Those Election Day 2020 Vibes

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S1: The president’s declared that he’s basically planned to announce victory no matter what the numbers are.

S2: Well, you know what?

S1: If we beat him soundly, he won’t be able to do. African-American women in particular are the backbone of the Democratic Party, and they’ve been saying for years that they want to see themselves represented in a major way, in a principal way, and that’s what they they got in. Senator Harris, but is one of Joe’s favorite quotes, reminds us Faith sees best in the dark.

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S3: Hello and welcome to Trump Cast, I’m Virginia Heffernan, Joe Biden, the heartbroken man for our heartbroken time, who is, of course, on the ballot today, is fond of quoting a Seamus Heaney poem. When he quotes is actually a verse translation that he needed of Sophocles poem phylactery. He needed this wonderful translation. And of course, verse translations are incredibly difficult. You have to take, in this case, ancient Greek and not just get it accurately into modern English. You have to make it sing in modern English. You have to make it its own poem. One passage, this is Biden’s favorite, it’s an example of how he brought to life the ancient dramas in modern well, let’s call it Irish English. OK, I hope I can keep it together reading this and don’t live to regret being so choked up today. Here’s Heeney. History says, don’t hope on this side of the grave, but then once in a lifetime, the longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up and hope and history rhyme. I find it moving that many who stutter like Biden often discover that in committing poetry to memory, they experience the fluency and eloquence that often seems to elude them in ordinary speech. The mind is weird that way, and the eccentricity of minds and hearts has got to be present to us today on Election Day because I have so little of my own left to say today. I’m going to leave it up to another poet, also not American, but also for that reason, more grounded in history and its absence of hope. And then it’s strange surges of hope. That’s Odden. And he wrote this poem in the fall of nineteen thirty nine, another terrible time when hope was scant. September 1st, nineteen thirty nine by Jordan. I sit in one of the dives on Fifty Second Street, uncertain and afraid as the clever hopes expire of a low, dishonest decade, waves of anger and fear circulate over the bright and darkened lands of the earth, obsessing our private lives. The unmentionable odor of death offends the September night. Accurate scholarship can unearth the whole offense from Luthor. Until now, that has driven a culture mad. Find what occurred at Lintz, what huge Imago made a psychopathic God. I am the public know what all schoolchildren learn. Those to whom evil is done do evil in return. Exiled lucidity is new. All that speech can say about democracy and what dictators do. The elderly rubbish. They talk to an apathetic grave analyzed all in his book. The Enlightenment driven away the habit, forming pain, mismanagement and grief. We must suffer them all again into this neutral air where blind skyscrapers use their full height to proclaim the strength of collective man each language because it’s vain, competitive excuse. But who can live for long? And then euphoric dream out of the mirror. They stare imperialism’s face and the international wrong faces along the bar cling to their average day. The lights must never go out. The music must always play. All the conventions conspire to make this Ford assume the furniture of home, lest we should see where we are lost in a haunted wood. Children afraid of the night who have never been happy or good. The winds to militant trash important persons shout is not so crude as our wish. What Ma’aden agency wrote about Diaghilev is true of the normal heart for the error bred in the bone of each woman and each man craves what it cannot have, not universal love, but to be loved alone. From the conservative dark and to the ethical life, the dense commuters come reporting their morning vow. It will be true to the wife. I’ll concentrate more on my work and help helpless Governors Week to resume their compulsory game. Who can release them now? Who can reach the deaf? Who can speak for the dumb? All I have is a voice to undo the folded lie, the romantic lie in the brain of the sensual man in the street and the lie of authority whose buildings groped the sky. There’s no such thing as the state, and no one exists alone. Hunger allows no choice to the citizen or the police. We must love one another or die defenseless under the night. Our world and stupor lies yet dotted everywhere. Ironic points of light flashed out wherever the just exchanged their messages. May I composed like them of Eros and of dust beleaguered by the same negation and despair show an affirming flame.

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S4: My guest today is Amelia Thompson Devaux, a senior writer at five thirty eight. Amelia, welcome to Cast. Thanks so much for having me. I feel very lucky that you are with me on Election Day. You know, on the one hand, we think that it’s such a busy day. On the other, it’s just assuming that you’ve already voted. It’s mostly a day of just waiting.

S5: Yeah. And I would really encourage people to take some measures for self care today. I’ve been baking a lot. I’ve got my herbal tea. You know, I think even for four journalists, I don’t I don’t know what the day is like for you, Virginia, but it’s sort of like weird waiting period for all of us. So I hope folks there are doing some nice things for themselves today. Yes, I hope so, too.

