Sunday, January 1, 2017

Assessing democracy in the aftermath of Trump's victory, Part XII: Voters' assessments of competence

In Part XI, we made what should have been the obvious point that Clinton had a competence advantage over Trump along that "valence" dimension.  But what did voters think?

Interestingly, voters mostly got this one right!  While voters mistakenly thought that Trump was more honest than Clinton, as discussed in Part X, consider the following poll results.

By big margins, in every poll, by every measure, voters said Trump wasn't qualified to be president, but Clinton was.

A few questions, then.  First, how do we assess the voters who thought Trump was qualified?  Yes, they were a minority, but they existed.  And they kind of mattered...

1)  Raw partisanship.  Most were just Republicans, committed to voting for whomever the party nominated, and thus compelled to say that the Republican must be qualified by the mystical power of rationalization.  Notice, for example, that a hell of a lot of people (not a majority, but a lot) thought that Clinton wasn't qualified.  Why?  They were Republicans, so the Democrat must not be qualified...

2)  The Rand-ian myth of the omni-competent CEO.  See Part VII.

3)  Simple gullibility.  Some idiots think professional wrestling is real.

And yet, voters did get the right answer, for the most part.  How?  They had a very simple cue.  Experience.  Or, lack thereof.  In congressional elections, inexperienced candidates almost never win.  This was one of the many reasons so many of us political scientists wrote Trump off as a joke.  Lack of experience signals to voters a lack of qualification and a lack of competence.  And here, it did!  Voters saw Trump's lack of experience as a lack of qualification.  They were right!

So, here's the puzzle.  Voters understood that Trump was un-fucking-qualified.  But they voted for him anyway!  If you do the math on those polls, more people voted for Trump than thought he was qualified to be president.  He got over 46% of the "popular vote" (a phrase that I hate to type-- quit whining about this nonexistent, bullshit number, you pathetic little moonbats).  Less than 40% thought he was qualified, in most surveys.  Um...

Now you should start to see why I'm calling 2016 a failure of democracy.

But, of course, the point of all of this valence stuff is that we need to see how competence fits in with honesty and policy in order to see what a rational electorate would do.  Then, we can start to evaluate what happened.  So, we aren't done yet!

No comments:

Post a Comment