« The Weeds

How to win elections

2020-05-05

Dara, Jane, and Matt break down the great mobilization vs persuasion debate.

Resources:

"What Happened in the Georgia Gubernatorial Election?" Catalist Analytics, Medium

"The case for taking Trump’s black outreach seriously" by Matthew Yglesias, Vox

"Michelle Obama Is Mad at ‘Our Folks,’ Not Trump Voters: ‘That’s My Trauma’" by Kevin Fallon, Daily Beast

White paper

Hosts:

Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias), Senior Correspondent, Vox

Jane Coaston (@cjane87), Senior politics correspondent, Vox

Dara Lind (@DLind), Immigration reporter, ProPublica

Credits:

Jeff Geld, (@jeff_geld), Editor and Producer

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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feel dramatic, but with free cancellation, you can't go wrong with hotels com terms, apply, see site for details. I gotta hang on for a helicopter. The helicopters overshot have gotten excessive and I want like a separate pod gas just about why there are so many damn Hale helicopters going overhead all the time now. I I also have this question, but ok, hello and welcome to another so that the weeds on a box media package, network, Matthew, Ecclesiastes, we're here with that Jane Coastline and proper, because Dara Lynn to add the the economy is that is reopening this week in America, with no problems have been solved as far as I can tell, and the we
along with that, we continue to cower and our separate Homs, rather than than gathering working remotely and responsibly, that we're reopening the weeds topic. Last then he had comply held from before The pandemic became so my denatured really remarkable act of foresight. We had a big brainstorming session to set out the entire next month at the beginning of March. Yes Sattler so we have laid out an editor heard of road map that wound up in a ditch, but we are now returning to citizens. Select element as the road map. And so will you know? What did we wanted to talk about? That? I think continues to be a hundred percent relevant, even as the world has been turned upside down. Is it this is kind of argument simmering throughout the political system for years really about Whether we need to try to win by persuading swing, voters said and sort of bring them over to your side and beckoned mean different things, but sort o classically is
Well, you gotta be moderate, leading to cater to the sentiments of people, voted for Donald Trump last time and make them like Democrats or are we in a base mobilization paradigm, which is something that Oh, you hear a lot from sort of ideologically lefty people, but also which a bite cover has sort of been up a prominent exponent of it in different ways, and when you hear talk that, like Biden, wants to put an african american woman on the ticket, because that's such a core element of the democratic base, I mean there are a number of different dimensional ties to that kind of consideration. But definitely one of them is a sentiment that in that case, it's like you were trying,
to engage the sentiments of like the demographic core of the party and fire people up and have that power directory and again this evil ways you can think about what the base is or who the swing voters are with, which is important, but I also do think there is a sediment Michelle Obama yesterday said, or maybe just two days ago, shit shit. She had this thing was she said you know she's angry about what's happening in the country, but she's not angry at Trump voters, she's angry. She said in Africa against who didn't come out to vote in twenty sixty in and she's angry about Trump winning and she's. Also angry that African American turn out.
So poor in the twenty ten and twenty forty mid terms and see you know she like personalized it. But it's like they did they weren't there for Barrack. She said like they didn't understand the linkage between those mid terms and the success of her husbands presidency or between the twenty sixteen alike. And our understanding of his his legacy, Michelle Obama's version of this was like different from the like. If we do Medicare, for all we're going to mobilise millions of non voting that there's a guy Bernie version of the boats base mobiles. They should thesis and there's a Michelle Obama version of it, but they are both, in contrast to the old conventional wisdom, which is that, like you really have to look at swing, rotors Ray and it's interesting, because this Congress she has come up with regard to the announcement that representative just in a marsh, is pursuing an exploratory committee to run for the libertarian nomination, and you heard from a host of people, mostly never trump conservatives
saying that Amash will steal these votes, and this is going to swing the election towards Trump, when the polling shows that the people who vote for third parties generally are not gettable. Voters they're, not these independent voters. I think that we need to have a real conversation about who, who independent voters actually are and how available swing. Voters are because I think that that's something we saw in two thousand and sixteen, which is that you had the quote: unquote missing white voter that voted for Trump, but that hadn't voted in two thousand and eight or twenty twelve or perhaps had voted down ticket, but had voted the presidential level that idea that their you already have this base to voters. You don't need to convince people, is, I think, very appealing, especially for folks who are supportive of someone like Bernie Sanders, who see that Going outside of their available message is what watering down when you could talk to the many people who you assume already agree with you, and I think we
I believe firmly that everyone actually kind of agrees with this already about most things, but I think this is kind of the political version of is that so there are a bunch of different dimensions to this, and I think it's worth being explicit about them. First, I think, is the question of to what extent is fixed pool of voters. People who already you know who already they're, going to vote and do not necessarily know for whom to vote, and so now, you need to be the person to capture more of those question mark voters than the other guy verses. On the other end of that spectrum, is it a question of everyone knows who they prefer by? You have to make sure that more of the people who prefer your candidate get to the poles than people who prefer any other candidate. That's kind of a a very stark way to put this just in terms of late persuasion, verses, mobilization, others is getting caught up with a conversation about
candidate facts right like to what extent when people show up to the poles or either choose whether to vote for whom to vote. Are they voting for a particular individual versus the set of policies that that individual represents that's kind of thee? you know, that's why Michelle Obama is expressing a certain amount of frustration with black motors over there's. No, there definitely is some evidence that just the existence of Barack Obama on the ticket or not was a rattling is a relevant variable in african american turnout in like two thousand and twelve vs, two thousand and fourteen VS, two thousand and sixteen Then there is this question of all the people who we think of as independent voters really that independent and to what extent does that change over time right like their inner? That's where James Kind of third party thing comes in. That's where the question of is the white Working Class gettable for Democrats comes in, and this is, I think, where honestly deep,