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S4: And that can include binge eating. Today is not the day to deprive yourself. I remember right after 9/11, I ran into the veteran TV journalist Jeff Greenfield, and I said, how are you doing to him? So maybe a weekend after 9/11? And he said, With what? You mean the story. He thought the 9/11 attacks as a story. And I sort of thought that’s something I think a level of detachment that journalists start having, which is and you heard it expressed in the newsrooms at CBS and even The New York Times. What a great story that all these people went for. Trump, we can just all work. You know, this is in 2016 at the election night. And that’s one level of detachment. But I want to ask you in particular about the quant data level of detachment, because we can at least editorialize. And certainly Trump doesn’t try to conceal its biases, but data can be a wonderful way of just thinking kind of coldly about what’s happening and observing trends that I hear you guys on 538 doing this all the time with this kind of just elegant detachment. It’s as though you’re talking about X and Y when you say Trump and Biden, you know, they’re just names that fit into slots that you’re watching. Is that true or am I or is that not how it feels up close?

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S5: Well, I don’t know how it feels for my colleagues. This actually isn’t a conversation that I’ve had with them. But now that you’re sort of bringing it up, I’m I’m curious to know how other people think of it. I mean, this has just been such a crazy year, right? Like, I was going back through today and I was like a sort of a little bit of a reflective mood. And I was going back and I was looking at some of our old polls and like back to when we were like doing a poll tracker on impeachment. And then obviously the pandemic hit and the primaries were before that. And like it feels like. There hasn’t really been room to breathe, and I think to get through that, you know, covering the impeachment and then the primaries and then the pandemic where I was sort of on economic coverage for a while, because we’re a small site and sort of we have to be a little bit scrappy and and move around a bit in terms of our coverage areas. And then, of course, the general election, I think it can be easy to use the fact that what we do at five thirty eight is very quantitative, is very data driven to not sink as much about kind of like the global implications of those numbers. And that is something that as a reporter, I’m constantly trying to fight that impulse, you know. I think that’s something that I felt like with economic reporting. Obviously, this is this is a podcast about politics. We don’t have to talk about the economy, but, you know, it’s sort of like behind all of those horrible, catastrophic unemployment numbers, it was just this incredible pain that people have been feeling for the past six months in this recession. And, you know, another thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot in the presidential campaign is sort of like this question of efforts to make it harder to vote. And we know from academic studies that have been done that even though those efforts are mostly pushed by Republicans and tend to affect minority voters and young voters, and this year, older voters like it doesn’t have a clear partisan advantage and it tends to affect people at the margins. You know, for this election, people keep asking me, like, what’s the are the courts going to decide this election?

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S6: You know, and my answer is usually not unless it’s really, really close. But at the same time, the experience of people who are having to wait in lines to go vote or who are confused by, you know, the the envelope situation in Pennsylvania, sort of any of these other things, like that’s an experience that is important to think about and that’s happening behind the numbers. And like maybe it doesn’t swing the election, but it’s still something that is very real and that is happening for people.

S5: And so I do think, you know, it’s tempting to just kind of let the numbers do the talking and to step back and to not see the story behind it. But it’s certainly something I try to do every day in my work to make sure that I’m still connected to like, OK, what’s the lived experience of those members?

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S4: Yeah. Yeah, well, you do you do a beautiful job with that and you evoke certain kind of psychographic or psychological situations, sociological situations that bring to life certain regions and in particular gender relationships recently. Tell us about this piece you wrote about the substantial gender gap between voters. I mean, we’re used to thinking about this, right? Even in a twenty eighteen, we started to think about it. But just, you know, in one of those, could you have imagined that people in the same household, presumably some of these men and women are living together, are voting differently? That’s just not something that, you know, regional statistics take into account that in the same house you’d have a purple household. You know, that is very interesting. And also that maybe those votes express a dynamic between men and women that has come up with me to that’s come up with the allegations against the president, that’s come up with the model of, you know, what they call toxic masculinity among some of these despots like Trump and other figures that have been very much in the news, Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein and so on. So I wonder if the like actual individual households or families are kind of bearing this burden and constructing their political profile in the mirror of the other person’s, in the mirror of the other genders. You know, like this this girls versus boys thing is not something I expected in twenty, fifteen, twenty sixteen. Anyway, tell me about that. Tell me about those numbers and what you make of them.

