Plain English with Derek Thompson - How Joe Biden Lost Millennials

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So I’ve been thinking recently, I should try harder to understand how Republicans and conservatives see the world.

And there are two reasons why I’ve been thinking.


This recently.

The first reason is power, Democrats are headed for a brutal wipeout in November.

They are projected to lose the house.

They are projected to lose the Senate.

They are projected to lose both quite badly.

It is very likely that in six months, Republicans will hold the house and the It in addition to having a historic majority, in the Supreme Court, in addition, to maybe being slight favorites in 2024 against an unpopular, Joe, Biden or whoever runs in his place.


And if you are interested in the near future of American political power, I think you have to be interested in what Republicans want and how they think.

Second, I don’t think I understand what Republicans want or how they think.

I’m not particularly embarrassed about this either.

I live in Washington DC which is a pretty liberal City.


I wrote it the Atlantic.

Which is a heterodox, but basically left of center magazine, my friends are mostly Urban college grad in your 30s, a demographic that overall leans to the left and you can be angry at me if you want for being a journalist who Social Circle isn’t like a perfect representation of the census, but in today’s age of partisan sorting, most of us lives in bubbles, and that are unrepresented, of of this big messy country.


So, I wanted to level up on this topic.

And I reached out to Kristen soltis Anderson.

Kristen is a Republican.

Sister, so she has the big picture on how conservatives and liberals think about the world.

She also runs focus groups that can give us very personal details about how individual Republicans and Democrats think about their lives.


She is also a millennial.

And so, on the way to unpacking, what Democrats don’t understand about Republicans.

We also talked about a phenomenon that has fascinated me that I think is really important which is the absolute implosion of Joe Biden’s.


Ville among young people.

So, get this, since the day of his inauguration, by these approval, has declined by six points, among seniors by eight points, among young Boomers 50 to 64, by 14 points among Gen X, and by 19 points among voters, 35 and younger.


So among the lentils and older gen Z voters, by these approval has dropped almost 20 points in less than 20 months.

So, today’s big picture theme I suppose is political misunderstandings.



Biden doesn’t get about my generation and what liberals like me.

Don’t get about conservatives.

I’m Derek Thompson.

This is plain English.


Kristen welcome to the podcast.

Thank you for having me.


You wear so many hats.

So first to give listeners a sense of your Bona.


Can you give us like 30 seconds on all of your professional hats?


My main job is as a public opinion researcher.


I am a pollster founder of a firm called Echelon insights, and then from time.

I’m to time I take those insights on television.

I’m a CNN contributor, as well.

As I write a newsletter called code book that you can find codebook, that

You are also the author of the selfie vote where Millennials are leading America.


And I have all these questions to ask you about how Republicans think, and how the conservative Outlook has changed in the last decade.

But I actually want to start with young people.

Something very interesting and troubling.

If you’re a Democrat, is With Biden’s approval among young people right now.


It has collapsed not just dramatically, but more than any other age group.

Lots of different polls showed this, but the following numbers come from Civics and online.

Pollster among all 18 to 34.



Approval is down 19 points.


Since January 2021.

Within that age, group approval, for among young people, without a college degree is down 20 points.

For Hispanic young people down, 26 points.

For black young people down 30 points like Joe Biden has in the last 15 months, basically lost the millennial generation.


Why do you think this has happened?

In one sentence?

Joe Biden.

Never really had the millennial generation or Generation Z coming behind them.

They while these two generations are not identical and we can argue about where the dividing line is.

They they’re politically relatively similar these days and arguably by Has never been strong with young voters.


He has just benefited by running against Donald Trump for president.

So if you looked back at all of the data coming out of the Democratic Primary in late 2019, early 2020.

He was getting demolished among young voters within the Democratic Party by folks Like Bernie Sanders.


Now, it didn’t wind up mattering.

He was able to run up the numbers.

So dramatically with, you know, Democrats over the age of 50 that he was.

Able to ultimately secure the nomination, but young voters have never, you know, outside of, you know, oh Uncle Joe, making his Cameo on Parks and Recreation.


And he’s this guy who’s vaguely me mobile with his aviator.


He’s never at least.

In any data.

I’ve seen been someone who’s really captured the heart of young voters.

I do think that his campaign did reasonably well with them in part because Trump was just so off the table as an option for many, and I also think a lot of young voters.


They’re still just learning about politics.

They’re not deeply ideological.

They just kind of hoped.

Okay, maybe we’ll get a normal president in and things will start to feel a little better.

And when your gas is $4 a gallon, we can argue over whose fault that is, but you just, that’s the kind of situation where you’re going.


I don’t know that things feel a lot better right now.

And so, when I Look at Joe Biden’s job approval.

The, the approval numbers among young voters are really low but there’s also a really high level of don’t know, refused and even among those who are giving an opinion.


They tend to be in that we ask as a pollster or do you have strongly approve or somewhat approve?

There’s a lot of somewhat going on here.

Views on him, just aren’t very strong.

So it’s not as though young voters really dislike him.

They just feel extremely messy about him and that’s a big Problem for Democrats because men does not lead you to show up to the polls in a midterm.