on its mobilization have, over the last four years, done a decent job of laying out demographically speaking, who they think the global non vote, cars are. They have not done as consistent a job of of explaining in a way that maps onto electoral reality. How you get those people to vote? There's a certain like it makes sense, who are invested in movement building would be drawn to the mobilization theory and would also be drawn to a theory of politics that says people turn out to vote because they want policy change, but in practice it's not clear, especially as you get to next a level that, like non voters or inconsistent voters, are mobile, are mobile. Ated cool mobilized and motivated by the prospect of policy change the persuasion. Folks, on the other hand, it seems to me have done a diesel job of laying out, I would say if they ve been fairly consistent on. You need like candidates with good messages and policies that aren't so extreme? Is too
current bunch of people off they have not done as far as I can tell as clear a job of laying out exactly who they think the gettable voters are and establishing that those people are actually gettable, as opposed to just assuming that everybody who tells a pollster that they're independent is up for grabs in any given election. I think it's helpful to sort of bring some kind of precise details because, as in a lot of aids that have been running for a long time. There is a tendency for people on all sides of this to have like little talk. Points that they use, which are accurate and then, if you selectively, deploy them young, greater, very misleading picture. As far as we can tell if african amount, turn out in twenty sixty and had been as high as it was in two thousand eight and twenty twelve instead of narrowly losing Wisconsin, shhh again and Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton would have narrowly one those three states so in a innate
a bird literal sentence. It is true that had black turn out, maintaining maintain that level would have won, and so you can say in a certain but far causation way Hillary lost because of the fall and african american turnout. I think a more true way of looking at it is that african american turnout in two thousand and sixteen was equal to where it was in two thousand and four or two thousand that, if you adjust for educational attainment, african american turnout was higher than white turnout and that what you had is in two races. When Obama was on the ticket. Black turnout spiked too, like a super unusual level that there has never been seen
before against not just African Americans, but for any demographic subset of the population and and of course Hillary Clinton could not like inspire the same level of turn out as the historic first african american president and that that's completely unrealistic. And if you look at it quantitatively right. There are many more people who are in the bucket of Non College: whites who voted for Obama and then voted for Trump. Then Africa Americans who voted for Obama and and didn't didn't vote in twenty and sixteen those are both groups of people and had you been able to fully reverse either of those things Hillary would have won, but the switching was just a numerically larger phenomenon
and also like it's easier to see how a bunch of people who, whatever their score in a racial resentment index, they were sufficiently not racist to vote twice for Barack Obama. Still like Democrats should be able to get people who voted for Barack Obama to vote for Their white candidates seems like a plausible bar, whereas a white Democrats should be able to inspire the level of turn out of a historical figure, doing an unworkable phenomenon like that seems a little. Let us like more power to you if you could do it, but like unrealistic in an obvious way that, like get people who voted for Obama to also vote for Joe Biden is like that's a little banal right by like what what why? Wouldn't you do that, and the other thing did did you get in. This is a kind of demographic electoral college so like to the way the electoral code,
works, is that if you win Pennsylvania, narrowly you in Pennsylvania, but the margin, otherwise doesn't matter, and people sometimes get to talking in that way about demographic groups, so you'll be like Democrats are never gonna win the white Working class at which I think is totally true, but it's not an electoral college, so like getting twenty five percent, for it is getting thirty. Five percent of Non College white voters actually makes a huge difference right and- and that's where I think we as upon the top, receive gone to a lot of trouble after the twenty twelve election, because I apologize, I read with Don College whites in twenty twelve, but he one anyway. So we said like how could a person win the election despite getting creamed so badly with Don College whites, and then we spun up all these takes about the growing latino vote about african american voters about college educated professionals, blah blah
four years later, Democrats guy cream, just like even worse, but non college whites and suddenly they lost the election. And suddenly the electoral college Map flipped against them and, like the Senate, looks permanently out of reach. And just like to me, I think, like that. That's the reality is most important to keep in mind with these things that it's like. You should try to get more votes from demographic subset. Doesn't mean you get all their votes and that, like stupidly, literal reason that Non College whites matter Alatas a demographic is that they are simply much more numerous than any other race education, like subdivide, they're, not like magic, there's just three times as many of them. I think all this as far as good as far as it goes, but I I don't think It gets us to the actual. The reason that this is relevant in twenty twenty. As that we haven't
action in which an incumbent who one whit, who won the primary with a pretty pure mobilization strategy, although they didn't necessarily understand that at the time- and you know appear like in in some respect- stipulating that the margin of victory was so narrow and the key states and twenty sixteen that like to say, a victory, was due to any particular thing is wrong, but among the things that lead Donald Trump to victory, despite predictions, not in not assuming as much was like turn out in play in states like Florida, where it was where it was coming from the same kinds of people who had been inconsistent voters, had supported him in the primary, and so you can kind of assume, especially given the extent of governing for them. And the rabbit affection of the base that they're running a mobilization, playbook in twenty and twenty on the democratic side. You have a that winning who did not inspire much passionate,
loyalty among party activists, is, I think, a good way to put it whose support, while broad, was often assumed to be softer shallow, which doesn't necessarily mean that it was soft shallow, but does say something about what the people doing that. Maintaining expected out of Joe Biden Vans- and it does seem like Democrats in oh- do have a recent fairly history with losing an election to a republican and presidential incumbent with Having a candidate who was just not interesting enough to inspire a lie. Either to inspire mass mobilization like the the twentieth election was in part a successful effort by the George W Bush administration to turn it into a choice between. In Bush and John Kerry, rather than turning it into just a referendum on Bush. So this kind of the big question