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S5: Yeah. So I mean what we’ve seen this year is that the gender gap, which is the difference between male and female support for a given candidate, it looks like we’re heading for a record gender gap in terms of men going for Trump and women going for Biden. And as you mentioned, you know, the gender gap is not a thing that’s new in American politics. It’s actually very funny. You can sort of pinpoint the moment when the gender gap emerged and it was the 1980 election. And what happened then isn’t that men and women had kind of been thinking about politics differently before 1980 and something sort of snapped in like the fall of nineteen seventy nine and everything was different. It’s that the party’s. Realigned on issues that men and women were pretty different on, think about things like the size of government, that’s something where women tend to be much more in favor of kind of like a social safety net and bigger government that’s there to help people. And men tend to be sort of more in favor of the kind of self-reliance and smaller government way of thinking about it. And that was a big issue in 1980 with Reagan. And so what we saw in that year is that men and women had basically voted kind of the same up until that point. And then suddenly they’re voting very differently and men are much more likely to go with the Republican and women are much more likely to go with the Democrat. And of course, there were racial dynamics in the background with that two white men in the South leaving the Democratic Party. It’s a complicated story, but this is something that’s kind of been emerging for a long time. At the same time as you’re watching it, you do kind of wonder, like, OK, is this can this just keep opening up? Because, you know, in some of the polls that we’ve seen this year, I mean, it’s a huge, huge gender gap. And as you mentioned, you know, especially I dug in this piece into what was going on with suburban voters. And, you know, I think you’re right that it has to be some people who are living in the same houses who are voting differently than their spouse. And that story, I think, tends to be told in terms of women kind of being repulsed by Trump over the past four years and moving away from him. And that’s true. You know, we see on all these measures that women score lower on racial resentment, they score lower on hostile sexism. They are less in favor of these harsh immigration measures that Trump has taken. They’re being harder hit by the recession right now. You know, there are all of these reasons why women would think differently about the president than men. But I think it’s also a mistake not to look at the other side of that and to see that men are, by and large sticking with Trump. And, you know, that’s that’s mostly true of white men. But Trump actually gets, you know, I mean, with black voters, like the overwhelming majority of black voters are going to vote for Biden. So I don’t want to say like black men are going for Trump, but like, it’s like a vanishingly small number of black women who will vote for Trump and a few black men. I think it’s diamond and silk. Yes. And and then Latino men also we’re seeing are more likely to vote for Trump. So this is something we’re seeing across different racial and ethnic groups as well. And I do think, you know, assuming again, that this holds up when we get the the post-election exit polls and we’re able to start digging into that data. And we do see that men and women voted very differently from each other. I think we have to think about both. Why did women move away from Trump and why did men stay with him?

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S4: I wonder when you bring up Reagan, and in my experience as a child during the Reagan era, women were just more afraid that he would he would wage war, that there would be nuclear annihilation and were much less hawkish about Russia and wanted peace and wanted if the Russians love their children, too. Obviously, I don’t have any data right now. But that was my that was my no, no, that’s great conversation. But yeah. So if these are proxy issues for gender, something, let’s just call it. And, you know, I think we shouldn’t make any of these assumptions. You all do such a good job not making them. But let’s say women like social safety nets. They like safety for their children. They like investment in education because women love their children. Or, you know, where Lindsey Graham, Lindsey Graham’s model of young ladies or Trump’s model of we’re afraid of people coming to our pristine neighborhoods or we want our husbands to go back to work. Right. I feel like the cliche is that Lindsey Graham and Trump have erected about women are still kind of informing our thinking about, say, why women would move away from Trump. Right. That it’s like, you know, they’re desperately trying to get us back on the grounds that our, quote, husbands will go back to work, which actually has no purchase on a huge number of women who are either divorced or single or widowed or working. So that’s one thing that I think gets wrong, you know, and one of the assumptions that needs to be unpacked when we think about the gender gap. But are there any issues that are not just proxy issues where you could kind of gender the issue like national security or like libertarian politics, but where it’s actually on gender that the Graben by the pussy or the sexual assault charges or the metoo movement that we you know, we know women in unlikely places, an unlikely age groups had a kind of they kept calling it a reckoning on these things and that, you know, there really is a rehearsal. Egin Carol’s in her 70s who, you know, says she was raped by Trump and highly credibly said it. And overlooking that, you know, the first four times might be OK, but, you know, 20 plus times plus the ground by the pussy thing plus, you know, edgy and Carrolls credible charge.

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S6: I can just imagine women thinking that he is looks like a danger, like a actual kind of mortal danger to women. It’s an interesting question, and it’s one that’s kind of hard to get at in polling. Yeah, because when you ask people, you know, there are these questions and polls that ask people about their priorities going into the election and kind of how they’re feeling, you know, about various issues. And, you know, it varies. And people will always say the economy or they say health care and health care. Yeah, especially hard issue recently because it’s like, OK, well, are you thinking about, like a public option type of health care or are you thinking about, like, the fact that our hospitals can’t accommodate the current pandemic? Like, I don’t I don’t know what to do with that. Yeah.

