The sickness of Trump voters

images-1The Economist magazine did a statistical analysis of the presidential vote, by county, to find what demographic factor best predicted the swing to Trump (from Romney’s 2012 vote). The percentage of non-college whites was an obvious factor – they went two-to-one for Trump. But The Economist found another factor that correlated even better with Trump’s gains over Romney: health.

They analyzed data for life expectancy, obesity, diabetes, heavy drinking, and exercise (or lack thereof). The worse a county did on these measures, the better Trump fared relative to Romney. Those poor health factors did also correlate with high percentages of non-college whites; but among non-college white populations some did less poorly on health; and there, Trump did less well.

images-2Why? The Economist suggests “that the ill may have been particularly susceptible to Mr. Trump’s message.” They note too a rising death rate among middle-aged less educated white males (bucking the bigger global trend toward longer lives). Drinking, opioid abuse, and suicide are cited as factors; which in turn are linked to deindustrialization and poor job prospects. The Economist deems it unsurprising that people in such circumstances pinned their hopes on Trump (foolish though it may be).

imagesBased on its analysis, the magazine calculates that if diabetes were 7% lower in Michigan, 8% more Pennsylvanians exercised regularly, and heavy drinking in Wisconsin were 5% lower, Clinton would have won.

This might suggest a winning strategy for Democrats would be to focus on public health. But meantime many of them are saying that if only Bernie had been nominated, he’d have won. They still feel he was somehow cheated out of the nomination – even though Clinton got several million more primary votes. Anyhow, the idea that the nation that elected Trump would really have preferred a cheerless 74-year-old socialist Brooklyn Jew is laughable. America is basically a center-right country, not center-left, and certainly not far left. By travelling that route, Democrats will achieve ideological self-satisfaction and electoral irrelevance.

One commenter diagnosed the Democrats’ problem thusly: Kennedy put a man on the Moon. Obama put a man in the women’s room. (At least that’s how some see it.)

I don’t expect another election will somehow snap America back to political sanity. It will most likely be a contest between the White People’s Party of Lies and Nonsense and the Democrats’ Socialist Party of Economic Nonsense.images-1 Can’t we get a third option, a Party of Truth and Reason? Actually, it may not be hopeless. David Brooks writes in a recent column of efforts toward organizing a sensible center alliance in American politics. And as I’ve noted previously, Ross Perot in 1992, running as a third party candidate, albeit very flawed, got 19% of the vote. That’s halfway to winning a three-sided race. If Trump could win the presidency with 46% of Americans voting idiotically, maybe, just maybe, someone could win with 40% voting sensibly.

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6 Responses to “The sickness of Trump voters”

  1. DAN FAREK Says:

    Really!!! Life expectancy, obesity, diabetes, heavy drinking, etc. cause people to vote for Trump????
    More like the common American People, the people of the Bible Belt and the fly-over states, the ignored Middle Class(what is left of it after 8 years of Hussein Obama), people tired of the lies of the Democrats, all of whom are fed up!!
    Dan

  2. Lee Says:

    Does unhealthiness cause desire for Trump, or is it a statistical correlation only, with some third thing causing both?

  3. Lee Says:

    Maybe watching a lot of tv causes both???

  4. rationaloptimist Says:

    Lee, good question. To be clear, yes, it is a correlation, which is different from causation. The sociological factors that cause poor health (on the measures in question) are certainly linked to the kinds of factors that cause receptivity to Trump.

  5. Bumba Says:

    Higher alcohol and cigarrette and drug use, junk food among the less educated.

  6. Roger Green Says:

    Ironically, the Trump victory has probably led to heavier drinking. http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2016/11/29/post-election-stress-big-problem-and-not-just-for-liberals/XjdALfCJMFKqVZy6tinuhN/story.html

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