in me all right here, so you should be going after demographically theory is. Do you do that? by running Joe Biden, and if so, is it because of a unifying message how much policy space, how much policy leeway is there for a candidate to run to the left without turning off, and I would like to turn to run to the left in order to try to win some of the constituencies of the Democratic Party who didn't turn out framing the primary without turning off the very voters who his theory of the case suggests season it to win that those are questions that I dont think are being addressed by the current round of persuasion versus mobilization debate and that's exactly what Democrats me to be asking yeah. It's interesting
I was I've been thinking a lot about cars are. I think that this goes to perhaps a separate conversation, but a lot of this place until it. What exactly we think the presidency is supposed to do and the increased power that we have given to the executive branch, which I think that Democrats occasional kind of forgot about in two thousand and ten and two thousand and fourteen when you think of the presidency, is kind of the be all and end all, and I actually think in some ways that that's very much what you saw you see from Trump who references his when sixteen, when all the time, even though like yet, we ve had now multiple elections since that point, and so I think that One of the challenges here is that we get it do you explain what what were you saying they're more about about the presidency? I think that there is occasionally with some voters and assumption that yeah you vote for the person. You ought to be president and then everything changes in the way
You see that it should change that Barack Obama, winning and two thousand eight should have ended institutional racism and generally fixed everything, and that that was essentially it's almost kind is as if we do this kind of end of history thesis for every election that this marxist giant sea change in how we will perceive all events- and you saw that in twenty sixteen from some of the people who are the most We aligned with Trump the idea that this rule as representative of the sweeping changes that would perhaps make Democrats permanent minority and we heard that from Democrats in twenty twelve talking about Republicans would be a permanent minority. Nothing is permanent. This is all going on forever, but I do think that there is an idea of the presidency's specifically- and you heard this- there is a I've referenced it before. There is a great peace
our written just after the twice external action about african american voters in Milwaukee, who very much saw kind of, could Hillary Clinton and Trump as being basically the same thing and kind of. I don't know if we voted the last time, but nothing happened Us- and this is the idea that I think there are a lot of people, especially on twitter, especially who can do this work. Who think that the political motivations of the people who vote are similar to the political motivations of the people. Who talk about politics. All the time that the people who are voting for a specific campaign are doing so on the basis of the having carefully looked at their entire platform or who are deeply twisted and this the entire political milieu, and I dont think that that's how most people think- and so I do think that there is something to be said for the purse for the persuasion model. And I think
while mobilization. I think it is a more popular concept among people who think about politics all the time. I think the persuasion model might actually work better for what people actual how people actually vote this kind of jumps off. What what you were saying about that the presidency right, but one thing that I think you are very strongly with both the Obama presidency and the current presidency- and maybe I think, would would be, would be lessened. I think it up in a bar. Arab, but that, like Barack Obama being in the White House, was seen why a large minority of Americans as a symbolic affirmation of Their sense of what America is all about and was seen by another minority of people as like, a huge rejection and integration of that, and it with trumpet completely flips right.
You have all kinds of people we forget. Dare I know this is like a like a thing of yours, but can all kinds of, like fear, Lee Privilege, white people who pre corona virus, at least we're not like personally suffering that much from anything. The trumpet ministers was doing feeling very, like psychically, assaulted, by tramping being president and its obvious that a number of more racially traditional Hest Americans saw Braga Bombers presidency and in in the same way, right is like a as they as its aim, and I thought Coronel belches Buck. A black man in the White House is, is really good on this for a so while the public GO bomber being president was a psychological and symbolic assault and their understanding of the country and then
from being president, is that for another set of people and people who are motivated about politics have that kind of way you can enter stand why they then, like they, don't care about the mid term election for governor therein, really important policy stakes in all elections, but this like who are we as a country, is an exclusively presidential thing and isn't really speak to specific policy points. Like Obama, you know, did some sound like you didn't, have a particularly like aggressive racial justice agenda and notably a less aggressive one. Then like every white Democrat running in twenty twenty a but like he was, black person, which is a really big deal right, and I think that this is the other reason. So, but what has been fascinating to me about watching this debate? up again as Democrats the less around or settle on. Depending on how you see it, Joe Biden has the nominee. Is we all
ready have enow, as you will two earlier Matt, a very visible Vive, stakes and part of it does appear to be a product of constituencies who weren't, super enthused by the democratic President presidential choice looking to get in used or people who are trying to reach out to those voters. Looking till I could keep them in the game, and the face of that has been Stacy Abrams, who has been fear publicly lobbying for vice pray, and shall not, or at least has been doing it in such a way that people who don't want her to get. It have been leaking that her people are lobbying for it, which, like maybe as just an old school instinct of mine, that that seems, like you know, like this sort of thing. That is likely to not endure you D party at. I would like to interrupt you very quickly to say that, like that's not to say that this doesn't happen before it,
that normally we don't know about it right, you're, right, it's one of those we're like if, if it's coming out publicly, that doesn't mean that that means that some one heard about it and thought. That's a bad idea that I'm gonna leak it to try to stop, but also she doesn't deny it in the press right, that's the critical difference right so, like I remember, I was reporting on the Hillary Veeps, eggs and somebody I asked of us do somebody I was supposed to look into was Tom Veil sack who, as the agriculture secretary that time and he's like on the record quote, was something like I'm focused on my work, defending America's farmers and then, like his spokesperson, sent me this like huge fucking pdf of Like ninety billion reasons. Tinville sack should be vice president of the United States, but if you just like asked him, he would say something like very coy itself abrogating Would Abrams is doing that's different. Is it if someone asked, Sir, like? Would you like to be vice presidential again that we call right, which is obvious but you'd like breaks the site,