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S5: What I have seen, though, and what I think is sort of emerged over and over in the reporting that I’ve done on sort of gender issues in first the Democratic primary and then this general election is that I think sort of like gender as a political frame. And this idea of gender consciousness and women sort of voting together as a group is just it’s not it’s surprisingly not how women seem to think about politics. And I certainly think there are you know, there are some ways in which the certain the current political context have been shaped by what you’re talking about by Trump’s this history of sexual assault accusations and his comments and everything else. And clearly, the Trump campaign is aware of that. And that’s why during the RNC, we just heard over and over again like, look how good Trump is to women and he wants to lift women up. And like, you know, how how wonderful is he for the women he mentors and you’re just watching it.

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S6: You’re just like, you know, have I have I been in a in an alternate reality for. Yes. Just five years. Yeah.

S5: But I think when it you know, when it comes to voting, I mean, the thing that that is true is that a lot of women are going to vote for Trump despite all of these allegations. And they’re going to you know, they’re going to look at Biden maybe and say, look, I’ve had a lot of women voters say to me, well, you know, I think I think all male politicians do that. You know, the thing that Trump is is accused of credibly accused of having done or, you know, there’s sort of this sense that, like, Trump’s just more open about it than everybody else. And it’s like an ugly world. And we know men are like that. And I’m going to vote for, you know, I’m OK voting for him anyway, because these are. Their issues are more important. And so while I do think the point you’re making is is really important about not kind of essentially easing these differences in how men and women respond to public opinion questions, because I think that’s another thing that’s a good way to advertise in the polls. It’s like like I was saying, like when people say health care, I have to then go talk to someone to find out. Yes. What they mean by that.

S4: I’ve tried on a kind of qualitative level to figure out what to drill down on health care and just see the scenarios that are brought up, say, for the Medicare for all set. And it is amazing the kind of, well, the focus on diabetes. This is pro covid, but just very much interests me that the example always given is the acceleration of insulin prices. I’m not sure that the young DSA types are encountering disproportionately a need for insulin and diabetes. But, you know, there are all kinds of other medical issues that sort of I just want to know exactly. You know, Obama was very clear that cancer treatments for his mother were very much a part of how he was thinking about the red tape around health care, that he shouldn’t have had to make a million calls and she shouldn’t, when sick, have had to make a million calls that insurance should have been off the table as a consideration when she was trying to recover. And that I understood. Right. But then I thought, yeah, what do people mean when they’re talking about health care? Do they mean they want not a public option, but to they just want more covid testing? Do they want more tracking and tracing? Do they want to believe science? That seems like what some people believe and that other people seem to believe that there are chronic conditions like diabetes, where you need regular medicine and you don’t want big pharma to have jacked up the prices, which is a very different set of issues. Or maybe you’re more concerned about more exotic diseases that you want more research dollars to go toward. And I just you know, health care seems like asking, you know, would you rather be sick or healthy?

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S6: You know, in a poll, there’s a certain kind of Chornovol going to pay for it. Like how much how much you pay for your house? Would you rather be rich or poor, sick or healthy, you know, and you get people putting that first. And the same with the questions about the economy. We learned it’s the economy, stupid. But what is is that another cultural issue?

S4: Like my colleague at Tramcars, Jamelle Bouie, used to say, cultural flashpoints is always code for some kind of racism. And, you know, questions about do you favor the mass deportation of Muslims and Mexicans, which, you know, lots of people in the Pacific. I mean, in the in the Midwest, though they’d never met a Muslim, said they favored that. What are they talking about exactly? We assume they’re talking about the culturalist issue, the cultural flashpoint that is a fig leaf for racism. But what are people talking about when they say the economy or health care? I really just don’t know. And I know polls push further on this. But in your estimation and let’s stay with women for a second, you know, reproductive medicine, it’s a definitely abortion is a separate issue from I’m interested in health care. Right. But it just sounds to me like another cultural issue, another way to hate Obama or support Obama. Right. It’s another way to say I like Obamacare, you know, because I like Obama and it needs to be expanded or repeal and replace, which is just I hate Obama in other terms. Right, or am I wrong?

S5: Yeah, no, I mean, I think like I think health care, because people mean so many different things when they talk about it, is something that then when people are asked a public opinion question about, it gets distilled down very easily into the kind of shorthand that they do or don’t know. And so Obamacare is a good example of that. And it’s telling that the further we’ve gotten from Obama actually being president, the more popular it’s got. Yes.

