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Hello. A high turnout was supposed to pave the way for a Democratic sweep. What happened?
Americans under 40 vote at relatively low rates. They also lean to the left politically. The same goes for Latinos and Asian Americans.
This combination helped fuel a widely held belief that an increase in voter turnout would benefit Democrats. People ranging from Bernie sanders to President Trump made this claim. Me too: “The real silent majority in the country prefers Democrats,” I wrote in 2017.
I now think that is at least partly wrong, and I want to explain it today.
First, a little background: Ten years ago journalist Dave Weigel – now a Washington Post reporter – introduced a concept he called expert liability. The idea was that journalists make a lot of analytical judgments and that sometimes we should review them to recognize what we have right and wrong. This is a sign of respect for the readers and may improve our work in the future.
Over the years, several journalists have picked up on Weigel’s idea, especially towards the end of the year. I do this with today’s newsletter.
I’ll start with the nicer side of the responsibility. Looking back, I feel good about articles explaining why Trump was unlikely to win re-election, why Democrats should hope Joe Biden would run for president, and why the United States would struggle to contain the coronavirus.
I don’t feel so good about largely canceling Biden after losing New Hampshire and Iowa and treating the 2020 polls with gullibility. The conducting wire: Politics is less predictable than we sometimes imagine. I’ll try to remember it better.
This idea also helps explain misconceptions about voter turnout. In 2020, the turnout skyrocketed, but Democrats did worse than expected. Yes, they have defeated Trump, but they have failed to retake the Senate (as of yet) and have lost ground in the House and state legislatures.
How could that be, as large demographic groups with low participation rates – Millennials, Latinos and Asian-American – lean to the left?
Because infrequent voters in these groups are less liberal than frequent voters. “Latino non-voters, for example, seem to have a better opinion of Trump than Latino voters,” Yanna Krupnikov, a political scientist at Stony Brook University, told me. Overall, non-voters are roughly evenly split between skinny Democrats and Republicans, according to a recent Knight Foundation study.
Once you think about it, the template makes sense. It involves social class.
People who don’t vote (or who didn’t vote before 2020) are more likely to be working class – that is, not having a college degree – than reliable voters, a concluded Knight. And working-class Americans are more conservative on several big issues, including abortion, guns and immigration. They also trust institutions and elites less.
The fact that the turnout increased this year and that the Democrats did not do as well as expected is another example of the party’s struggles with working class voters, and not just working class whites. The question of whether Democrats can figure out how to do better is perhaps the biggest question hanging over US politics.
Have you changed your mind about anything lately? Email us at email@example.com and put “change of mind” in the subject line.
THE LAST NEWS
Each December, The Times Magazine honors some of the remarkable people who have passed away during the year in an issue called The Lives They Lived. The last one came out this morning and includes:
Chadwick boseman, the actor who built his career playing the giants of American history.
Mimi Jones, a civil rights activist best known for her participation in swimming in St. Augustine in 1964.
Bill withers, a three-time Grammy Award winner whose songs have transformed the loves, struggles, regrets and joys of workers in art.
Tom seaver, the greatest New York Met of all time.
Cecilia Chiang, who escaped the war in China and shaped Chinese cuisine in the United States, with a little help from Henry Kissinger.
Support from subscribers makes Times journalism possible. If you haven’t already subscribed, consider becoming one today.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Building a podcasting empire
Over the past couple of years, Spotify has tried to become the go-to place for podcasts as well as music.
In May, the company struck a deal worth more than $ 100 million with popular podcaster Joe Rogan. Spotify has also signed exclusive deals with the Obamas, Kim Kardashian West and Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan. And he’s bought top-tier podcasting companies including Gimlet Media – the creator of “Crimetown” and “Reply All” – and The Ringer, which focuses on sports and pop culture.
Why is Spotify so invested in podcasts? He sees them as an opportunity to make more money from advertising than music alone allows. Podcasts allow advertisers “to have a more intimate relationship with the user,” a Spotify executive told CNBC, adding that advertisers also like the user data the company tracks.
Another draw for advertisers is deals with stars like Rogan, an analyst told The Times, “Spotify is not only buying Joe Rogan’s vast and future library of content, but its loyal following as well.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to cook
This creamy noodle dish will appeal to vegans and non-vegans alike.
What to listen to
Want to fall in love with Mozart, the opera or the piano? Five minutes of listening is enough, and this list is a great place to start.
Read this interview with actress Carey Mulligan, who delivered her career performance in “Promising Young Woman,” an upcoming dark comedy about consent and revenge.
Scooby Snacks, Everlasting Gobstoppers, Burple Nurples: Times art critic Maya Phillips wrote an ode to candy “dreamed of in the fictional worlds of television and film, summoned from the imagination like the multi-colored pies of Peter Pan.”
Now is the time to play
Yesterday’s Spelling Bee pangram was moon walk. Today’s puzzle is above – or you can play it online if you have a Games membership.
Here are today’s mini-crosswords and a hint: the elf in “Elf” (five letters).