What can we learn from the 1988 election?

Most people who follow politics understand that the South “flipped” from the Dems to the GOP during the decades after the 1964 Civil Rights bill was signed.  You can see that the realignment was pretty far along by 1988, when Dukakis only won 10 states, almost all in the North (plus one border state and Hawaii):

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-1-32-01-pmI’m not sure if people are as aware that these sorts of changes keep occurring, even in this election.  Thus California and West Virginia flipped more recently (in opposite directions.)  Vermont voted for Bush in 1988!

Iowa may be the most recent flip.  Not only did Dukakis win Iowa in 1988, he won by double digits, even more than in his home state of Massachusetts.  I think it’s fair to say that Clinton won’t do better in Iowa than in Massachusetts!

Indeed as recently as 2012, Obama won Iowa by 6%, that’s more than his 4% margin in the overall election.  But even as Hillary leads this election by 6% or 7%, polls have her trailing in Iowa.  To be fair, the betting markets have the state a tossup, and the polls are a bit out of date.  But even a tossup is a significant change from 2012.  That result would be 7% more GOP than average, vs. 2% more Democrat than average in 2012.  A 9% swing to the red.

Note that Iowa is not a rust belt state.  Its unemployment rate peaked at only 6.6% during the Great Recession, and is now down to 3.8%. Minnesota is expected to go Democratic this time, but by less than usual.

Since Trump does especially well among older voters, there must be large numbers of Iowa Trump supporters who pulled the lever for Dukakis in 1988.  I’d be interested in someone doing a good sociological study of these voters.  Talk to them, and ask them how they migrated from supporting a cerebral limousine liberal in 1988 to a dumb right-wing populist nationalist today.  (OK, don’t say “dumb” to them.) Those positions are about as far apart as you can get.  There aren’t that many immigrants in Iowa, and foreign trade benefits Iowa.  What’s the key issue? Is it a cultural realignment?  The big cities versus small towns?  (Immigrants are 4.9% of Iowa’s population, vs. 13.3% nationally.)

These realignments will keep happening.  I mentioned how the South flipped to the GOP, but Virginia has already flipped back, and North Carolina is starting to move back.  Even Texas is gradually getting bluer.  If we are moving to a big cities vs. small towns split then Texas will continue to trend blue, but will Maine then move red?  Trump is doing better in Maine than expected.

These trends tell me that if the GOP is to rebuild, it will probably be in the Midwest. Iowa and Ohio are two of the states that are clearly trending red, but the close polls in Minnesota tells me that the entire region is edging that way. If Hillary is doing poorly (as I expect) a mainstream Republican might be able to win the Midwest in 2020.  I also expect to eventually see a realignment of racial groups, but I’m not sure when and how.

All we know for sure is that the map 50 years from now will look very different from today—shockingly different.  But how?

PS.  This same phenomenon is happening in Europe, often in similar ways (big cities and educated people trending left, and small towns and rust belts trending right.)

PPS.  Texas and Florida now have 38 and 29 electoral votes, while Pennsylvania’s dropped down to 20 and Ohio to 18.  Iowa dropped from 8 to 6.

PPPS.  I have a new post on the EMH (it’s even better than I thought) over at Econlog.



55 Responses to “What can we learn from the 1988 election?”

  1. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    21. October 2016 at 10:54

    The Midwest does seem to be getting redder, but it’s not only Texas out west getting bluer. NM and CO are now pretty much solid blue, and AZ appears to be getting a little bluer.

    And yes increasing urbanization is probably the driver, along with ethnic shifts in the electorate.

  2. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. October 2016 at 11:03

    The big issue in Iowa is probably King Maize. Trump supported ethanol subsidies. Romney also did, but Obama gave even stronger guarantees. Of the candidates that ran this year, only Cruz and Paul opposed ethanol subsidies.


    Part of it is also that Mitt Romney was an elitist, while Donald Trump is a populist. There are a a lot of non-college Whites in Iowa who despised elitists.