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S4: Yes, interesting. I remember Bill Clinton four years ago was saying Obamacare has been kind of a shit show. And I was like, no, we’re supposed to just Obama did it right. And, you know, everyone, including Joe Biden, seemed to think it needs to be expanded on. But you’re right.

S5: And I and I think part of that, too, is that people are kind of understandably risk averse when it comes to health care. You know, they want like they see that health care is expensive. They see that their insurer is a pain in the butt to deal with. They don’t like the way the system is run. But I think you can forgive people for looking at Congress right now and saying, are these people going to make it better or are they going to make it worse? And when there are sort of big talk about recalling the system, people get a little nervous. And again, I do find it just given the dysfunction that we often see in the federal government, you know, it’s hard to fault them for that. So I think that’s part of it, too, is that it takes people a while to kind of get used to the new system, to get it working for them.

S6: And then they say, I really don’t want to get rid of it, like the way we always had an upgrade on iOS and. Right, right. Exactly. And then two weeks later, you’re telling you don’t want to lose that. You can’t even imagine not having a bit Mojie keyboard.

S5: But I think sort of going back to the issues that have been animating some of the differences between men and women in this election cycle. One of the things that’s really struck me is how Trump’s law and order message, which he’s is, is a coded racial dog whistle and is directed at kind of affluent white suburbanites. He says suburban women, but he clearly means white suburban women. I think to be clear about that, that he’s really been hammering this message of like these protesters are coming to your suburbs and your suburbs won’t be safe under Joe Biden. And there’s going to be development in the suburbs, which, of course, is code for like the suburbs will become more diverse. And he’s really leaned into that. And that has been a tactic that’s been effective for politicians in the past. But it just doesn’t seem to be working for him among white suburban women this time. And I think part of that is to to go back to something. I think I mentioned earlier that there are important differences between Democratic and Republican women on this. But in general, women score lower on this metric called racial resentment, which is what political scientists use to sort of measure this this idea of I mean, it’s racism, basically a form of racism. And it’s a little bit more sophisticated than just asking a single poll question. It’s several questions that are scaled together. And so I do think one of the things we’re seeing this cycle is both that women have been, you know, perhaps more turned off by a lot of the really harsh things the Trump administration has done, especially on immigration. I mean, I think immigration has not been front and center for a lot of people in the past six months. But, yeah, hard to forget some of those images that we’ve seen. And I think, you know, that’s kind of that was like what voters brought into this moment. And then what Trump is using to try to draw those women back is just not working. And so I think and especially after especially all the protests this summer, you know, I think like it’s telling that that tactic, which has really been sort of tried and true. And again, like we don’t have the final results. I’m just going on the poll numbers that were we’re seeing going into the election, but it’s been telling to see that gap persist, even among white women, even among white women without college degrees, which is a group that was pretty good for Trump back in twenty sixteen. And he’s been losing support there.

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S4: Yeah. Let’s talk about education, because I know one of your colleagues has focused on no college white men and man, that it’s just it’s it’s just so hard to stabilize these numbers. I mean, sometimes when all of this is over, we’ll talk about what the suburbs means. And is it possible but that, you know, women of color in the exurbs or in suburbs that are not Winnetka. Illinois or, you know, Ossining, New York, just don’t even when he leaves out the word white, they actually think, what are you even talking about?

S5: You know, totally. I mean, there’s like I wrote a piece on the suburbs where we spent like literally two weeks trying to come up with a definition that we felt comfortable with because. Yeah, like it is not it is not a concept that has an agreed upon meaning. And in fact, it can mean so many different things for something that gets thrown around so much in political talk. It’s really people are really talking about different things.

S4: Well, I bring up Ossining because I think it is I mean, it’s, you know, Don Draper place. And I think it’s what people think of, interestingly, on the in the entrance to my borough, Brooklyn, it says America’s first suburb. So, you know, Brooklyn is across the river and Brooklyn is obviously the erotically left place, which is quite diverse. And Queens also was meant to be a suburb. So I do wonder if in the dog whistle for suburban women, sometimes people actually do say, you know. Like what you mean. Suburban women trump like I am a suburban woman and, you know, I’m Asian, I’m Latina, I’m black, you know, and that also is somewhat interesting that if he’s getting the dog whistle wrong and I also think the kind of narcissism of small differences with Hillary Clinton was big in 2016 for white women who may have less trouble going for Uncle Joe. You know, but obviously, I’m just restyling.

