A book recommendation

If you’re Irish and your family looks like it’s been at a wake since 8 November or if you’re Jewish and your family has been sitting shiva since Trump won, I’ve got a book for them. They’ll hate it of course and reading it will be painful for them, but if they want to defeat him in the future they’d best buckle up and read it.

The book is called “How Trump Won” by Joel B. Pollak, and Larry Schweikart. Pollak is Breitbart Senior News Editor at Large, and Schweikart is an emeritus American history prof.

Why should the mourners read it? Simply this. If  you want to defeat Trump in the future you should know just how he beat you. The celebrators of his victory will need no urging.

It’s pretty well written, and the chapters alternate between the two with Pollak describing his experiences in the last days of the campaign starting 19 October and Schweikart covering American history starting with Martin van Buren to put things in context. It is disconcerting as Schweikart also covers the Trump campaign from its inception in 2015, so there are jumps in time from chapter to chapter.

Even though a political junkie I was as bamboozled by the press coverage of the election as anyone else, going to bed at 10PM election night because I knew it would be a rout of Trump — “Hispanics surging to the polls” etc. etc.

A few points to whet your interest. Giving the lie to Breitbart’s antisemitism, Pollak is a devout Jew,leaving the campaign trail each Saturday to observe the sabbath. He’s a Harvard Graduate.

The authors knew Trump would win Florida, based on the early voting. They knew how various counties reliably voted, and the panhandle was early voting heavily. They could see that blacks weren’t voting as much — down 3 – 4 % in Florida, 8% in North Carolina (apparently absolute absentee numbers by location are available long before the election, although not WHO the voters were for). So much for the theory that North Carolina was won because it was difficult for blacks to get the polls — there certainly is no obstacle for early voting.

Here’s another — why were the polls so wrong. People were afraid to say they were for Trump (particularly in liberal enclaves). One pollster (Trafalgar) figured out a way around this — they just asked people who they thought their neighbors would vote for.

On election night the media did what they authors expected, calling states for Clinton as soon as possible, and delaying calling any states for Trump for as long as possible.

Well that’s enough. Either you will grit your teeth and read it or you won’t.

A few other points — I’ve never seen the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Nation and the National Review agree on anything. But they were uniformly against Trump slanting the news against him, declaring his campaign imploding at various times. Fascinating that it had no effect. The National Review put out an entire issue in January 2016 titled “Against Trump.”

So if you find a biased article against your favorite politician (assuming you have one) — relax — it no longer matters.

The book is not abstract, filled with interviews by Pollak of those attending Trump rallies (along with interview of those there to protest him).

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  • Ashutosh  On March 13, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    Seems like an interesting book. The polls weren’t really wrong: the average error was 2% for key states. But it added up in the battleground states where a few thousand votes swung it in Trump’s favor. What was wrong was the psychology and the dead certain optimism in the minds of liberals; they simply could not comprehend why anyone would vote for Trump, and even now they seem to believe that large numbers of people who voted for him are bigots or racists. It doesn’t help that he doesn’t condemn the actual racists.

    Two other books which describe the plight of the rural white working class and which predicted the results of the election are “Hillbilly Elegy” and “Strangers in Their Own Land.” The first one is written by a former marine from a broken Kentucky family who went to Yale and is now married to an Indian-American woman and living in San Francisco. He might be one of the very few people in this country who has seen both sides.

  • luysii  On March 13, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    ” He might be one of the very few people in this country who has seen both sides.”

    I’ve seen both sides. I went to a small high school in what was then rural New Jersey — 48 in our graduating class. NONE of the 24 girls went on to college (at least initially — later some became teachers and nurses) and only 6/24 boys. The 18 went into law enforcement, the military or the trades.

    In fact, when up early, I go to a working class diner for breakfast, because it reminds me so much of the people I grew up with.

  • Ashutosh  On March 22, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    True, but at least your family life was stable. Vance’s family was broken and his mother went through several husbands and boyfriends and had a lifelong cocaine and opioid addiction. It was his grandmother – an amazing, profane, determined woman who sat on her porch with a shotgun – who encouraged him to leave that life.

    • luysii  On March 22, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      Surely, you’re not implying that the rural white working class is like Vance’s family (although some certainly are) — I’d argue against that based on experience growing up and practicing in Montana.

  • Ashutosh  On March 23, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    More in Appalachia than in Montana I would assume. My only point is that the range of experiences of someone who has grown up in a broken, drug-addicted, rural Kentucky family and then gone on to the Marines and Yale Law School before ending up in private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area is truly vast.

    • luysii  On March 23, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      True for the range of absolute intimate personal experience, but observation of 13,000 Montanans and 10,000 Appalachian New Yorkers under the stress of illness and injury in decades of practice is a far larger database of observation than most possess. Everyone gets sick, rich poor, high and low. It’s why I no longer read novels — they have nothing to tell me about real life.

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