs from Canada — a country that was once a symbol of big government inefficiency among Republicans. This month, DeSantis, the governor of Florida, signed a bill that tries to cut drug costs by cracking down on companies known as drug benefit managers.
What is going on?
Trump’s crushing of the Republican establishment in 2016 and his continued popularity among party voters exposed a weakness in the laissez-faire economic approach known as Reaganism. Namely, he’s not particularly popular with most voters, including many Republicans.
As DeSantis announced his candidacy last night, I want to use today’s newsletter to highlight arguably the most important fact in American politics: Americans tend to be more progressive on economic issues than on social. If you can remember this, you can better understand the 2024 campaign.
This explains why DeSantis and Trump compete to appear populist, even if that means favoring government regulations and benefits. It explains why Trump’s criticism of free trade resonated with voters — and why President Biden promoted his own “buy America” economic policies, breaking away from centrist Democrats. It also explains why today’s Republicans campaign on social issues such as immigration, crime, gender and religion; most Americans are more conservative on these issues than the Democratic Party.
It’s true that there is a subset of voters, many of them affluent, who like to describe themselves as “socially liberal and fiscally conservative.” If you are reading this newsletter, you probably know some people in this category. Yet it happens to be the least common combination in American politics. The typical swing voter is rather “socially conservative and fiscally liberal”.
The 2024 presidential election will likely be, at least in part, a battle for that voter.
Medicaid and border security
This graph – originally created by political scientist Lee Drutman, using a large poll conducted after the 2016 election – remains the best visualization of the situation:
It places the respondents, each of whom is represented by a point, on two scales. One scale is based on economic issues like trade, taxes, and safety net programs, while the other is based on social issues like abortion, immigration, race, and pride in the United States. United. Economic progressives appear on the left side of the chart and economic conservatives on the right. Social conservatives appear in the top half and social progressives in the bottom. The dots are colored according to their 2016 vote, whether for Trump, Hillary Clinton or a third-party candidate.
Unsurprisingly, liberals on both types of issues (the lower left quadrant) overwhelmingly voted Democrat, and consistent conservatives (the upper right quadrant) were strong Trump voters. The socially liberal and fiscally conservative quadrant is largely empty. And the opposite quadrant is the battleground of American politics.
These socially conservative, fiscally liberal voters — you can call them Scaffles, for their acronym — voted for progressive economic policies when they show up as ballot initiatives, even in red states. Arkansas, Florida, Missouri and Nebraska, for example, have enacted minimum wage increases. Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Utah have expanded Medicaid through Obamacare. Republicans without a college degree are often the ones who break with their party on these ballot initiatives.
Meanwhile, the jostling is why a Times poll last year showed most voters, including many Latinos, prefer the Republican Party’s position on illegal immigration to that of the Democratic Party. . Or consider a recent KFF/Washington Post poll on transgender issues, in which most Americans said they oppose puberty-blocking treatments for children.
Yes, public opinion has nuances. Most Americans also support laws prohibiting discrimination against trans people, the KFF poll showed. Sometimes parties can also go too far. When Democrats speak positively about socialism, they alienate swing voters. On abortion, Republicans have gone so far to the right – passing near total bans, that the issue has become a drag on the party.
But don’t confuse nuances and exceptions with the big picture. Both DeSantis and Trump understand that the old Republican approach to economic policy is a vulnerability, which is why they often sound like populists. And when they emphasize cultural conservatism, they don’t just satisfy their base. They often appeal to swing voters too.
Tina Turner, whose explosive energy and singular rasp made her one of the most successful artists of all time, has died aged 83.
Musicians, politicians and fans mourned Turner. “She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous,” wrote Mick Jagger.
Listen to 11 of his greatest tracks, which show off his mastery of R&B, rock and pop.
It’s hard to think of a boundary that Turner didn’t cross, writes Jacob Bernstein. Discover his life in photos.
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When transgender people take legal action to block anti-trans laws, they are also protecting the right to dress however you want, Kate Redburn writing.
To remove plastic from the oceans, governments should focus on just 1,000 polluted rivers, Boyan slats writing.
Here are the columns of Pamela Paul on positive discrimination and Charles Coup on Republicans in the presidential race.
The classic public returns
Last fall, orchestras in the United States were in crisis: they played in concert halls often half full. “It was very visible and very scary,” said Melia Tourangeau, executive director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. But those fears have eased this spring, as orchestras are successfully winning back audiences with popular programs and collaborations on film screenings and theater productions.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
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