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S5: No, I mean, I think I think that’s right. And it’s something that, like, I stop and think about sometimes. And I think in this in the case of the lead up to this election, there hasn’t there been a lot of things that I wanted to cover and haven’t been able to dig into. But, you know, the role of of sexism is hard to pin down in the way that people vote for candidates. But it is really striking to see all of these people who either didn’t vote in 2016 or maybe voted for Trump, suddenly seeming totally fine with Joe Biden and like, what’s the big difference between those two candidates? Yeah, so I don’t again, I haven’t I haven’t had a chance to do the kind of deep dive that I’d like to. And maybe it’s something I can do after the election. But, you know, it is something that I think hasn’t gotten enough attention this cycle.

S4: OK, so you have such a diverse range of interests and work on so many things at five thirty eight and elsewhere. But you have a degree in religious studies, right. A Masters. And I and I know you’ve done some of the religious the research on religion and the electorate. Tell me about, you know, this that’s quite promising headline that Trump is losing ground with white Christians. Now, what I’m leaving out of that is Trump is losing ground with some M dash, but not all white Christians. So I just try to delete some words in that headline to make it seem as though evangelicals have come to their senses. Now, I know that’s not true, but is there really any statistically significant attrition among white Christians? However, we construe that word Christian.

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S5: Yeah. So I am, as you mentioned, I do in a past life. I went to grad school for religious studies that I’m really interested in religion and I try to write about it whenever I can for the site. And so I had been kind of keeping tabs on white Christians and thinking about white Christians more expansively just because I think, like politically, the focus is often so much on white evangelical Protestants and they do really turn out to vote. So, you know, this is a group that is politically important and politicians are responsive to it. And they have this like long and strong relationship with the Republican Party. So there are reasons for that. But white Christians in general, and I’m talking specifically about white Catholics and then white non evangelical Protestants. So that’s like Presbyterians, Anglicans, Methodists. They have been moving Republican in the past 10 years as well. And Trump won pretty handily among those groups. But they’re not in 2016, but they’re not as strongly Republican as white evangelical Protestants. And so I was curious to know where are these groups now? And I looked and I saw in particular with white Catholics, it’s looking much more like a kind of toss up among white Catholics between Biden and Trump, which is significant because according to the exit polls, Trump won about 60 percent of white Catholics. So. Hmm, if that is, in fact what’s happening and, you know, you have to be careful with margins of error on polls of these sort of smaller populations, but it is a big enough sort of decline that I think it’s it’s worth digging into. That’s bad news for. Because I mean, a white Catholics are concentrated in the upper Midwest, in Rust Belt states, so those are some of the states that Trump really needs to win. Yeah, and also those are voters that he has to make up from other places. And the other thing is that he kind of would have had to do that anyway to a certain extent, because white Christians are shrinking as a portion of the population. And it takes a while for that to be reflected in the electorate as fully as it is in the population, because groups like white evangelical Protestants turn out to vote in such big numbers. So you can have a situation where white evangelical Protestants are like a quarter of the electorate in twenty sixteen and they’re less than 20 percent of the population. And that’s because they turn out and people like the religiously unaffiliated, which is where a lot of the former white Christians are there in that unaffiliated category, are not voting.

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S4: One of the things that sort of caught me off guard in 2016 of the million was that I couldn’t figure out where the values voters were. You know, who who had been I mean, everyone has said this, but who so strongly condemned Bill Clinton for transgressions that were as nothing compared to Trump’s vulgarity and irreligious ness and, you know, everything else and sexual transgressions and three marriages. And so that was confusing. And then I also didn’t understand that libertarians or hawks would go for someone who presented himself as anti-war and also was like protectionist in all these ways. And he wanted a Muslim registry and a lot of government spending and has run up the deficit to huge numbers. So then I thought people are not voting on their professed interests or and in particular values. And from that, I wonder if Catholics are still voting on values or also that their values have not merged with white nationalism, as we’ve seen with some religious leaders among evangelicals.

