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Republican Voters Sour on the “Free Market”

A new poll offers an important data point in the GOP’s ongoing transformation from the sunny and optimistic party of Reagan into a more populist and nationalistic coalition of the left behind. New York magazine reports:

In the wake of Trump’s deal to keep Carrier from relocating one of its Indiana-based plants to Mexico, YouGov decided to take the temperature of voters’ sentiments toward the free market. The pollster asked respondents if they they agreed with the statement, “The free market has been sorting [the economy] out and America’s been losing.”

Fifty-seven percent of Republicans — and 55 percent of self-identified conservatives — said yes. By contrast, only 33 percent of Democrats — and 31 percent of liberals — said the same.

To an extent, these eye-catching numbers can be accounted for by structural changes. The GOP’s white working class base has grown more socially fragmented and pessimistic; the impact from globalization and trade has been unevenly distributed; the Democratic coalition is more upwardly mobile and satisfied with the status quo.

But they also highlight the fact that the Great Man theory of history is still operative. Donald Trump has personally reforged millions of Republican voters’ views on crucial questions about the economy and the state, to the point that Rush Limbaugh is now singing the praises of Keynesianism. (The statement in the survey was made by Mike Pence to defend Donald Trump’s economic philosophy.) Trump won because he intuitively grasped the mood of GOP voters, but it’s clear that he also reshaped the base in his image (is there any doubt that this poll would look different had Ted Cruz eked out the nomination?), and in so doing profoundly changed the direction of American politics.

More broadly, the numbers show that stale, decades-old orthodoxies of Left and Right are being called into question as the post-Cold War global order shows signs of strain. On both sides, the ideological iron is hot. It’s more important than ever that people with vision and understanding step forward to help shape it.

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  • KremlinKryptonite

    Americans are tired of major players not reciprocating. Opening up one’s own market to basically tariff/duty free goods pouring in is not intelligent when dealing with an autocratic, unelected, protectionist regime – like the one in Beijing.

  • Anthony

    Lest we forget, jobs aren’t finite nor is the nature of work static. Jobs always and everywhere result from investment, and investors are always and everywhere looking for the most productive locales to put their capital to work’ – the capitalism of the capitalists’ engine. See:

  • Andrew Allison

    ” The GOP’s white working class base has grown more socially fragmented and pessimistic”. Actually, as evidenced by the recent election, the GOP’s white working-class base has grown, period.

    • Disappeared4x

      Yes, the “GOP’s white working class base has grown…” because so many Jim Webb Democrats voted for Trump2016!
      (found myself using ‘Jim Webb Democrat’ as a descriptor in order to talk with still loyal Democrats before the election)

      • f1b0nacc1

        Interesting description ‘Jim Webb Democrats’, but just how do they differ from the garden variety GOP WWC voter?

        My question is not intended to be snark, I ask because if there is something special about this election (in which case wouldn’t “Trump Democrat” make more sense?) then these voters aren’t likely to remain past Trump, but if this is an ongoing process (i.e. these voters are migrating to the GOP) then they really aren’t ‘anything-Democrats’, but more proto-Republicans.

        Just a thought…

        • Andrew Allison

          I think that there is something special about this election, namely that people coming to recognize that their interests are not being represented by their elected representatives (on either side). Sanders was only held off by a major effort on the part of the Dem establishment, the GOP establishment bitterly fought Trump. I think that whether the PO-ed Dems become Republicans depends on how Trump performs. So far, he seems to be doing OK, but he’s going to have to fight the establishments and a disgracefully politicized Administrative Branch. Heads will need to roll in the latter. The Boeing thing was brilliant.

        • Disappeared4x

          Jim Webb tried to champion his ‘tribe’: Scots-Irish patriotic WWC, who have suffered the most from the Democratic Party’s shift to being the party of climate change & ‘social justice’, away from jobs and the economy .
          I might be guilty of defining the GOP WWC as more inclined to put the ‘social issues’, e.g., abortion, same-sex marriage, first, the Rick SantorumGOP.

          >They needed a reason to vote FOR the GOP nominee.
          >>Webb Democrats needed a reason to vote, period.