    The polls of New Hampshire, meanwhile, look outright weird. It has the same demographics as Iowa, unlike in Iowa, Trump actually won more primary votes than Clinton there, and yet, the polls show Clinton leading Trump in New Hampshire by a lot. I think this is unprecedented.

    “I’m not sure if people are as aware that these sorts of changes keep occurring, even in this election.”

    -They would have been very, very different had Ted Cruz or Marco Rubot won the nomination.

    “but Virginia has already flipped back”

    -Thanks to Black people and DC elitists. Outside of those groups, VA is as red as ever.

    “These trends tell me that if the GOP is to rebuild, it will probably be in the Midwest.”

    -Right back where it started in the 1940s.

  3. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. October 2016 at 11:10

    As I’ve said, if California had the demographics of Iowa, it would have something like the politics of Iowa.

  4. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    21. October 2016 at 11:15

    @Harding: or perhaps as you just pointed out above, it would have the politics of New Hampshire

  5. Gravatar of David Pinto David Pinto
    21. October 2016 at 11:17

    Small typo, you have 2002 where you mean 2020.

  6. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. October 2016 at 11:24


    -The only reason Scott Brown didn’t win was because he didn’t campaign hard enough.

    Yes, Republicans in New Hampshire are notoriously less socially conservative than Republicans in Iowa. And Democrats in New Hampshire are notoriously more far-left leaning than those in Iowa. But the R v. D split between those states is pretty much the same. Both states went 44% for McSame, 46% for Rmoney.

  7. Gravatar of Plucky Plucky
    21. October 2016 at 11:37

    Michael Barone, who regardless of your view of his punditry/opinion writing probably has the most granular level of detailed political knowledge of anyone alive, thinks that internal net migration and demographic change explain the majority or partisan shifts at the state level, rather than individual people changing their political loyalties over the course of their life. One can definitely find exceptions to this trend, but on the whole there’s a lot of merit to it.

    To take your example of Iowa. The median age of Iowa is 38 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/208048/median-age-of-population-in-the-usa-by-state/), so a median age person in Iowa today was first eligible to vote for President in 1996. Voting skews older, but that was true 30 years ago as well. I’d bet the portion of the Iowa electorate in 2016 that also cast a vote in Iowa in 1988 is at most a third and probably closer to a fifth. You’re comparing two, mostly different groups of people. Granted, there is probably a lot of continuity in terms of family, culture, and economic interests between those two groups of people, but the bottom line is that people who voted for both Dukakis and Trump are probably pretty rare birds.

  8. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    21. October 2016 at 11:56


    So which is it then? If CA had the demographics of IA and NH (which you claim are the same), would it have the politics of IA or NH? I’m trying to parse your post at 11:10

  9. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    21. October 2016 at 12:06

    msgkings, I agree.

    Harding, NH is highly educated.

    David, Thanks, I fixed it.

    Plucky, I strongly disagree. We know that Trump’s support is much stronger among older voters than among younger voters. Those older Iowa voters supporting Trump are exactly the same voters who voted for Dukakis in 1988 (when they were middle aged.). Far from being a rare bird, that pattern must be extremely common. There’s not enough migration to change Iowa all that much since 1988, much less since 2012.

  10. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. October 2016 at 12:20

    “would it have the politics of IA or NH?”

    -If I was forced to pick, I’d have to pick New Hampshire, as Kasich overperformed in both states. I said “something like” the politics of Iowa, and the politics of New Hampshire are definitely “something like” the politics of Iowa.

    “Harding, NH is highly educated.”

    -So how come Trump won all but 15 townships (out of 221) in its primary? He won more votes there than Romney 2012. Kasich, the second-place finisher, won fewer votes there than Ron Paul 2012.

    BTW, though Trump got a fairly distant 3rd place among the youth in Iowa, he got a clearer-than-average 1st place among the youth in New Hampshire.

  11. Gravatar of BulbousAlsoTapered BulbousAlsoTapered
    21. October 2016 at 12:22

    “Since Trump does especially well among older voters, there must be large numbers of Iowa Trump supporters who pulled the lever for Dukakis in 1988.”