Weird tat rang were that you're not supposed to say you would accept a major promotion in your fucking career as a politician and lake. It works very well with the lane that Abrams has built for herself in the democratic path where inner she gave a state of the union response. It was actually very broadly liked which nobody ever does bed before she was known for pushing a mobile mobilization the theory of the electorate. She head, you know done eight. She had put a lot of her effort toward spending the electorate in in Georgia. She head, you know, was inferior face of the fact that you can run as a progressive in a red state and when, as long as you're and people who haven't traditionally voted and make get them invested and bring them out to vote, which is to say, Stacy able
Who is now you know in the running to become Joe Biden Vice presidential pick has historically advocated for a view of how Democrats can win elections. That is very highly content to the view that got Joe Biden the democratic nomination, and I think that that contradiction can be resolved. If you adopt, the kind of pure representational has to be of having an african American on the ticket, is going to bring out black voters and it like not necessarily checks that box, but that that is more power full than anything Joe Biden as a white man could do to bring those voters out, but it does pose something of a problem for the people who believe strongly that the Democratic Party needs to not only a multiracial party but a multiracial, progressive Party in the kind of bluntest way. To put it if representation is the most effective, strategy for bringing out non white voters, then if you believe that the interests of non white voters aren't
we were well served by a centre or centre left party, it doesn't matter because a centres centre left party can still find enough. People who agree with its views. Any race and put them on the ballot- and you know the act- the people believe that there is an interesting. The democratic party. The multi racial, progressive coalition or working class coalition, and getting shut out of the decision making process by their own voters in that model. Ok, let's, let's take a breakdown, and then I went on wednesdays about Stacy Abrams, because I think she's a great case study and in how how this stuff gets weird. If the last year's taught us anything, it's that we don't know what will happen next, but there's one thing we can all be sure of the only future is one we can all share and leading the charge in building that future is mercy core with over forty years of humanitarian work under its belt building, together Mercy Course DNA and, as the climate crisis increases their partnering with those on the front lines
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Not a lender terms and programme rules apply only so. I have written about this on on vaccines com, but I really recommend a medium post called what happened in the Georgia gubernatorial action and there were some by catalyst analytics, and they are just like one of the top by Democratic Party like data for straight, and they look at the Georgia Goodman Tory Election in a lot of detail. And what did they do? Is they compare twenty sixteen to twenty eight team because a Abrams lost in twenty eighty in, but she came much closer
two beating Brian Camp, then Hillary Clinton had come to beating Donald Trump and the interesting thing is they show that Abrams ran weaker with african american voters than Hilary dead, but she made up for it by running stronger with white voters. So why Abrams lost? It is true that she ran a strong where it is, and the Democrats you know, could shit she's seems like a pretty good politician and they're, probably lessons to be learned from our campaign in Ossetia. Some some appeal as a person, but it very specifically wasn't the appeal that she advertise stand. You see it on the board, because race in age or very intertwined did a lot of southern states. She didn't worse than Hilary with young voters, but significantly better with Hilary benn Heller did with old voters who are a larger share of the electorate. So if you look at Stacy Abrams, none
in terms of what Stacey Abrams says, she's doing with the electorate, but in terms of what Joe Biden says he's doing with the electorate, she's actually a great match for that, which is that Biden. If you look at current polling matchups with Trump Biden, is doing worse than Hillary with young voters and is doing worse than Hillary with non white voters. Making it up by doing better with old voters and with white voters and old people white people are more numerous in the electorate, and that is in fact exactly the Stacey Abrams template. So I'm one level I feel, like the the biggest way that Abrams could be an asset. Is that I think, if you said explicitly, my strategy is to try to increase Democrats appeal to old, wipe that there would be a lot of internal coalition resistance to that idea. But if you put Stacey Abrams on the ticket, who was effective at increasing Democrats appeal to old white people,
and say. Oh, we really wanna energize young people of color, but then you actually try to get the votes of old white people them be the kind of easiest way tat you know. Maybe he makes a medicine go down easier if Stacy Abrams is the face of the appeal to old. Why people strategy it's very much. I've been thinking a lot of the about how we signal things or position ourselves to other people and so much of they like we. I got a email notification from the magazine, the nation announcing their articles of the day and there the article was something like why we need a black woman. Vice president, my first thought was: I just anyone like just find one. You get a black woman just vice president now, because it's a signal who those older white voters it has nothing to do with what Stacy Abrams thinks or what come on Harris thing. Come Le Harris thanks or like their specifics. It is this is a black one.
And you said you wanted to vote for someone who would appeal to african american voters at no time work- can Americans consulted about this, but it's a signalling mechanism to other white people, so I do think that the any african american woman question is like various. A moral argument here, which is that, like it is generally a bad idea to see non white politicians is interchangeable parts and then there the purely electoral question of lake, all else being equal? Is there in fact an advantage to putting in a like that? It's it seemed its I mean this is ultimately an affirmative action argument in a way. But it's the same argument like that. It's the same way, the affirmative action argument gets Miss characterized rightly, if you think of it
as you can pick any like women of color off the street and shall be a better vice president than any white man Praetor like do a better job like that's not the point. The point is: is there enough of a benefit associated with being a politician who looks like you, which is like not nothing right, and I think that this can also can often get reduced to two instrumental asthma token in like intra activists debates because among people who are already super motivated by politics, the idea, of some wine hearing a lot about what the face in the White House looks like a lake, it leads to politics that people within them at a party coalition and who are active. Dont really like great, like the Democratic Party coalition, thinks of itself as a movement of and by and for the people where lake? It is the electorate, Making demands and their leaders are fulfilling them data. It's not
