NYT Upshot has an interesting article that reiterates the point I was raising earlier: that, for the Republicans, Trump represents an interesting risk that has a chance of paying off, albeit at a huge risk.
Andrew Gelman and his students had shown some years ago that the intersection between the geography and political economy of elections is a bit more intricate than people think. In the Republican dominated states, the wealth is an accurate predictor of party choice: the poor vote Democrat, the rich vote Republican. It also follows that the more educated the voters are, the more likely they are to vote Republican. In the Democratic dominated states, however, this relationship breaks down. The rich are no more likely to vote Republican than the poor are in these states–or, in other words, the Republican electorate, in terms of the wealth, make for a more heterogeneous coalition. In a sense, the idea of the Democrats as the party of the richer might even be somewhat justified in these states–although not necessarily convincingly so.
The trends noted by NYT’s Nate Cohn is exactly what one would expect if the Reupblicans were to accentuate the trend found in the blue states: attempt to gain votes among the poorer and the undereducated at the expense of risking losing the support of the richer and the better educated: Republican edge in the South thins out while they gain in the North, especially in the Midwest. In terms of raw numbers, this is not a bad risk to take: Democratic edge in the Midwest is not huge, while that of the Republicans in the South is. If the Republicans hold on to the states Romney won in 2012 and add a few Midwestern states, that can be enough to capture a majority.
But is this a realistic goal? Midwestern states (or borderline Midwestern states, like Pennsylvania) do contain many conventional Republicans as well as many working class voters. I’m told that Chuck Todd of NBC was analyzing patterns in Pennsylvania county by county, noting that the Democrats have opened up a huge lead in suburban Philadelphia, for example. Will the added turnout among the poorer voters be enough to compensate? In a way, in Red and Blue states alike, there is a reason that the party that captures the vote of the wealthier voters wins elections.