    This doesn’t necessarily follow. I think a decent amount of variation comes from who stays home. A lot of old Trump supporters may not have voted at all in 88 and a lot of Dukakis voters might not vote this year.

  12. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    21. October 2016 at 12:47

    What was the reason for this state-by-state voting system again? Maybe the Presidential elections should be reformed. Only the popular vote should be relevant. One man, one vote. “One man, one vote” implies that the impact of every vote is supposed to be equal. Well in the current voting system it’s not equal at all.

    The second huge flaw of the US elections is that people like Gary Johnson pursue the wrong strategy. Their approach is “top down” only, they should try “bottom up” and grassroots as well. This means for example that they should have candidates for Congress as well. The more the better. In other countries you can observe that this strategy can be very successful, even in a majority voting system. Imagine they win a few seats in Congress or a few presidential electors. Libertarians could actually deadlock Congress and/or the Electoral College and therefore gain actual power and influence.

  13. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    21. October 2016 at 12:57

    @CL: The reason for the electoral system was that many of the original 13 colonies that were to become states wanted outsized influence on elections, but because they were more sparsely populated they would not agree to simple popular vote, and would not have joined the union. Same reason they got to count their slaves as 3/5 of a vote, and same reason every state gets 2 senators no matter how small in size or population.

    Our Constitution is the oldest in the world, and probably could use some updating, but there’s no way to get that done either.

  14. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    21. October 2016 at 13:20

    Harding, Primaries are a skewed sample.

    Bulbous, I don’t agree. The vast majority who voted as middle aged Iowans, keep voting when they are old.

    Christian, I agree on the majority vote idea, I don’t like the electoral college.

    I prefer a parliamentary system where people would have more incentive to vote for third parties like the Libertarians.

  15. Gravatar of Don Don
    21. October 2016 at 14:03

    I don’t understand two things.
    1) why is Trump called a “nationalist”? His stance on trade and border enforcement matches Sanders and Rubio and nobody calls them nationalists. Or is ad hominem only?
    2) why would a Libertarian support Clinton who wants to permanently ratchet up a nationalized regulatory state? I do think the other three candidates would be at worst benign with respect to Libertarian principles.

    In an election not based on policies or principles, but based on personalities, you can through out comparisons with past elections. If you want to analyze demographics, look at off year Congressional elections.

  16. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. October 2016 at 14:30

    “Harding, Primaries are a skewed sample.”

    -[citation needed]. I do not believe New Hampshire’s primary voters magically transformed in four years. In any case, the highly educated are more likely to vote in primaries than the less educated [citation not needed].

    “His stance on trade and border enforcement matches Sanders and Rubio”

    -Nope, but they do match Romney. But in 2012, Romney won as the establishment candidate from the GOP’s left wing. Rubio tried to do this, but he was too right-wing for New Hampshire and his appeal in Iowa was far less broad than Mitt’s, due to The Donald taking up a lot of “I’m voting for candidate X because he’s rich and knows how to run the economy” vote.

    “I do think the other three candidates would be at worst benign with respect to Libertarian principles.”

    -None of them would be benign. Johnson and Trump are very imperfect, but they are the most benign with respect to libertarian principles. Of course, I strongly suggest voting for Donald Trump, the candidate less likely to get the U.S. into nuclear war than Clinton.

    “I prefer a parliamentary system where people would have more incentive to vote for third parties like the Libertarians.”

    -Good call. I do like the idea of every vote counting, not just those for the first-place finishers.

  17. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    21. October 2016 at 14:35

    BTW, good article:

    “In reality, The Economist is one of the most appallingly wrong and evil – as in responsible-for-millions-of-dead-people evil – organs in the world today.”

    -Fact-check: true. Same for the WaPo.