party that is super politically well suited to thinking of itself as a set of personality, so anything we're like. Oh, yes, it turns out that a lot of people who aren't you really are motivated by the idea of having someone who looks like them, isn't something that appeals. But that doesn't mean it's not necessarily true to a certain extent. So there is that, but I think the other thing that is and of worth paying attention to in me. You know in this question is that you're not just running any election in a vacuum. You're running it against other candidates who are running different play books, and I am not convinced at all that you can look at Stacy, Abrams, verses, Brian Camp and map it onto Joe Biden versus Donald Trump, because the other in that? The thing that Republicans have been learning for the last four years is the thing that Democrats were learning for the previous aid, which is you're running immobilization campaign and your mobile iser is your candidate and that candidate isn't like
really on the ballot. Your mobilization targets aren't going to turn out, and so the The question I think for me is when faced with TAT Being on the ballot again and being able to draw out some of his voters, who didn't have a whole lot of it in voting for non trump Republicans. Does that change the calculus of how We get a voters there are and how many voters you would need to capture of those in order to counteract the number of what kind of coming in from outside the likely vote sample and a mid term. Why that social rights-
you know I'm. Maybe we have a couple like very clear patterns and in life, which is that, like many fewer people vote in mid terms than vote in presidential elections, white, like of all types and like almost nobody votes in primaries and one thing about primaries- is that means that, like pure mobilization, strategies can be very successful in primaries, because the baseline turnout is so low, and it also means that there's a block of people who do vote. They just don't normally voting primaries, and if you can get them to go vote for you in a primary. And I think that's a lot of the Donald Trump story right there was this element of people who were mostly voting for republican candidates, but who were not that emotionally or intellectually invested in republican Party politics to have been voting in previous primaries and Donald Trump really spoke to them,
right and it's not that he conjured up new voters out of non voters, but he conjured up new participants in the primary out of people who had previously been kind of churlish of us for the Republican cut counterparts right and that's like a super real thing, and we
Bernie Sanders said he was gonna. Get like we just knowing servant is that young people like Bernie Sanders and so would he said his strategy to win the primary was to get young people who, like Bernie, Sanders aloud and who but voted for Hillary Clinton like voters, and he was gonna, get them to participate in the primary process in a way they hadn't before. There was, I, in my opinion, a completely plausible strategy, and then it didn't work, but like sometimes strategies don't work because their crazy and like nobody has ever done that and, I think to say, will we're gonna win a general action by overturning the past. Fifty years of pattern were old people vote more than young people, like that's crazy, but to say we're gonna get people who vote in general elections interested enough in our case,
Did you see that they're gonna vote in a primary too? I guess totally reasonable that the it's hard you think it's hard to become president, but but it happens all the time you know in one way or another, but I think you know, I think, is implicit in what you are saying. Dara, but like so much of that margin is not really about palace. It's about, and we say it's not about policy, because, like sanders, fans clearly felt that burning presidency would deliver some kind of sweeping policy change. That Biden wouldn't and they feel very at hats to that. But if you dig down into the annex of Michael, why would that be? It hinges alot on his incorruptible nature, right, unlike his personal care, rather than like sober assessment of how Congress works and just
same way, that, like Donald Trump right, he like he owns the lips somehow right leg in a non specific way. An Barack Obama like affirms that the arc of history bends toward justice separate front for from his legislating, and you know what you would expect right. People who were at the margins of politics, people vote sometimes, but not all the time or people who change their mind, about which party to vote for our people who like less invested in the like boring grind of annual appropriation cycles, and they care more about other kinds of stuff that it's you can't like turn on and off for the switch right. You can just say like Joe Biden but symbolically signal correct. Is like he's got right. He has shown, I think, a lot of like political smarts that some other Democrats lacked in terms of just like being careful about what positions he take.
I mean, but he's in the entire strategy of just not say anything at all which people for some reason really rare like. Why isn't Joe Biden saying more stuff like no now, if you're Joe Biden just don't, say anything like at a Calvin Coolidge. This shit for six more months like just ring me back to reminding me why I was so frustrated with lake the discourse around the twelve months of the democratic presidential primary before anyone started voting, because so much of it was people making. The tempting to make these calculations, who didn't necessarily have any evidence on that like it was a lot of theories, how my preferred candidate can win not just the primary but the general election based on well? I think that my candidate appeals to people like X, Y and Z, The problem with that, fundamentally, above and beyond. Just
Voters are necessarily particularly skilled at this sort of thing: Not you know like it's just not something that selected for in primary electorates. Is that by mission. These are a lot of people who are already highly motivated to turn out to vote in a general election, making predictions about what people who are less motivated to turn on vote for Democrats in a general election will do, and so you have, either a sort of everyone. Like me assumption or the reverse assumption of well. This candidate doesn't particularly appealed to me, but I can understand how he'd appeal to never trumpet I can understand how he'd appeal to the white Working class, and this is the reason that I keep coming back to. Oh for is, it seems not implausible to me that a candidate could be more broadly
tolerating or lakes than the alternative, but not be able to successfully turn enough people out to vote, and that, I think, is the real. Can the real weakness of the persuasion approaches that it not it just. It doesn't always acknowledge the downside in affirmative de mobilization. If you have a candidate who, right you know, doesn't have the represent national appeal to get young voters or non white voters or whatever out an doesn't necessarily have what ineffable, you know, identity, politics, quality at a politician like Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders does not. I and he politics in the way that people talk about it, which is basically demographics, but identity. Politics in the lake you know building a fan, sense and I'm just I'm not sure what you do as apart
