David Levi Strauss / Dispatch

Dispatch 17: Big Stupid Data


ON the last night of the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, after the balloons dropped and the music died, I was sitting in the press tent, cooling my hot heels, when I saw Nate Silver come in, with a cell phone glued to his ear, pacing from one end of the tent to the other, listening and looking very worried indeed. And well he should. He’s the current Data Master. Americans depend on him to tell them what’s up and what’s going to happen politically, and the numbers aren’t cooperating.

That’s because the fear and hatred that’s driving the Trump bump are difficult to measure using the current instruments. Nixon called them the Silent Majority for a reason. They don’t express their opinions publicly, so the methods of public opinion polling don’t work very well on them. They are the counter-counterculture. They hate those elite motherfuckers who talk about things.

Now, four days later, Hillary Clinton has received her post-convention bounce of about four points, twice what Donald Trump received after his convention, but that’s cold comfort to Democrats, because this bump is barely beyond the stated margin of error of three points. Nobody I’ve talked to in the Democratic Party understands why her lead is not greater, over a candidate who seems destined to self-destruct, and who continues to make rookie mistakes and say inane and insane things that would sink most campaigns nearly every day. What does a girl need to do to get a real bump over this dickwad?

The data suggest that Clinton is in trouble with a group that comprised nearly half of all voters in 2012: white people without a college degree. Among this group, Trump leads 60% to 30% in most polls, and 70% to 30% in some. The spread is even greater among white men without degrees. The Weapons of Mass Destruction in the coming election are White Men without Degrees.

It took the candidacy and election of our first Black president to reveal just how much racism still guides our political life, and the candidacy of our first woman president is revealing just how misogynistic American society still is.

If only men voted in the coming election, Trump would win. If only white people voted, Trump would win. And if only people over 65 voted, Trump would win. So if you’re not a man, not white, or not over 65, the future of American democracy is in your hands. Please don’t drop it.

David Levi Strauss
Tuesday, August 1, 2016, 5 p.m. EDT

[Photography: Jon Winet. July 28, 2016. Media Filing Center. Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Click on image to see an enlargement.]

LINK to all David Levi Strauss Power 2016 Dispatches

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