That is the demographic that in the last few Cycles has turned out very strongly for Democrats, at least in terms of the margin.

They haven’t necessarily turned out strongly compared to seniors in terms of actual turnout numbers.

What’s really interesting to me is that I totally buy your method argument.

That there is just sort of been a consistent uniform meth that Millennials and older gen Z voters have felt about Joe Biden, since January, February, 20, 21, and that Meth is just now being more visible, more visibly expressed in the polls at the same time.


I think it’s also the case that there’s a lot of disappointment, you know, there were a lot of progressives and even maybe just moderate young people, that thought that there was going to be some kind of action on student debt, maybe that he would cancel student debt that maybe there would be some clear action on solving the affordability crisis.


Well, quite the opposite inflation now is 8%.

Not to percent as it was toward the middle and end of Donald Trump’s administration.

His Jessica genda, I feel like has just a lot of Vibes, emanating, bad vibes, emanating from it in the last 12 months.

He hasn’t really done a whole lot.


And then finally, I think that there’s this, there’s this sense that that everything surrounding Joe Biden, seems to be sort of curdled with Badness, right?

It’s it’s Delta and then and then after Delta is Omicron and then after Omicron, it’s a war in Ukraine that messes up the supply chains even more.


So how much do you think this is also a function of sort of the the broader?

Other Global forces that have pulled down, Joe Biden’s approval rating in the last 12 to 15 months, and that’s just also being reflected in the fact that Millennials are pulling their avowed support for the White House.



I think that’s a part of it.

And I think remember, for an older voter, you typically are talking about someone who is voted in elections for a decade or two or more.

They’ve got pretty ingrained partisanship.

And so things like the polarization, we see where you’ve got Republicans, who there’s nothing Joe.


Could ever do that would make them like him or there are older Democrats where there’s nothing Biden could do to make them dislike him.

That’s a little more baked in, for older voters, but younger voters don’t have as much of a track record of having Beauty brand loyalty to a particular party.


And so as a result, when things get go, when things are going rough, you don’t necessarily have that reservoir of Goodwill and hey, trust me.

It’s not my fault.

Stick with My team younger voters won’t have as much of that as older voters.



The good news for Democrats, is that young voters are not becoming conservatives.

I am not like the other question that pollsters like to ask is, you know, if the election were held today for whom would you vote for Congress or republican or democrat?

And in, many of the exact same polls that are showing Joe Biden with terrible job, approval numbers among young voters.


Those are still the, the generational groups that are breaking the most for That’s so they’ve not become Republicans.

They’re just checking out entirely.

I’m really curious about the intersection of a, this this generation of young people that is in fits and starts becoming more political.


You are seeing more things like occupy more things, like the Bernie Sanders campaign of 2016 and also 2020 these murmuration of political energy, among young people juxtaposed, with the fact that American Six overall is arguably as old order onto Craddock as it’s ever been.


I mean, Joe Biden is the oldest president in American history.

If Joe Biden had lost, Donald Trump would have been the oldest president in American history.

If you look at the Senate, if you look at Congress, the average age of both of those bodies is near an all-time high.

The party leaders are basically all I believe over 73 to what extent do you think that the she rolled - of 10 of national politics right now, is a driving factor in the way that young people think about the frustrations of government and their disinclination.


As you put it to affiliate with strongly with Democrats, Republicans and thinking, well, it’s just one group of old people versus a, more liberal group of old people.

And neither of them are speaking directly to me.

Is that a factor here as well?

There are two questions that I think are pretty Illuminating on.

This one, is you ask people.


Do you think the next generation will be better off?

Off worse off or about the same as as your generation and it’s actually older voters.

That are more likely to think the next generation is in trouble.

That’s not to say that young people don’t think that things are bad.


They think everything is great and everything’s fine.

I mean, there’s tons of data about how young people are stressed out about the extremely high cost of housing, for instance, or the rising cost of things, like a college education, but at the same time, I find a lot of young, people will say, aye.


I think we’re going to be able to make things better when we’re finally in charge that for an older generation.

They just think things are structurally, broken.

And the kids these days are going to be worse off for, you know, any number of reasons.

But for many young people, they’re just sort of thinking there are a lot of systems that seem pretty broken.


And the older people who are in charge of them, don’t seem to be doing a very good job.

The good news is, I think once my generation is in charge, will be able to make it better and in, The meantime, there are other things I can do outside of sort of traditional politics and running for office to bring about change.


Now, some of this means having your politics invade or pervade other parts of your life, where for an older American you might have this really clear dividing line between okay, I watch the news and I go vote and then other things in my life, like my work.


And what I buy at the grocery store that is all separate from my politics for many young people.

That line is much more.

Blurred that by the choices they make in the grocery aisle, or the things that they demand of their bosses within their companies, that’s another way for them to make change.


And it’s a lever that I think older Americans don’t think of, in quite the same way.

I’d love you to expand on this because it’s one of the most fascinating political, phenomena among young people.

I think this discrepancy between Millennials being less likely to vote than older Generations, but also exerting more Equal power at their own institutions, right?