if you're, going to run a persuasion playbook in the general election to figure out whether that's actually gonna get enough voters out. Yet I think I would. I would love more research and kept separate conversation on the idea of demotivating, because I think that that's a really important part of this not yet, as I think that how we talk about motivating the voters that we want to see, vote should be coupled with how we think about demo. Waiting other voters- and I think that we have seen that repeated- like we ve- seen motivation, tactics, work because sometimes it seems to happen by the people who think that they can activate a specific base or a base that you should vote but isn't voting anything best example, I can think of is Roy Moors special election in Alabama twenty seventeen, which was
It is as the first some people who are very supportive of Morris candidacy before the allegations came out regarding his past. As we know he's a true conservative. This is someone who has stood up quota and quote for constitution before, because you can't do that if you're not gonna heaved off the Alabama Supreme Court a couple of times, but he was in France blade de motivational to swing public ends and two more modern, republicans ride? The story of the dog Jones more election was really just the out tens of thousands of Republican saying no, thank you I don't want any part of this, and so I think that that something that needs to come up is that, while a candidate may not be like getting people to vote for them in droves. There is also how candidates can themselves be de motivational, and I think of this interview. You saw this with Roy more, but you also see it with kind of the. U occasionally, the
Did it that best matches all over your hopes and dreams is also the candidate who will look? Who will de motivate people who do not quite share your hopes and dreams, and so I think that that is why no we spend a lot of time talking about how everybody hates centrists and nobody like centrists candidates, but it turns out that having a candidate who doesn't make people mad enough either to shop against them or not show up at all, but it's just sort of like well there. There is politically kind of effective issued, so David Brooklyn has, as a paper on swayed and should have turned out an ideology, and so here can at ask for discontinuity in congressional races. So when you have a close primary outcomes, swayed you get fifty one per Sandra get forty nine percent. And you get either more extreme or more moderate candidate, and what he finds is that when extreme candidates win primaries, turn out for their opponents goes
so that there is a certain amount of like holy shit. I gotta turn out and stop this crazy guy right, whereas around banal person, you will say whatever I'll stay here and I do think that had Sanders or Warren been the democratic nominee, they might have had some upsides on us other dimensions, but that that would have been a real thing right a certain number of centre to write, center people who have a bunch of problems with tram Pineau who were looking at. The corona virus situation, or whatever else you mean like I've, had enough of this. They would look precisely at those promises of sweeping policy change and those impassioned fans and say: oh, my god. This is really alarming, whereas they might look at a lot of young
Fds. Being like Biden he's not even gonna change anything and be like yep. That's fine right, like unnecessarily like. I love Joe Biden now, but just be like I'm where I am. I got a lot going on in life like hundreds of people, dont vote right in any given alike. Ryan and creating a situation in which your side is seen as less threatening is important. To that end, I think it's important stand that, like the media's sphere, is full of the kind of people who were amp up by Donald Trump Right either, because we have cosmopolitan in political values and find him repulsive because we are like riding the trump away you give up to the top, but is another segment of voters for whom Republicans are gonna. Take your such as security away, was a motivating voting topic who
not that into some other things. Democrats had to offer, but for whom, like Democrats are fighting for your social security benefits, was a really good message and Trump took that message. Away from democratic right, but it was a mainstay of like how we're Democrats, advertising in rural Michigan and Rural Pennsylvania was on these themes that Trump deprived them of, and probably persuaded some people to come over to his side, but it also just hurt Oh cried sort of go to mobilization message, because when you're mobilizing your people, you gotta mobilise all kinds of people you know. So I guess you try to mobilise young people. You ve had mobilise African Americans trend, mobilise like he knows, but like them
rats also try to mobilise. Like retired autoworkers, you know, and you need a message that works for them and Trump is trying to take millions of people's health care away. I think was a pretty good message like a mobilizing message for that, but in twenty sixteen, like Hilary didn't, have a great mobilization message for certain classes of of Democrats. It'll just be different with by you, don't mean, like Trump has given him. Some new too wars, but he lacks the like mobilization, impact of electing a woman president. You know which will be, I think, a real issue for whom I am sure we shall we do to white paper, let let's white paper it alright. Let's do it.
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was forced to reveal in some detail how they are scoring different applicants, and you know what it shows is what, frankly, and by experience when I was a journalist, campus, everybody sort of already believed, although other they wouldn't admit it, which is that asian american candidates who are accepted for admission are much stronger academically than non. An asian candidates and that the reason for that is that a lot of asian candidates. Who are academic strong are being booted low ratings on the personal index. Measures of this is interesting out. One thing they add here: is there actually able to just three
out the like legacies and athletes and and things like that, and just look at the pool of non legacies. Non athletes non development cases and they show that even in their excepted, Asians dunes are much academically stronger and because asian applicants are getting much lower ratings on personality scores, then they show the interesting added benefit, which is that when alumni If you interview asian candidates, they candidates they their personality scores. Allow is the admissions professionals who are looking at them on paper are deciding that their their personalities. Oh then they do some you now of the kind of statistical wizardry where they try to show