S5: Well, I push back a little bit on the idea that white evangelicals aren’t voting on their values. OK, I think that their values are not personal character of a candidate in the way that, you know, definitely the rhetoric around Bill Clinton’s impeachment and the Monica Lewinsky scandal implied. So certainly, you know, you can look at that. You can look at the way evangelical leaders treated Bill Clinton. You can look at the way they’re treating Trump. And those are just different worlds. And obviously there’s partisanship there. But I think for a lot of evangelical voters, you know, what they really care about is less that they have a candidate who personally mirrors their own religious values and conduct. I think they’d prefer that. But they really want someone who is going to deliver on the issues that they care about. And Trump has really done that with the issues that they care about. I mean, he’s he has these three nominees to the Supreme Court who are extremely conservative. He’s done all of this stuff in the world of religious liberty and conscience exemptions. You know, even things like moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. You know, these are things that are symbolic but that white evangelical Protestants really care about. And so they see him as having delivered on that. The difference with white Catholics, I think, is just that the issues that they’re voting on this year are really different. And I saw this actually there’s a price survey that that shows this really well, that when you ask white evangelical Protestants what are their top issues, and they had to the top three covid-19 wasn’t one of them. Wow. Yeah. And it was for white Catholics and white Catholics give Trump really poor marks on covid-19 the handling of the pandemic, like most other Americans. They also, interestingly, give him pretty poor marks on his handling of the racial justice protests this summer. So, you know, and again, issues of kind of race and immigration and as you were saying, white nationalism have gotten folded more and more into white evangelicals political priorities and the way they think about politics. So, you know, white Catholics are in some ways much more of that. Like like they’re not they’ve been moving Republican, but they’re not as tied to the Republican Party. They’re not as tied to Trump, and they are voting this year. At least what we can see from surveys on the issues where Trump’s record is is just not not a good one. Yeah.

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S4: And also, it may be there may be some more identity, an attachment to Biden as a Catholic. Right. That’s true, yeah, absolutely. Pence was also Pence and Bannon both say that they were big Kennedy Democrats and as both of them were Catholic, then Pence became more evangelical in the sort of Aimee County Barritt way where it’s like they merge. Right, their Catholicism and some kind of Pentecostalist thing as a rival. Barack, it is pences born again. Pences born again. Exactly. So you sort of born again is not Catholic anymore. Yeah, right, exactly. But I wonder if there’s some voting not on issues or values, but simply just an actual attraction to Biden. I mean, my own hardcore pro-life Catholic family, you know, Kennedy was their dream all along. And they see Biden, you know, as I mean, it’s not as strong as Kamala Harris. Finally someone that looks like me, but I mean, a second Catholic president. It’s just it’s it’s amazing. But that would be if there weren’t so many other crazy features of this election, we would talk about that as potentially decisive.

S6: Yeah. I mean, yeah, we’re definitely it’s definitely not like a Kennedy level, sort of like enthusiasm, like he’s one of us.

S5: But I think in terms of the sort of the cultural recognition, then, like this is a guy who maybe reminds you of your grandfather. Yes, uncle. Sort of these people like, you know, I think like one of the things that we see right now going into the election that does make this feel a little bit different than 2016 is that Biden doesn’t have this enthusiasm or popularity problem that Clinton had. And I think for some voters, that could be part of it, that he just feels, you know, much more like that. You know, there’s kind of just this guy they know or someone who reminds them of someone they they respect.

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S4: Yeah, it’s funny because, you know, while you’d think that they could run a ham sandwich and not Trump could win, I think that there is actual it’s not quite enthusiasm, but it’s just this warm affection for Biden that could could put a thumb on the scale for him, even absent, you know, a terrible opponent, you know, in the have a beer with way, even though they’re both teetotallers, it just would be a much more relaxing night with Joe, whatever your politics, whatever your gender. And I think we spend so much time talking about negative partisanship, but there’s actually something there. I’ve sort of thought of him as a heartbroken candidate for a heart broken time. And there’s something kind of, I think, nurturing both for men and women, you know, in that when we’re sort of at the bottom of our resources, psychic resources, you want that guy to, like, be at your bedside or sit shivah with you. And I think, yeah, I mean, he might be the right guy for the right time, however anodyne he seems. You know, he might be the person you want when you’re kind of picking up the pieces after covid, after the protests, after the kind of catastrophic catastrophes, catastrophes we’ve seen during the Trump presidency.

S7: I want to leave you to this day with the big question, which is what do you think is going to happen?

S6: I wish I knew you have a can you give me a time machine and travel to like, I don’t know, I mean, look like impressionistic, just like you’ve looked at so much data for all these years and even not holding you to anything. This is not prognostication.

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S4: This is not the hideous needle on the front page of the New York Times site in 2016. Nothing like that. But just kind of what is after reading all the data, what is now your very informed intuition tell you?

S6: I mean, it’s funny because.