          Mostly, because I tried, until May, to discuss DJT with other Jewish voters, it helped to say I was a Jim Webb Democrat, because, he was still a Democrat who had tried to compete for the nomination. Once I realized so many Jewish voters are unable to stop being Democrats, I stopped talking with them.

          The real confusion is that Trump’s takeover of the GOP has the three legs of the pre-Trump GOP, well, confused about what exactly the GOP now is.

          No Labels does have a point, about the need for no labels!

  • gabrielsyme

    It’s not that there are vast ideological changes at work – the vast majority of voters are not ideological, but partisans. These are voters who decide, for whatever reason, to favour one faction or another. Having done so, they generally adopt the line of their party. Here we have Republicans, who, responding to Trump’s rhetoric, are responding with what they perceive to be the “correct” Trumpian/Republican answer. Four years ago, when most of these voters cast their vote for Romney, they would have answered differently.

    • FriendlyGoat

      “These are voters who decide, for whatever reason, to favour one faction or another.”

      You are quite correct on your whole theory. There were a lot of “whatever” reasons, few of which, have solid relationships to advocacy for “free market” anything. From many red-state Republicans, there was support for the idea of deporting millions of people and building a wall. There were the people whose single issue has always been abortion. There are people whose single issue is 2A. There are people who thought Trump might somehow get a Court to reverse same-sex marriage. There are people who really thought Trump could exclude Muslims. There are people who somehow want Trump to slap down BLM. There are people who voted “anyone but Hillary”. There are people who don’t know that natural gas is the biggest future roadblock to Appalachian coal. There are people who thought they could get more health insurance for less money by repealing—-never mind replacing—-PPACA. There are people mad at Common Core and school testing. There are people who want regulations repealed in general without having a clue as to which ones. There are people who wish we could bomb away Islam. There are people who just like to watch and listen to Donald Trump and were fans of The Apprentice. It’s a long list.

      We need to realize, first of all, that the white evangelical church put Trump over the top on the list of “whatever” reasons far more certainly than “working-class” people we imagine (by the sound of that term) to be more focused on economics than on church. Those two definitions overlap some, of course, but when 26% of all voters self-describe as evangelical or born again and then 81% of those go for Trump and they are concentrated anyway in rural areas—–we need to stop imagining that some other group flipped this election.

      The one thing we know is that few of the church or working-class people voted for Steve Mnuchin or his style of corporatization that everyone is now going to get ——which will be the main thing passed ASAP “while the window is open” for it. The damage from this is going to be immense and long-lasting and there are no “people of vision” (per TAI) who can mitigate this particular unleashed steam roller in 2017.

    • f1b0nacc1

      While I think that there is much to what you say, how do we explain the shift of the ‘blue-wall’ states that have been backing the Dems (certainly Obama) for several election cycles? Lets remember that (despite the very small margins), Trump has won states that haven’t voted GOP since Reagan, so the ‘partisan vs ideological’ argument would seem to fail when looking at these voters. Granted, this is one election, and there are numerous special conditions here (HRC’s manifold flaws, for instance, though this is hardly the only thing), but I wonder about whether or not we are seeing something deeper, particularly given the move in off-year elections for congress and certainly at the state level.

      • Adam Bowers

        “, how do we explain the shift of the ‘blue-wall’ states that have been backing the Dems (certainly Obama) for several election cycles”

        In two words; Hillary Clinton. Any other Democrat would have steam-rolled Donald Trump. Lest we also forget, Hillary managed to wrack up 2.7 million more votes than Donald. In pretty much any other contest other than our Electoral College, that would be a resounding victory.

        • f1b0nacc1

          I would be delighted to blame it all on Hillary, but this doesn’t explain why the GOP has been rolling up those very same states in down-ballot races as well. In point of fact, the Electoral College tracks well against most of the down-ballot races at both the state and local level, and even against the federal level (House and Senate races). So as bad as Hillary was (and she was awful….almost any other Democrat would likely have been able to win against Trump), her gross incompetence as a candidate is not enough to explain this.