  18. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    21. October 2016 at 18:49

    O/T: Physicist Lawrence Krauss on Trump and Ben Carson. I agree: the two worst candidates: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb4s_8w8iEM

  19. Gravatar of Bill Ellis Bill Ellis
    21. October 2016 at 19:10

    Scott….Here is the map that explains your observations of a shifting electorate and indicates where the Repubs might be able to rebuild…

    but the base of the midwest and truncated south is not enough…where can they expand outside this stronghold of states ? Oregon, Colorado and NH, VT Main look like the obvious targets….but….

    something in the Repub rhetoric must change…
    figure out what and….I hate to think of it…

    Your welcome…

    United States – White alone, not Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2013 by State

  20. Gravatar of Student Student
    21. October 2016 at 19:26

    This is really that hard to understand. I think you are right about the Midwest. Similarly TX, NC, VA, and FL arnt that hard to understand. Places that are multicultural and live around the “others” notice they aren’t that bad. They are more open to differences. As a result they become more liberal (which really is openness to differences). This is all about places where mixtures of people and ideas exist.

    The Midwest which once was multicultural is becoming homogenous while other places are becoming heterogeneous. Cities vs rural reflect the same trend.

    Innovation follows the same trend. Mixtures of new people and new ideas equal new things. It’s always been this way. The places are just different.

    This really isn’t that hard to understand IMO.

  21. Gravatar of Student Student
    21. October 2016 at 19:28

    *This isn’t really that hard to understand.

  22. Gravatar of Student Student
    21. October 2016 at 19:32

    It’s not at all surprising the places becoming more “liberal” are where the innovation occurs. Diversity and openness is where new things happen… Duh… Because they are open to new things and people.

    Politics reflects this. If you live in a place scared of new people, you live in a place scared of new things. See ya innovation… When hasn’t this been the case in the history of the world?

  23. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    21. October 2016 at 20:10

    Scott, You do really fascinating posts when you are in philosopher mode.

    I think the factors affecting IA, CA, NH, MN, etc., have already been enumerated, but deserve more explanation:
    1- educated/uneducated
    2- urban/rural
    3- non-white/white

    First, a general observation is that in almost every policy area, the Democrats are gradually becoming the party of urban elites.

    I’ll start with the educated/uneducated split. It’s tempting to say “smart” people vote D (hence dumb vote R), but there’s a bit of self-interest too. Think about it: if the government subsidizes college degrees *even more*, who wins? People who consume, or produce, degrees of questionable utility. An “uneducated” blue collar worker/tradesperson will be asked to chip in tax dollars for education, to help someone whose lifetime pay scale will be considerably higher than their own. Someone who makes “rational” educational decisions, e.g., trade school, instead of a PhD in Lit, will have to pay up.

    Second, an increasing number of “educated” jobs are directly or indirectly provided by government: health, education, regulation, lawyers and bankers navigating regulation, research labs, technocrats, lobbyists, etc.

    As for urban/rural, a similar economic split is at play. Policy to subsidize mortgages, public transit infrastructure, or housing development, benefit cities trying to pack more people in. This is all a mystery to people in rural areas, where all you need is a $40k trailer and an empty field, to live somewhat comfortably. Right to work is more important than housing/infrastructure/min wage Democrat policy.

    Finally, the racial issue is big this year, although it might recede post-Trump. This is the most controversial issue, as many whites feel besieged by PC culture (as do Christians). Ds try to frame everything as racism. There are certainly examples on both sides that confirm the stereotypes, but I think racial tension has really been stoked by both parties for opportunistic reasons.

  24. Gravatar of Student Student
    21. October 2016 at 20:19


    Disagree that Christians feel besieged by PC culture. Maybe some do and I guess it depends on what you mean by PC culture… but I question if a christian that doesn’t practice do onto others as you would want done onto you is a real christian given it’s the golden rule.

  25. Gravatar of Student Student
    21. October 2016 at 20:21

    *i question whether… )iPhone is killing me tonight).

  26. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    21. October 2016 at 20:25

    As for the divergence between IA and NH, despite similar racial demographics, I think it is because of education, and sub-urbanization in NH.

    People don’t realize that, despite lack of large cities, NH is slowly getting absorbed into the giant I-95 slurb economically. There are lots of jobs in education, prep schools, health insurance, investments, etc., so the NH electorate increasingly resembles, say, suburban Philly.