S5: My intuition says the likeliest scenario, and this is, you know, this is what the five three day forecast says, this is this is not controversial. This is what the other forecasts say as well, that Biden is heavily favored. And all the signs or I think would just as favorite on our forecast right now, I should shouldn’t go out on too much of a limb. But Biden is favored. You know, Trump does still have a chance to win, but is pretty small. And that all of the signs we’re seeing, the overwhelming early vote that we’ve seen people turning out even under, you know what I think are really adverse circumstances. That’s one thing that’s really stood out to me. This election is sort of like simultaneously the fact that some states have not made it easier for people to vote even in the middle of a pandemic and sort of like feeling upset about that. But then at the same time, seeing people really like going out of their way to vote and going out of their way to make sure that their vote counts and really caring about the outcome of this election. And so when you see all of that and you see the urgency with which people are responding to this election, you know that all kind of points to people wanting a change, people being fed up with the current president. That being said, I do have to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the less likely scenarios. And so, you know. Yeah. Is it possible that this race is very close in a couple of key states and we see a bunch of post-election litigation and it gets really messy and it drags on? Trump may just it may turn out that there was a big polling error. There are other factors or, you know, things we can’t predict right now. I spent I think the reason I’m having a little trouble answering your question is that I spend more of my Headspaces thinking about those more unlikely scenarios than they are actually likely to occur, if that makes sense. Yeah. So I can tell you the likeliest scenario is that we’re probably not going to know the result on election night, but that, you know, we might have a pretty good sense of where things are going. And this actually might not be this sort of long, drawn out nightmare of waiting for results and fighting in the courts and all these things that I think like I I’m keeping track of.

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S6: But but I have to be thinking about those things and I have to be prepared for them. And so I guess that’s that’s the unsatisfactory way I would answer satisfactory at all.

S4: I mean, I really do love the kind of caution is is actually really appreciated because it brings the hysteria level down. One thing you didn’t mention as a scenario that I know a lot less measured people are worried about is why terrorism and civil war and at least violence in various cities. And it’s possible to me, when I hear you talk, when I read your work, that as much as racism informs the thinking of Trump voters, they’re not actually armed to the teeth in any significant numbers and willing to start a war over it. You know, when you talk about those white men who haven’t budged and maybe their wives have budged, they do not seem like people with Que tattooed on their forehead who are ready to take people out. They might be, to my mind, misguided in many ways, but they might think that they might hate Obama. They might have harbor racist views. But it’s a long stretch from that to proud boy violence. That’s my thinking in trying to understand Republicans by the data in a way I. I dislike so much of what they believe. But I also, even if they pay lip service to the Second Amendment, I don’t think that they are, you know, loaded up on guns and ammo, are planning to turn over a Walmart to steal guns. But that’s that is totally just reading the data.

S5: No, I mean, and, you know, look, that’s what I’ve heard in talking to experts to I mean, I’ve I’ve done some reporting with one of my coworkers on the rise of militias under Trump. And I think it’s definitely something that has been at the back of my head ever since I was doing that. Reporting in the late summer into the fall is like, are we going to see actual violent confrontations on Election Day? I really, really, really hope. For so many reasons, we don’t see that, and I also have heard from experts that it is unlikely to happen, that it’s more of a thing that gets threatened and maybe you see a few lone wolf type people. And obviously those can go really, really badly awry and people can get really hurt. But, you know, the fact is that we haven’t seen that kind of violence at the polls before. We didn’t see it in twenty sixteen. It’s not a feature. We haven’t seen it in early voting. Right. We haven’t seen it in early voting. I mean, we have seen, you know, like there have been some isolated reports of kind of people showing up armed, but it’s been very isolated and it hasn’t been a pattern and nothing bad has really happened. And so, you know, I mean, that’s that’s my hope that we don’t see any of that today and that we don’t see any confrontations in the coming days. But, yeah, I mean, I think, you know, for the most part, it’s been pretty heartening to me to see how early voting has gone. And again, you know, with the caveat that I think it’s hard not to look at this situation and think, gosh, like where are we as a country that people are having to wait in two or three hour lines to vote in the middle of a pandemic. The fact that people are doing that and they’re doing it peacefully and they’re taking the time out of their day to do it in a very scary time. You know, I find that pretty encouraging.

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S6: Amelia Thompson Davo is a senior writer at five thirty eight. Thanks very much for joining me on Election Day, Trump.

S8: Amelia, thanks so much for having me. And that’s it for today is Election Day show. Trump cast will be with you all the way up to the inauguration of ideally the next president. But in the meantime, tell us what you think. Talk about all your Election Day feelings on Twitter. I’m at page 88. The show is Attfield Trump cast. And please write us whichever app you use for podcasts. Give us five stars and a review. It goes a long way for helping our show and the next show reach an audience. And before you go, don’t forget to sign up for Slate. Plus you get all kinds of advantages and all our podcasts ad free. Plus it makes our work possible. It’s only thirty five dollars for the first year. So go to Slate Dotcom Trump cast. Plus, our show today was produced by Melissa Kaplan and engineered by Richard Stanislaw and Virginia Heffernan. Take it easy today when history is coming way too close to our hearts and homes. Be nice to yourself. Eat a cookie and thanks for listening to Trump cast.