          As for the comment on popular vote, since this race wasn’t about popular votes, your counterfactual remains unproven. One could easily argue that without an Electoral College the GOP candidate (whoever they were) wouldn’t have spent time in low-vote density states, and concentrated more in vote rich areas where more votes could have been found, but were in states where there was little chance of carrying the state itself. Orange County in California, for instance, or much of New York state outside of Manhattan, or virtually anywhere in Illinois outside of Chicago. That Hillary spent more time running victory laps in CA, NY, and IL than addressing states like WI and MI (to say nothing of PA) shows her incompetence as a candidate, and the wisdom of the Founders in making all states matter in any election by the mechanism of the Electoral College.

  • Frank Natoli

    A few nights ago on FoxNews, Jennifer Griffin made the point that now, today, in the eighth year of Barack Hussein Obama, China charges a 25% tariff on imported cars, and the U.S. charges 2%.
    The author of this TAI article would have the reader believe that above is the “free market”, and that Americans have “soured” on it. Well, he’s right and he’s wrong. It’s NOT the free market, and Americans, including yours truly, HAVE soured on it.
    That’s why we elected Trump.

  • Boritz

    The respondents have as much exposure to sasquatch and the loch Ness monster and far more exposure to UFOs than they do to a free market.

  • Disappeared4x

    Perhaps poll respondents only heard “America’s been losing” because they do not know what “free market” means?

    “…On both sides, the ideological iron is hot. It’s more important than ever that people with vision and understanding step forward to help shape it.”

    This closing statement sounds like a call for a new cohort of pundits to give a refresh to more than one basket of hot irons.

    Before I mangle the English language with more clichés, consider the vision and understanding of Winston Churchill, on Russia:

    “The Russian Enigma” Broadcast 1st October 1939

    “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key.
    That key is Russian national interest. It cannot be in accordance with the interest of the safety of Russia that Germany should plant itself upon the shores of the Black Sea, or that it should overrun the Balkan States and subjugate the Slavonic peoples of south eastern Europe, That would be contrary to the historic life-interests of Russia.

    Thus, my friends, at some risk of being proved wrong by events, I will proclaim tonight my conviction that the second great fact of the
    first month of the war is that Hitler, and all that Hitler stands for, have been and are being warned off the east and the southeast of Europe.

    Here I am in the same post as I was 25 years ago. Rough times lie ahead; but how different is the scene from that of October, 1914! Then Russia had been laid low at Tannenberg; then the whole might of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was in the battle against us; then the brave, warlike Turks were about to join our enemies. Then we had to be ready night and day to fight a decisive sea battle with a formidable German fleet almost, in many respects, the equal of our own. We faced those adverse conditions then; we have nothing worse to face tonight. We may be sure that the world will roll forward into broader destinies.

    We may remember the words of old John Bright, after the American Civil War was over, when he said to an audience of English working
    folk: “At last after the smoke of the battlefield had cleared away, the horrid shape which had cast its shadow over the whole continent had vanished and was gone forever”. “

  • victoria wilson – mn

    President elect Trump is a real estate guy. Everyone presumes this means that his millions piled up as a result of cut throat capitalist moxie- the purest form of monetary collection in the US economic system. Ironically his liberal, socially oriented, detractors hate him for this exact image: the business man cloaked in a $5K cashmere suit striding confidently, arrogantly down NY streets. HA.
    Mr. Trump understands capitalism. He understands that transactions in capitalism have a social side as well a monetary side. None of his projects would have ever been built if this weren’t clear to him. Every parcel of property that he built on has neighbors; neighbors form cities; cities agree to services. In every project Mr. Trump undoubtedly participated to some degree in public production of services, to build the towers that then provide more services to the neighbors that share local boundaries. Whether he paid park fees, or built pedestrian walkways and or upgraded sewer lines- Mr. Trump knew the public would be part of his transaction.
    Mr. Trump undoubtedly stumbled on another well hidden secret: the social side of a capitalist transaction is a market player, just the same as her well accounted for monetary side. No- the social side is not the irrational, complex, indeterminate portion. In fact knowing this market secret gives you the ability- before even approaching a city council for approval, a pretty good idea of what it will take to get a public approval on a plan. Think of the time savings! The rewrites, and research and architectural work!
    So if Mr. Trump says the social side portion of reestablishing jobs back to the rust belt is a 35% tariff- whose to argue with him? Where are the academics, that despite access to billions in federal grants, have been studying this? Right- in that case- I say we go with the president elect.
    Gosh I’m enjoying this moment in American history. God bless America.