    Second, since I live here, I can confirm there is an absolutely rabid support base for Trump. It’s all the people you might expect: tradespersons, landscapers, restaurants & hospitality, snowplow drivers, etc. They support Trump for all three of the splits in my previous post. Based on my interactions, most of them are fine decent people, but they don’t interactive with the university set on a daily basis. They also lack critical mass in NH, maybe 35-40% of the electorate.

    I can’t speak with the same conviction for Iowa, but I suspect they lack the left-leaning careers in health, education, and investments, but have the additional factor of small-town Christian communities feeling besieged by PC.

  27. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    21. October 2016 at 20:30

    Student, you prove my point by parodying yourself.

    Lots of people this cycle are running around accusing Christians of not being true Christians, simply because they don’t believe what the Left wants them to believe. Is that not an assault on their sensibilities?

  28. Gravatar of Student Student
    21. October 2016 at 20:37

    i don’t see how doing onto others what you would want them to do onto you is a left right position. Simply… It’s the golden rule. Doesn’t mean it justifies whatever you do is ok… Doesn’t mean it justifies saying rude stuff. Just saying a true christian is humble and meek and focuses on themselves first.

    The Christian Right is littered with hypocrites. The left is generally self indulgent. The Christian Left is basically non-existent in America, save maybe be and 3 other people.

  29. Gravatar of Student Student
    21. October 2016 at 20:38

    *maybe me and 3 other people.

  30. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    21. October 2016 at 20:45

    “The Christian Right is littered with hypocrites”

    No more than any other group.

    Lots of Christians have repudiated Trumpism, but many have not because they recognize the evil of Hillary and the wickedness of the Left, and feel forced to choose.

  31. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    21. October 2016 at 20:50

    Scott, your futuristic projections are intriguing.

    In a lot of ways, rural blacks and rural whites belong in the same party, but that is hard to imagine given then incredible historical mistrust.

    It’s possible that rural whites and blacks join together under a Bernie banner (hence alleviating the historic issues with Rs), while the Ds become an elitist center/center-right party and the Rs die.

    It’s also possible that Asians become country-club Republicans who also object to PC/Cultural Revolution rhetoric. This happens once Trumpism dies.

    I’m guessing Scott will go with door #2 😉

  32. Gravatar of Student Student
    21. October 2016 at 20:51

    Nothing about trump is christian though… save his sudden change of heart on abortion (which i dont believe for a second). A thrice divorced serial adulterer that doesn’t believe one needs forgivness nor advocates for the downtrodden and thinks only a wealthy person can be great… Please excuse me while I vomit.

    The dude is about as christian as the turd I just flushed down the toilet.

    I suppose that isn’t as generous as I ought to be but facts must be noted.

  33. Gravatar of Student Student
    21. October 2016 at 20:55

    Don’t get me started on his reference to the Eucharist as a cracker… But that isn’t going to help me with rationalists because that will never be rational.

  34. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    21. October 2016 at 21:27

    I think Scott is on the ball here: the states most likely to realign Republican (after Iowa and Ohio) are Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan.

    All of these states have dirt cheap land, and midwestern sensibility. They don’t benefit from frivolous educational subsidy, nor weird housing and infrastructure policy, nor high minimum wages, nor solar power mandates…

    Ironically I made a similar argument back in March when I supported Cruz on these pages: I said Cruz would be toxic in Virginia and New Hampshire (which are being integrated into the I-95 economy and culture), but the anti-Washington Cartel message could play quite well from Appalachia to the Sierra Nevada.

  35. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    21. October 2016 at 23:33

    In reality, you cannot learn much from the 1988 presidential election, as Dukakis was routed. Another worthless speculative Sumner article.

  36. Gravatar of Chuck Biscuits Chuck Biscuits
    22. October 2016 at 04:45


    Don’t forget foreign policy, on which Hilary is clearly worse. A vote for Hilary is a vote for war, and war with Russia in particular. I hope Americans realize Russia isn’t a bunch of goat herders like they’re used to fighting, Russia can actually fight back. But I guess when you’re you’re a NATO-loving “libertarian” like Sumner you don’t consider these things.

