By ANAND GIRIDHARADAS MAY 23, 2016, New York Times
Image from article: Supporters of Donad Trump at a fund-raiser in Lawrenceville, New Jersey
It has been a cold spring for the forces militating against a Donald J. Trump
The closer the real estate mogul draws to the Republican Party
nomination, the fewer the remaining sources of solace. But one consistent
theme has been the notion that the primary and the general election are as
different as night and day.
“I could be wrong, but I’d be willing to make a pretty major bet that
Trump’s not going to win,” Mike Murphy, a veteran Republican political
strategist, said on MSNBC last week.
About 28 million people will vote in the Republican primaries, Mr.
Murphy said in dismissing the “winning hype” surrounding Mr. Trump,
compared with the 125 million expected to cast ballots in the general election.
“He’s entering a whole different world of voter demography,” he said.
It may be worth noting that Mr. Murphy has long had ties to the
Republican establishment, which has struggled to come to terms with Mr.
Trump’s ascendancy. His last “major bet” involved the failed candidacy of Jeb
Bush, the former Florida governor, and he ran the $100-million-plus “super
PAC” that supported his run.
A New York Times/CBS News poll released last week undercut Mr.
Murphy’s argument, showing a close match-up between Mr. Trump and Hillary
Clinton, the former senator and secretary of state, should she win the
Democratic Party nomination.
Over all, Mrs. Clinton leads Mr. Trump 47 percent to 41 percent,
according to the Times poll.
But far more telling is how each candidate forms a coalition. Mrs. Clinton
wins majorities of groups that have seen their freedoms and share of the
nation’s resources grow in recent decades — women, African-Americans,
Mr. Trump wins majorities of groups that have experienced a relative
decline — whites and men.
The anxiety of white men may not be a viable long-term fuel source for the
political right, but, in the polls’ telling, it may be good enough for right now.
The polls offer a way of framing the election: as a referendum on how
white men see their place in a changing country; and, one layer beneath, on
whether they perceive themselves as being joined by women and minorities or
rather as being replaced by them.
In those parts of the country where change has advanced the furthest,
people speak often about “diversity” and “multiculturalism” and “inclusion,”
and they think of themselves as speaking about a great joining: the formerly
marginal coming up onstage with those who were once dominant.
Yet there is some evidence that a sizable number of white men see the
push toward diversity, along with the larger changes it telegraphs, as less
about joining and more about replacement, and a country that is less
hospitable to them.
That sentiment is perhaps expressed in a quote widely circulated online in
these discussions, though the origin is unknown: “When you’re accustomed to
privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
For instance, half of American men, a plurality in this case, believed that
society had grown “too soft and feminine,” the Public Religion Research
Institute found. More than two-thirds of Trump supporters felt this way,
according to the poll.
Similarly, 64 percent of Trump supporters reported feeling “bothered
when dealing with immigrants who speak little or no English” — even as 64
percent of Americans over all said they felt the opposite.
And when it comes to the focus of their government, a majority of Trump
supporters believed that the needs of African-Americans and other minorities
commandeered too much attention — even as 63 percent of Americans over all
Together, such numbers point to a feeling among many white men of
being shoved aside: A sense that society is growing more feminine, increasing
numbers of people speak a different language, immigrants are pouring in
unchecked, and the government is more concerned about other demographic
Arguments of this kind have floated around on white-supremacist
websites for years, but watered-down versions of that sentiment are now
swirling in the mainstream of American politics.
Which vision will most animate the white men who are at the center of
this election: the feeling of being joined or of being replaced?