  • Nevis07

    Sorry, but I must wholeheartedly disagree without a more nuanced view of free markets and trade.

    First, my bachelors was in economics. It’s an art, not a science; to suggest otherwise shows conceit that reveals why others regard the education as a joke. Here’s the deal:

    1) on trade, Trump isn’t necessarily incorrect. Trade theory in general suggests that trade should all things being equal balance over time if it’s a good deal, yet we haven’t seen that in most trade deals that the US has entered into. The US-Canada (NAFTA) deal is one of almost perfections – Mexico, not so much. China – US is totally different through the WTO, which has no teeth so to speak. We have a 4-1 trade ratio with them. Something here is wrong and Trump is correct to point it out. It’s not just equal access to their markets for our corporations, it’s their mercantilist and technology trade transfer that is more troubling – for example, Boening had to move their engine manufacturing plant to China in order to be allowed to compete in government contracts for planes.

    2) on finance and economics, both mainstream Democrats and Republicans adhere to essentially the same dogma. Neither admit to the dysfunctional nature of the Federal Reserve and the current Federal-to-state top down economic philosophy. Partially, this is rightfully feared given the over the top national debt now encumbered upon the American people from birth-to-death. Having said that, there are basic ideas where Keynesianism and basic conservatism overlap such as basic infrastructure improvement.

    3) Regarding the Carrier deal and Trump, he has won an initial success and I have serious concerns regarding the continuation of this type of deal-by-deal process. Having said that, the issue here really is that the trade deals made are themselves not working. This is perhaps the most pertinent point… Trade theory is academic. It assumes that actors are blind; and yet we live in a very and increasingly dangerous world. Countries like China, for example, attempt to politicize (quietly) their acquisitions. Real Estate, even though privately done, mostly, is currently the biggest blip on the US radar.

    And yet, the Chinese will not allow us to invest in their country – nor do we allow them to invest mostly in our critical infrastructures. This is a huge gap in expectations and deliverable realities. This in fact, is where Trump has his most solid argument. Trade theory cannot function in a world where capital cannot quickly, equally, and fairly transfer back and forth. It’s not just trust, it’s society, tax environment, labor relations, and environmental regulations – all of this contributes to why the US and China actually have no really reason to trade in a long term environment. – When you add in the fact that the US is effectively enriching and fueling these countries’ rise whom oppose US hegemony, it’s not difficult to s see why Trump is effectively and correctly connecting with voters. If a legitimate US political leader were to arise to oppose and take control of these issues, Trump would have a contender on his hands, but until then, I see no potential issues for Trump. Republican conservatism itself will have to suffer for not recognizing that free trade agreements that don’t provide equally free trade for American exporters will ultimately hurt itself. It’s not capitalism’s fault, it’s the politicians, stupid!

    • Frank Natoli

      Great post, but please note, Boeing makes airframes not engines. Pratt & Whitney and General Electric do that.

      • Nevis07

        Thanks Frank. I’ve misremembered then. But essentially what it came down to was Boeing had to manufacture and provide technology transfer to China in order to be given permission from the CCP to compete with China’s state owned copy manufacturers (I think Comac is their Chinese competition).

        More broadly, my point is that free trade is an illusion. Unless every trading partner is engaged in the same set of laissez-faire capitalism and we ignore trust and security considerations to nations, it’s not just impossible, but also imprudent to assume free trade is always a healthy activity in which to engage in.

        • Frank Natoli

          IMHO, there is no more obvious pact with the Devil than U.S. manufacturers setting up plants in mainland China, given their utter contempt for intellectual property. So much for Washington looking out for our best interests…

  • Fat_Man

    So 70% of Democrats now back the free market. That is real progress.

    What has happened in the last month that has caused to pay more attention to poll results? It must be because they gained so much credibility from their forecasts of President Hillary’s election. /sarc.

  • QET

    It’s almost as if Republicans applied Bayes’ Theorem to their long-standing trust in free markets. Nah, couldn’t be that. Everyone knows the Right don’t rationally reason.

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