that there are no known like observable characteristics. That would account for this, so people who have been interviewed asian applicants and haven't met them are deciding based on unobserved, ball characteristics that they have bad personal fit for the school and they feel they so strongly. Despite having not met them that there is a huge you gotta, get a Jackie Robinson effect right. The the asian applicants who make it through are just like way stronger in their basic grades and and test scores and had some awfully suspicious. I would say I would even say it suspicious, like on some Laval, it's like absolutely clear what's going on, which is that, however, it is already twenty percent asian like under this admission system and just like they used to
of systems in place of the ivory leagues to prevent it from becoming too jewish. It's ten times over represented Asians relative to the general population, and so the schools are trying to prevent a situation in which they can see. Colleges are half asian in their student bodies because they think that that would not achieve the kind of social role that like they want Harvard to play in America. I have like eleven separate questions on this. I think, first and foremost, perhaps met and are, as the two people on this pod cast, who attended Ivy League institutions. I said for many people who might be listening to them
the entire concept over the alumni interview is. That is a very specific experiences that great progress, as far as I can tell the function of this is actually nothing to do with the admissions process and is all about getting the alumni to feel like like they are doing something and are therefore gonna give give money later. On But it's interesting data point for this particular thing, because it doesn't mean we have some evidence of like. Are these academically talented asian applicants like super awful in some other way and like the people who are interviewing them, don't feel that it's the the pros shape?
The class feel that way, I'm very entertained by the line that like it, must be the case that either asian Americans are substantially worse on other characteristics, Harvard values or there are being discriminated against, or some combination thereof and I'd like well. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it's probably not the former, and it's interesting, though also because what gets me about these alumni interviews and just kind of the basic conceit here with Its point noted is that it appears to be focused on when you are interviewing someone, and I think, every
he does the US. If you ve ever been on a job interview, you try to match the cadence and the appearance and the language of the person interviewing you and in the person interviewing you is. I call this person seems great because they are trying to be more similar to you, and so so much of this is actually has nothing to do with the qualifications to actually attend Harvard University, a delightful place with a delightful taco restaurant that will now sir frozen Marguerite US, but has more to do with. Can you match the cadence and appearance and basic mill you of a person who has already attended this university? That seems to me like that. I get like the. I think that that's where you get into these the question of quota quote cultural fits or even like kind of the b s. Mismatch hypothesis like this idea like if you can mimic what it looks like to have
already attended, Harvard the people who have already attended Harvard Rebecca? Yes, you can come here and I found that. That's that's concern. I have struggled a certain amount with this, because I have this extremely caucasian reaction of defending village. Missy of any institution that benefited me personally. I like I appreciate that, I got here to me that the extent which I know that that I made a very self conscious effort as a high school student to make the powers that be like me- by making by like not seeming like a cut throat competitor like I'm not fundamentally, but I also you that it was very important to play that aspect up to kind of get at the ineffable character. And to seem like more of a whole person rather than just a Gunnar, because that's the kind of highest articulation of what these sort of interactions are supposed to accomplish right. You want to
given the premium that an ivy league degree can give you in the job, market, etc, etc. The connections you're going to be getting by going there in, fear. You want to make sure that that those slots are going to people who ay will like use them for good in vaguely moralistic way and be make it a miserable experience for other people on campus. So you do want to select to a certain extent for people who are going to collaborate with their peers rather than compete with them. That kind of thing whether you can have weather-
figure figure that out as a in a single conversation, either as a trained admissions counselor or as an alarm is like a totally legitimate questions. You can see an argument for some sort of character assessment, just as away for a university to make sure that it still a pleasant place to beat. You know there are schools that have reputations of being super cut, throat and kind of miserable, and, if you like that, you like it and if you dont you don't but right now, the elite college market is so competitive. An ivy league. Schools are trying to get a perfect to everything that is very important for them to project that really their students like to have fun that their good people. That kind of thing the problem is that this kind of gets into begging. The question right, because the argument that there is a problem with unaware that the things you can observe about asian students or and the same as intellect are going to lead towards a more negative assessment, rely
is on the assumption that asian student at that age, an american students, are going to come off as cutthroat competitors, which is like more than a little stare typical and also a thing that, if you already assumed to be the case, you're going to just be confirmed in that assumption, because by definition at this point in time, if you're in the top defile of Harvard Applicants,
you are probably you know: you're, probably an extremely academically competitive person. So I do struggle with this, because I think it's impossible to look at the history of college emissions and see character as anything other than a stocking horse for our kind of people. But I think that the idea the university has an interest in doing something other than pure academics, election or pure extracurricular selection or anything else that can be easily games is strong, but I mean I wanted to talk talk Turkey here for a minute right. I mean that the sub text of this whole litigation, which is about the treatment of asian applicants, is like actually about African american and latino applicants sprite, where there is a policy in place at most of the well reputed private universities and
and some of the public universities of trying to prevent the african american latino share of the student body for MIKE falling below some like horrifically tiny threshold right and it means that race is being considered as a factor in admissions. There has been a lot of Supreme Court litigation about that. And you were allowed to do the right like that's it, that's a permitted admissions practice. Again. A number of states have prevented their public universities from doing it, but for private universities camp. But if you re freedom that question as not our universities allowed to give a boost to black and latino applicants, degraded, diverse class, but our universe,