  37. Gravatar of Negation of Ideology Negation of Ideology
    22. October 2016 at 05:55

    Scott –

    “I prefer a parliamentary system where people would have more incentive to vote for third parties like the Libertarians.”

    I think as long as the US Keeps a first past the post voting system it will have two major parties.


    I actually see that as a good thing – I think two major party systems are more stable and less likely to elect extremists or inexperienced clowns. Because if one major party nominates a buffoon or extremist, they can’t win in a two-way race, but they can win in a multi-candidate race. This year’s election is a perfect example of that. (Obviously, I’m assuming Trump will lose in a landslide.)

  38. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. October 2016 at 06:48

    Don, Wrong, his stance does not match Rubio.

    Harding, I can see that statistics is not your strong suit. Performance in a primary tells us very little about general elections. Getting 40% in a small primary tells us little about whether you can get 50% in a general election.

    Bill, If they can go back to winning Florida and North Carolina (which seems doable with a good candidate), then that would be enough. Don’t you think Bush or Rubio or Kasich could have beaten Hillary in Florida?

    I mean the GOP controls Congress and most of the state houses, they aren’t THAT unpopular.

    Student, You asked:

    “When hasn’t this been the case in the history of the world?”

    Um, when I was young. If it’s so easy, then why haven’t people been able to predict it? Why wasn’t West Virginia conservative back in 1988?

    Steve, Your self-interest argument doesn’t work, as the urban elites are hurt far more by high income taxes, than they are helped by subsidized college.

    Student, I do agree with you on Trump. I think there is a case to be made that Trump is the least Christian candidate in all of American history. If Jesus came back today, which American would most appall him? I say Trump.

    Chuck, War with Russia is far more likely with Trump, because wars are caused by ambiguity, and no one knows if Trump would defend eastern Europe.

    Negation, Under our system there is no effective party that represents me and millions of others like me. In Europe there would be. You may not see that as a problem, but is it any surprise that I do?

  39. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    22. October 2016 at 08:27

    “Wars are caused by ambiguity.”
    That needs a lot of qualifying. I would say wars are caused when one side thinks it can win and that the benefits of trying outweigh the costs. Ambiguity only matters when the other side is actually more capable than it appears to be and has done a poor job of making that clear.

  40. Gravatar of Kgaard Kgaard
    22. October 2016 at 08:45

    People vote tribally. Nearly all the changes you describe can be attributed to immigration of third-world peoples and the collapse in marriage. Single women vote left, married women vote center. Virginia has swung back left because northern VA has become a primary, uh, point of deposit for immigrants. Also Arlington Va is awash with single women.

  41. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    22. October 2016 at 09:49

    “War with Russia is far more likely with Trump, because wars are caused by ambiguity, and no one knows if Trump would defend eastern Europe.”

    -Sumner, stop being such an idiot. This is a stupid argument. I know it, you know it, and Carl and the rest know it. How is not going to war magically war? And why would Russia ever want something they gave up permanently in 2004? You do realize Her rhetoric on Russia sounds a lot like that of a certain German leader from the 1940s, right? Trump’s doesn’t.

    Admit it: you know next to nothing about Russia.

    “Performance in a primary tells us very little about general elections.”

    -But it does tell us something. Unless some version of the median voter theorem applies, and the candidate chosen by each party in the primaries is actually further from being the most electable one the party can come up with than the (distant) second-place finisher, the New Hampshire and Iowa polls make no sense.

    “Don’t you think Bush or Rubio or Kasich could have beaten Hillary in Florida?”

    -Absolutely. So could Trump have. He won nearly as many primary votes there as Clinton.

    “I think there is a case to be made that Trump is the least Christian candidate in all of American history.”

    -Thomas Jefferson, man. Though Trump does come close, and that’s awesome.

  42. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    22. October 2016 at 11:07

    BTW, the candidate in 1980 whose vote is best correlated with that of today’s Democratic vote (and John Adams’ vote in 1796) was John Anderson. Which third-party candidate will have his or her vote be best correlated with that of the Democratic vote in thirty years? Republican vote?

