Saint Reagan: Trends in conservatism following the Reagan Revolution

There are many examples of exceptional presidential leadership in American political history. Ronald Reagan is the most iconic figure of the Republican Party, and stands as an example of greatness for both liberals and conservatives. While Reagan’s popularity may not be in question, some academics assert that Reagan’s legacy was not a long lasting agent of unification for the Republican Party.  Historian Gil Troy advocates the idea that conservative unification brought on by the Reagan, was a “fleeting alliance, not an enduring coalition.”

Mr. Troy bases this claim on an increasing trend of liberalization in American politics. Troy emphasizes on the stance that conservatives were, “unable to consistently convert favorable public sentiment into legislative victories or effectively change or form public opinion. While once can accept the growing trend of liberalization in American politics, to discredit the effect Ronald Reagan had on the Republic Party would be a misrepresentation if historical events.

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Although Reagan became popularized by the media years after his presidency, many of his economic and security policies were heavily criticized while he was in office

Conservatism in 80’s was defined by the rise of the Christian right, as well as the Reagan Revolution.  This revolution was coined in recognition of the political shift in favor of conservative policy, both at home and abroad. Reagan’s strong stance against communism, support of supply-side economics, lowering taxes, and popularized traditionalism created a platform that the Republican Party would run off of for the next three decades.

To say that the conservative platform of traditionalism (that stemmed from the Reagan Revolution) is fighting a growing trend of liberalization of political ideology has merit when developing a historical representation of American politics. But this is a completely separate notion than the extent to which Reagan’s legacy unified specifically conservative demographics.

When analyzing polls of the republican primaries through-out the 80’s and 90’s, a clear trend in favor of Reaganesque conservatism (whatever candidate is waving that banner at the time). Those Republican’s that are endorsed by Reagan, have greater success in the primaries (i.e. George H.W. Bush 1988 & 1982, Bob Doll, and George W. Bush)

A majority of creditable polls show republican voters unified behind one nomination in all of the primaries following Reagan’s presidency. These trends do not support the idea that the unification of the Republican Party behind the Reagan campaign was simply a “fleeting alliance.”

~WDL

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What Just Happened? Post Mortem Election Analysis

For anyone that has been paying attention to polling data over the last few months, you have probably realized by now how wrong most projections were. Virtually every poll showed Clinton leading a comfortable victory.

IBD/TIPP was the only forecast that predicted a Trump upset, showing him claiming a win with only two percentage points. IBD/TIPP is a collaboration between Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) and TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence (TIPP). IBD claims to have the most accurate polls to date, and looking at their data seems to corroborate that. In the last three election cycles IBD/TIPP has been the most accurate poll out there.

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So what did IBD/TIPP see that everyone else missed? According to their reports, it was two main issues. Employment and the economy.

Employment might seem odd as a main issue for Americans given the low unemployment rates projected by the Obama administration. IBD’s polls however, show that many American families are still suffering from job instability and after effects of the 2008 financial crisis.

IBD’s research, “…consistently show[s] that the share of households that were “job insecure” paint a far more dire picture than the official, and increasingly useless, unemployment number. And how the public was overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the direction of the country.” When analyzing employment rates many people (myself included) misrepresented the data. What most pollsters did not account for is, “How the number of people who’d dropped out of the labor force had grown at a faster rate than jobs.” Meaning while employment rates may be on the rise, this does not necessarily equate higher approval rates for the policies enacted by the left.

On the economy, one issue remains consistent- not only in IDB’s analysis but in most of the other accepted polling organizations as well. That issue is the Dodd-Frank Act, an attempt at Wall Street reform and consumer protection. Essentially collection of federal regulations instituted under the Obama administration, Dodd-Frank hoped to prevent the recurrence of events that caused the 2008 financial crisis.

These regulations had an unforeseen consequence on small business that were most effected by the 2008 financial crisis. Dodd-Frank makes it “far more difficult for small businesses to get credit.” The act also drives small community banks out of business because their competition is backed by the federal government.

