Still not a fan, but this makes more sense than anything I've seen yet.
UPDATE: FiveThirtyEight goes on a "quest" to try to understand Trump voters.
Here's what I think they get right, which I will follow on with what I think they are missing.
I queued up in the general admission line and entered the massive space just as the national anthem was starting. The assembled crowd of about 5,000 was reverently quiet — a massive flag billowed, police officers and firefighters stood at attention, and the sickly gray sky seemed more like swirling marble than the dull harbinger of rain it had been only moments ago. Something stirred deep beneath my layers of reportorial cynicism; I got chills.The emotional experience Trump is capable of creating is why it will be difficult to replace him, even with Cruz who is a more rational choice given their expressed concerns. Cruz is the right choice for these voters, but they don't have the emotional experience with him. It is Trump that makes them feel large, proud, and part of something.
This part of the appeal of Trump rallies is not talked about much.... Along with the fighting, though, something inspirational seems to be happening among the assembled — a sense of collective identity being discovered. In this millionaire cosmopolitan who has married two immigrants, the threatened silent American majority has found its champion.
What I think FiveThirtyEight and others are missing is that this is not something affecting the Republican party only. The author writes that "working-class whites’ racial anger had reconstituted their sense of identity; and their desire for the center to no longer hold meant drastic upheaval in the Grand Old Party and America." If this is about "working class whites" discovering a newly invigorated racial identity, though, that is going to cut a part of the heart out of the Democratic Party, too.
The numbers suggest that, if everything else holds equal, Trump will need 70% of the white male vote to win.
I think he might get it. It would only mean that white men vote more like black men -- that is, as a bloc. The rise of such a bloc ought to have been expected given the Democratic Party's explicit strategy of overcoming Republican advantages with white voters by emphasizing the interests of minority voters while pursuing the mass immigration of new such voters.
Until now, among white voters it has been possible for Democrats to divide and conquer blue collar from white collar, labor from management. That is, until this election, race has mattered most to black voters, but class has mattered most to white voters. It is still somewhat possible to divide out white women from white men by appealing to them qua women. That is, for some white voters, sex matters more than race. The Democrats are hoping to leverage that with Hillary Clinton as their nominee.
Thus, Trump has to pull 70% with white men because we haven't yet reached the point at which our politics are explicitly about whites versus everyone else. We are getting there fast, though. What the Democrats are blind about is that it is their party's electoral strategy that is driving this. The reason the 'white working class' is discovering a racial identity rather than a class identity is that "white" is the box they've been put into by powerful forces affecting their lives.
They aren't creating this identity for themselves. They're discovering the power of accepting membership in it. They're just figuring out what black America has long known: that taking the externally-imposed identity seriously, owning it, and wielding it through bloc voting is terribly powerful.
Neither race- nor class-based democratic systems turn out well. We've had a good run because the system didn't go all one way or all the other: the majority was divided by class while the minorities were divided by race. If we tip over into a system in which race is the main driver of political belonging, we're not going to have a pleasant future. But I don't know how you stop it from one side: and the Republicans aren't the main drivers of race-as-identity in American life. I don't see how they can pull a lever to stop this, not when the levers are mostly owned by the other side.