  43. Gravatar of engineer engineer
    22. October 2016 at 12:07

    I’m not convinced that Trump is more likely to get the US in a war vs. Hillary. I wish they would have followed up in the last debate to explore the concept of Hillary’s no fly zone, like in the republican primary:

    WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Governor Christie, if the U.S. imposed a no-fly zone over Syria and a Russian plane encroached, invaded that no-fly zone, would you be prepared to shoot down that Russian plane and risk war with Russia?

    CHRISTIE: Not only would I be prepared to do it, I would do it. A no- fly zone means a no-fly zone, Wolf. That’s what it means.

    PAUL: Well, I think if you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate.

    Probably the one issue, I side with Trump with over Hillary is this. Who is fighting Assad…Sunni Terrorists…are they better than Assad…no. That is the conclusion that Obama and the pentagon/CIA came to several years ago. If Mossad and the Saudis wants to funnel aid to them..fine… Support our friends, the Kurds, but keep the US out of fighting with Assad/Russian forces. There are much bigger issues in the world than Aleppo…the correct response to “what do we do about Aleppo is “nothing” just like our response was to the dozen or so civil wars and genocides that were going on around the world when Bill was president. I don’t think we can get militarily involved every place in the world where civilians are caught in the crossfire..I mean how much can our 1% take…and by 1% I am referring to the percentage of Americans who are fighting the endless wars. Hillary is a full fledged neocon…American exceptional policeman of the world..

  44. Gravatar of Student Student
    22. October 2016 at 13:18

    I am not so sure that this was hard to predict. I’ll give that the parties flipping places was hard to predict. Who would have guessed the socially liberal Republican Party of Lincoln would trade places with the socially regressive Democratic Party of reconstruction… The populations realliging after this wasn’t really.

    I’ll give you that the fact it took so long in Iowa and WV is interesting and harder to explain. I think it likely had lot to do with the strong presence of unions in those places. The people in WV for for example litterally fought a war (battle of Blair mountain is an example) to unionize and so became dedicated to the party that brought them victory. That kind of thing prolly led to their persistence allegiance to that party even after it left them behind.

    Point taken though…

  45. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    22. October 2016 at 13:21

    War with Russia? The USA today would win, it’s like the NE Patriots vs a high school football team. The USA has the best conventional military in the world. If the Russians are foolish enough to escalate to nuclear war over Georgia, then they will be obliterated as easily as North Korea would be. The Russians are not stupid, they would, as in Cuba, back down to avoid nuclear war. Having said that, a war between the USA and Russian in 1945, like Gen. Patton wanted, would have been a much tougher fight for the USA, as the Russian army was superior (more willing to die in combat). But today, no. You guys should read more history. You would also know how monetarism fails to increase GDP short term or long. Name one success of monetarism? Name one and I go away. Go on.

  46. Gravatar of Bill Ellis Bill Ellis
    22. October 2016 at 14:30

    Scott says…. “I prefer a parliamentary system where people would have more incentive to vote for third parties like the Libertarians.”

    i would prefer a parliamentary system too…..but we really don’t need to switch to a parliamentary system to trash our two party stranglehold… If no party has a majority in the house or senate they have to form a majority coalition befor one party can take leadership… It would work a lot like a parliamentary system,but with a popularly elected president, instead of the majority party’s leader becoming PM… ( but we could still suffer divided government in a way that Parliamentary systems don’t have to deal with 🙁 )

    It’s not really the parliamentary vs federal/presidential system that excludes third parties… It’s our election laws and traditions…

    Ironically, one of the things that would most help the libertarians get on a more equal footing with the big parties is….public Campaign financing…

    generally in systems that have Public Campaign financing the money is distributed…in tiers … based on past vote counts..

    For example, the top two voter getters would get the entire amount available…and the next two would get 50%…and so on…

    in systems like this the “wasted vote argument” evaporates..

    as long as the elite are financing our elections… they will reflect the needs of the elite…

    so pick your elite and vote… It’s not that bad, and it’s not much different that it ever was..