While Hillary Clinton shouldn’t necessarily take the blame for the negative consequences of previous administrations, public perception still links her campaign with the Obama administration. Employment and economic concerns were in the front of voters’ minds this election. While Clinton was perceived as a vote for same policies many viewed as harmful to their wellbeing, Donald Trump was perceived as an extreme change to the establishment. That is where he fostered his support. Disenfranchised, working class voters turned out in huge numbers, and the Trump campaign owes them a big thanks you.

This election has exposed a misrepresentation and a misunderstanding of the concerns of the general public by mainstream media outlets. I’m curious to see if that trend continues in the next four years.

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~WDL

Trump Train Losing Passengers as New Video Surfaces

This week brings yet another controversial quote from presidential candidate Donald Trump. A video recording of a lewd conversation Trump had with a reporter in 2005 has surfaced and is being heavily criticized. Not only his opponents, but some of his supporters as well. Writer David A. Fahrenthold reports: “Donald Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women during a 2005 conversation caught on a hot microphone, saying that “when you’re a star, they let you do it,” according to a video obtained by the  Washington Post.”

But why is this Trump tape a breaking point for many in the G.O.P.? Why is this instance worse than Trump’s offensive rhetoric against handicapped reporters, or Islamic parents of fallen U.S. soldiers? Did Trump cross an invisible line in the conservative establishment?

These questions potentially find in answer when both the implication of Trump’s quote and his explanation of it are analyzed. Although Trump may not have intended to advocate for sexual assault when he made the comment, it’s clear how many could misrepresent what was said to mean just that. It is also important to consider that the comment has become a statement perceived by many to be degrading towards women. A broad demographic that has a huge influence on the outcome of the election. Even Trump’s male supporters have made statements that connect the impact of Trumps comments in the video on their daughters, wives, sisters, and any other meaningful female figures they have a connection to.

Trumps explanation of the tape is also cause for his male supports to abandon the Trump train. In statements following the release of the video, Trump justified his comments as simply locker room braggadocio, something that “men” commonly talk about. This generalization of an entire gender as one that condones and takes part in vulgar sexual conversation behind closed doors was met with strong disapproval.

As the exodus of republicans from the Trump campaign continues it will be interesting to see if he can bounce back from this setback. For the first time Trump’s controversial comments have not earned him an increase in the polls. Although this might not be indicative of the outcome of the election, it does support the idea that voters are getting tired of the reality TV antics. People are realizing that the election is almost here, and they want to see what a viable presidential candidate will bring to the table.

~WDL

Trump Pulls in the Gap Against Clinton

As the 2016 race for the White House approaches Election Day, political analysts are questioning where the numbers really stand, for Hillary Clinton as well as Donald Trump. Journalist John Cassidy analyzes the most recent polling numbers in his article in The New Yorker, titled, “The Election is Still Hillary Clinton’s to Lose.” In this article Cassidy does a decent job of informing his readers in a neutral undertone; however, he conveys an overarching main point that although Clinton is leading in the polls, Trump has been closing that gap for the past few months. Although Cassidy’s points are well developed and have value, his support and explanations do not always support his analysis of polling numbers.

This is especially noted in his stance on what Cassidy calls the “battleground states,” of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. One might make the assertion that Trump has appeared to successfully move Pennsylvania, “from lean Democratic to toss-up.” Yet, recent election history would show that Republicans have not won the Coal State since Bush Senior in 1988. With a seven point deficit coupled with his negative twenty one favorability rating, the odds are not in Trump’s favor for changing that status quo. Even with a large number of working class conservatives who are captivated by Trump’s ideas of economic populism, he still has not surpassed any former republican’s percentage of the vote seen in the past four elections, (and they all lost Pennsylvania).

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Here’s what NPR’s current voter demographic map looks like. With states shaded with yellow as swing states. States with lighter tones of red and blue are considered either lean Republican, lean Democratic or toss-up.

Although Trump has gained ground in certain regions of the U.S., his closing of the gaps in the polls should not be overrated at this point during the election. With his one hundred twenty Electoral College votes to Clinton’s two hundred twenty four, Trump has a lot more work to do if he wants to secure his seat in the oval office.

-WDL