The Case for Centrist ‘Triangulation’ in the Trump Era Is Hilariously Weak

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Media Outlet: New York Magazine

Lee Drutman and his recent VOTER study were referenced in a New York Magazine article about how electorate positions are changing.

The failure to understand the 2016 election was in large measure not a failure of the final polls, many of which showed a close race, but a failure to understand the powerful storyline of Trump’s appeal with his respect for cops and the military, taking a more aggressive position against our enemies, and pushing for tax and health-care reform. His style is not what won him the presidency. It was, remarkably, his substance.
The Democratic National Convention featured about as many tributes to police and the military as it did poll-tested platitudes. It’s certainly possible that Trump enjoyed an advantage with voters who care deeply about “respect” for cops and the military. But that advantage must have been rooted in his “style” of displaying such respect (which, lets remember, included mocking American prisoners of war).
Exit polls showed that 2016 voters preferred Hillary Clinton on foreign-policy issues by an 11-point margin, so Trump’s “aggressive position against our enemies” wasn’t one of his strengths. And we’ve already discussed the unpopularity of his vision for “tax and health-care reform,” but just to underscore the point: In a recent analysis of VOTER survey (Views of the Electorate Research Survey) data, political scientist Lee Drutman found that 73.5 percent of the 2016 electorate espoused broadly left-of-center views on economic policy.

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Lee Drutman is a senior fellow in the program on political reform at New America. He is the author of The Business of America is Lobbying (Oxford University Press, 2015).