    To paraphrase Lincoln…

    “You can corrupt all the elite some of the time, and some of the elite all the time, but you cannot corrupt all the elite all the time.”

  47. Gravatar of B Cole B Cole
    22. October 2016 at 15:43

    There aren’t that many immigrants in Iowa, and foreign trade benefits Iowa. —-Sumner

    Perhaps Iowa has become populated by Americans who are economic refugees from chronic trade deficits and open borders,yet extensive property zoning.

    As Scott Sumner has pointed out, wealthy foreigners are buying American housing, while immigrants increase demand for rental housing.

    Yet the supply of housing is restricted in many parts of the country.

    Oh gee, the middle-class does not think this is a good situation?

  48. Gravatar of Negation of Ideology Negation of Ideology
    22. October 2016 at 18:08

    Scott –

    “Negation, Under our system there is no effective party that represents me and millions of others like me. In Europe there would be. You may not see that as a problem, but is it any surprise that I do?”

    It’s not a surprise to me – your post is perfectly reasonable, and a lot of informed people agree with you. However, my experience is I’ve never met anyone who I agree with on everything. Therefore I assume I’ll have to choose among candidates that I disagree with whether there are 2, 3 or 100 parties. So no party is going to represent me in any case.

    And you’d see the same with the millions of people like you that you mention. They likely agree with you on some things and disagree with you on others. For example, people who call themselves libertarians (who themselves are a small percentage of the population) disagree on tons of things. Many I’ve talked to are for the gold standard. Others are Milton Friedman fans. Some are isolationists, others are fans of NATO.

    Generally you see large major parties that are coalitions of many factions. Alternatively, you could have each party break down into smaller and smaller factions until everyone is a party of 1. Large parties have the advantage of building large coalitions that have already compromised with each other, making it easier to govern effectively. Smaller parties make the odds of having a party that agrees with you(or me) on more issues, but governing and consensus building is harder, so they are less effective.

    Another point is that when you have many parties, often (not always) they group into 2 coalitions anyway, so it’s effectively a 2 party system anyway.

  49. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. October 2016 at 16:19

    Students, Are unions strong in Iowa?

    Negation, Yes, one must always compromise, but it would be nice to at least have one party that was in the ballpark. For me, the Libertarians come close, whereas the Dems and GOP are awful.

  50. Gravatar of Student Student
    24. October 2016 at 05:34

    No, though I think it had a larger role in the labor movement than many people acknowledge. Also, Iowa and the Midwest in general was very immigrant rich or multicultural. Granted they were “white” immigrants. It wasn’t until those populations lost their immigrant connection to their French (way back), German, and Irish roots that they became more nationalist (for lack of a more precise word for this).

    One can see this reflected still by the relatively larger populations of Catholics even today (this applies to the whole Midwesr really).

    You know, probably the most interesting case is Indiana. Why is it that indiana is further along in the flip than the rest of the region?

  51. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    24. October 2016 at 08:52

    Student, I’ve heard that Indiana is more “southern” but am not certain.

  52. Gravatar of uncle joe uncle joe
    24. October 2016 at 11:25

    The left used to be about helping average people. Naturally this appealed to rural voters.

    Now it’s mostly about virtue signalling. Hence their constituency has shifted largely to rich people.

  53. Gravatar of Cooper Cooper
    24. October 2016 at 11:49

    Indiana and south western Ohio were settled from the South. They crossed over the Ohio river from Kentucky and points south.

    Natives of four southern states comprised 39.2 percent of Indiana’s non-foreign-born, non-native-Hoosier population in 1850: Kentucky (17.3 percent of the migrants), Virginia (10.6), North Carolina (8.1), and Tennessee (3.2).


  54. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    24. October 2016 at 14:06

    Quite: welcome to the dynamism of two-Party politics! Which is part shifting demographics and part shifting group allegiances.

  55. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. October 2016 at 05:58

    Thanks Cooper.

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