these allowed to discriminate against asian applicants in order to I've, been a guess, also produce a diverse class. That sets a look a lot desir right like if you go into historical arguments, about the meaning of the fourteenth amendment and like the understanding of the reconstruction Congress and Bob, I it's it's very challenging. I think, to find a construe all of the history of civil rights thinking in the United States, where, by deliberately disk naming didst asian applicants is an acceptable kind of practice, and so you know, barring that is having its. It is meant to help is an applicant's to elite colleges, but has also meant to put the squeeze on the larger admission system, because if you treated white and asian applicants on a par but continued to give a boost to blacken latino applicants even wider,
Very few white students students actually allowed allowed in the mix there- and you know schools like schools- aren't want to do that and it raises the question of like: positive discrimination, be allowed, but negative discrimination isn't, unlike what are we doing here and is designed to push toward like a fully re, spined admission system, which you know I mean. I think it is easy to understand why people want that and then it's also tied up in questions about the leg. What are actually the stakes here right like this very little, I think, like reason to believe that the marginal student going to pen rather than Harvard is like generating important changes. In the universe, but it matters a lot symbolically. Right, like these are very they're. Elite institutions, like the most literal sense like
You talked about a lot. A lot of their alumni are in Congress or in the media and like one, we and they want to do affirmative action. I think is that, like there are a lot of, majority minority congressional districts in the United States like a lot of blackmail. You know people are going to be elected to Congress and Harvard and Yale to make sure that that's a lot of carved and Yale alumni like in all the districts right in all the states. They do state based affirmative action. So, like the little rural states get a bonus. Oh yeah, just geographic diversity, and they bury it in here, but geographic diversity is, I think, the gray. Remaining advantage for white people. But that's how you get Ben SAS and Tom Cotton and you know,
There's like a billion like a bit. The genius of the Ivy League is that it's like the black members representing poor inner city districts. A lot of them went Ivy League schools, a lot of the right wing cultural populists from heavily for all states. A lot of them went Ivy League schools right, it's like they want to own all. The court hers and capping asian admissions at around twenty percent. Helps you achieve that. They're. Just aren't that many asian people in America right, like they ve, got plenty in that corner and are trying to capture all the other corners of the metal winning figures. Aid is add the yeah. You know Queen Ahmad Allah from the STAR wars movies like they say they want. They want fingers in every pie and like that. This is what you get and it's like it's a little crazy when you talk to Europeans about this and they just like love red, takes a test and the Euro
school you test into unlike american private universities, would never do that not now because they hate meritocracy, but because, like success in life, is so much more multi d, should all, then how you do on the USA to use and they want to own all. The dimension and that requires like a lot of monkey business. It's interesting because I feel it so much of this discussion has met said is actually bout, african american latino students and it's interesting, how asian chickens are being used in some respects by some people as a proxy for that, so that they can have this conversation. Without actually talking about white people. Despite that, in my view, I think actually want to talk about white people, and they people they do not believe should be attending these universities. People like me, any help in this. Does it doesn't make this paper a little bit at once, welcoming and also welcome it also encounter because lake
They're are essentially using white as the Dummy race Variable, which means that raised of the time they are comparing directly to wet applicants, but, like sometimes throw out and there's also a big character, benefit for less qualified african american or latino after applicants, and it does make it a little bit uncomfortable to read something like that, knowing that it's going, that those things which are not the thrust of the paper are going to end up being, if not the explicit political talking points the. I know that the target of whatever remedial pop policies would get instituted and rat feel that the authors are either obvious or being being used as useful idiots, which is a very difficult you never want to be in the position of saying. I don't think this paper paper should have been written, because it's bad that we have this knowledge, it's just something that you kind of had had been more explicitly addressed. This paper is
did it, but I feel, like I had so many additional questions, that I almost want: research on the research, its Have you no one should be set him, and obviously these these authors are participants in a in a lawsuit were at Harvard does have its own special, Harvard Math, which, which shows this is not happening. I mean I've looked at I s. Obviously they have a lot of smart professors working at his universities and if there's one thing you know about, smart professors is taken thinking. They could come up with it
thing I would you say that, like I dont have this kind of science and my back but like it was obviously true it by experience being on campus, that the isn't students were better at school on average than the wide students like this is clearly what was happening when I would not have been able to do is like pick out how much of that is because of the geographical diversity. How much of that is because of legacies development cases? How much of that is because of a flood ex, because, like vetoed the effects of his we're right, they give you
This is not just for like the money sports cyclic bascombe on football, but for like being good. It rowing, which you no particular kinds of people, have the opportunity to become high quality, fencers at the age of fifteen or ski jumpers and other kinds of stuff. Like that, so you know I wouldn't be able to tell you like exactly what was going on, but like ie is very clear. Like this is the the policy, these schools and they had the same policy with jewish applicants at an earlier time in history, and I think it is one of these strangers things that you know. Every schools like official history is like. Oh, that was bad. We shouldn't have done that there, but their stated reasons for doing it are the same as their stated reasons now for leaning so heavily on these personal characteristics. They would say what we didn't want the school to be just full of these grinds right. When I was there was the slang term, but like it was the same thing was the guide
that like if the school was overwhelmingly composed of kids from Europe? handful of neighborhoods in New York City, where they had of really competitive culture and a lot of people with really good test scores that that would not be achieving the lofty goals of the EU Firstly, I think we may have lost DORA. Well, I think worried about you show so, hopefully doubts it. Let's go. There is well in in quarantine, I'm so, thanks to everybody, I fought for listening. You know what we're always glad to hear from you in the Facebook group and elsewhere, thanks to our producers to rebuild and that we will be back on track
Transcript generated on 2021-05-19.