Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Illusive Obama to Trump Voter

Eric Garner was killed by New York police four years ago today, July 17, 2014. I saw this poem shared on Twitter to mark the occasion:

Remember, Michael Brown was killed (August 9, 2014) after Eric Garner, but it was the same summer and Garner's killing provided part of the context for what happened in Ferguson. I think some people (like me) thought that New York would do right by Garner in some way, but that was later proved too high a bar, even for New York. Both were killed after Trayvon Martin (February 2012) and Jordan Davis (November 2012).

George Zimmerman's not-guilty verdict (July 13, 2013) is considered the beginning point of the Black Lives Matter movement, but for old, white me, BLM dates from the days after Mike Brown's killing in August 2014. I remember those nights, pinned to Twitter and MSNBC, unable to see how we (whatever "we" means there) could come out of it in one piece. One piece. As if we are one piece.

And that's not mentioning Tamir Rice (November 2014) or Sandra Bland (July 2015) and so many others. Some of our local names are Jamar Clark (November 2015) and Philando Castile (July 2016).

Anyway, all of this connects with a bit of analysis I came across today. You know how journalists are endlessly trying to figure out what happened with people who voted for Obama in 2008 and maybe even in 2012, but then voted for Trump in 2016? Remember "economic anxiety," which clearly translated best to racism, since economically anxious black people didn't vote for Trump? Well, that transition may have had a specific inflection point, since a number of folks reporting from the field say the precipitating "event" appears to have been the rise of Black Lives Matter.

This Twitter thread from Slate's Jamelle Bouie starts with the statement,

There’s good evidence that a substantial number of Obama-Trump voters made their partisan switch in 2014 and 2015; before Trump entered the national conversation but during the height of Black Lives Matter.
Bouie says he will be posting data on this soon. He was responding to a tweet by Vox's Matt Yglesias, who wrote:
There’s been a lot of mostly wrongheaded second-guessing of Democrats’ pro-immigration positions but there’s more evidence that they were hurt in 2016 by adopting the unpopular view that it’s bad that cops can kill black people with impunity.
Yglesias in turn was responding to a tweet from Sean McElwee, which said:
One of the public opinion findings that disturbs me the most: consistently warm feelings for police, even among Democrats (Democrats have somewhat warmer feelings towards police than Black Lives Matter).
That tweet includes images showing polling data about positive feelings toward police and BLM from Democrats, Republicans, and independents, which reflect the divide McElwee describes. (Let's guess which Democrats it is who like the police and don't like BLM. Hmm. As it turns out, Pew has an answer for that.)

The commenters on Bouie's thread provide some anecdotal examples from Philadelphia and other parts of the country of this turn against Obama. Separately, New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah Jones concurred, writing "When I interviewed white voters who’d flipped from Obama to Trump this is exactly what they told me."

These three comments from that thread sum it up for me:
I like how “stop shooting black people” is a debatable statement.

Obama-Trump voters expected Obama to reduce or eliminate race-based demands from black people. They blamed Obama for BLM protests in 2014-2016 and turned to Trump.

Ohhhhh, I get it now. When they say Obama increased racial division, what they mean is Obama didn’t “control” the n——s on the plantation. They’re correct on that ... of course that’s not what he was elected for.
Goddess of Gumbo

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