You have this idea that college campuses have become more political, more inclined, tube and speakers, who aren’t politically aligned with students.

You see this at companies, Millennials are broadly seen as more political more, insistent that companies follow their politics.

We just saw this with Disney where employees insisted that Disney CEO.


Bob capek, speak out against Florida’s parental rights law, AKA don’t say gay.

I’m sure class and education play a role in the answer here, but it is interesting, right?

That you The generation that is less likely to vote in elections, but more likely than previous generations to express their political views at work.


I think some of this is that for younger Americans.

We have kind of grown up with more ways to speak our minds For Better or Worse.

We have come of age in the era of social media.

And so, if you are someone who is 24, 25 years old, you have ways to grab a microphone and make a political.


Cool statement that were not available to someone who was 25 years old in 1972.

And so the the that piece of the landscape I think has changed and especially for Generation Z part of that, you know belief that hey my generation is going to make things better is linked to.


We are good at grabbing the microphone in a way that terrifies older generations and there’s power in that.

I also think that the pace of change has really accelerated looking over a long enough time.

Listen, and so we’re decades ago.


The boss may have been able to learn sort of look at the younger workers and say like no.

No, I know what’s best.

We’re going to keep doing things the way we’ve been doing for so long.

I find that many older Americans.

I talk to about these sort of generational, clashes just feel very confused and honestly, a little scared of the younger employees, because they recognize my younger employees and staff or my students, they have tools available.


Bill to them, that I don’t fully understand that seemed to use to wield, a lot of power these days.

And since I don’t fully understand it, maybe I need to just listen to them a little bit more because I’m afraid of what will happen.

If I don’t that some of this, I think, is an older generation.


Just not understanding fully how younger generation works and operates and thinks, and that lack of understanding leading them to be fearful.

And in some cases, therefore, very deferential now, I think it’s important to clarify and you sort of had this caveat to is that to what extent is this?


Like college-educated?

I think it’s it’s not necessarily just about education, but it is a small slice of the Millennials and gen Z Workforce.

The vast majority are not going to their CEO demanding, you know, change on the basis of politics, but that small slice is able to be very vocal is able to leverage the tools that they have at their disposal to make a lot of noise.


And for Or a consumer-facing company.

For instance.

You may just sort of recognize that Republicans are not going to stop, buying your widgets, because you put out a nice statement about LGBT issues erase, but if you don’t say, the right things on LGBT issues or race younger consumers will stop buying your widgets and will punish you.


And so, that is also part of where some of these CEOs are trying to now how they’re To navigate this.

I think it’s just so interesting.

You know, I thought that young people being a quite liberal generation would over time color the entire electorate blue as they grew up as they entered age brackets.


There are more likely to vote.

So you could just see this sort of millennial wave coming into the electorate and this was the sort of demographics is Destiny argument that said that we were going to be electing, you know, democratic presidents until the end of time and to a certain extent and aspect of that is happening.

And that people under 35 reliably lean.


There’s a block, but something else has happened in.

This is where I want to take the second chapter of our conversation here.

Something else has happened.

I didn’t quite anticipate and that is that the perceived liberalization of America, which is related to, but not exclusively because of young, people has really energized.


The culture wars in a way that I think at The Ballot Box has helped Republicans.

I mean, I don’t want to be misunderstood here.

I’m not saying anything.

As critical as like young people being pro-lgbt are So for Trump or anything like that, I’m just saying there is this, fascinating Mutual anticipate antipathy.


This it is this see this sort of wacky, toxic symbiosis between this, this emerging cultural liberalism on the one hand, and this emerging new conservative mindset, on the other hand, and I really want to spend a little bit of time, talking to you about about that the sort of emerging conservative mindset.


So, speaking to a liberal Millennial as you are, here.

I am.


I’m a liberal Urban millennial.

I wanted you to just explain to me what it is, that people like me misunderstand about the country.

We live in by misunderstanding the conservative mindset.


So, let me ask the question in a very broad way.

And then maybe we can pick it apart to the rest of the show.

What is it?

The Democrats like me?

Don’t understand about Republicans.

I think the two things that many people don’t understand about.

The conservative mindset is one.


They overestimate.

How much real estate Donald Trump.

Takes up in the mind of the median, Republican or conservative voter.

And second.

I think they underestimate the extent to which your median conservative or republican voter feels pretty powerless in the face of very rapid change that, they think is powered by very powerful institutions that do not care about them anymore.


I find both of these things, very interesting because I agree with their both misunderstandings.

I think a that Democrats would be surprised to hear it.

Republican pollster say that Trump looms, too.

Large in our imagination and B would be surprised to hear that the overwhelming feeling among conservatives, is one of powerlessness because I think the Democrats feel the same kind of powerlessness on their end too.


So let’s take these one by one first, Donald Trump.

Any pushback as the liberal in this conversation against your characterization that Trump is too much of a boogeyman.

Or at least seems too much for boogie man, on the left.


Is this guy still incredibly powerful, isn’t he still arguably the most powerful?

Republican, a republican that people in Ohio and Georgia running for office for Senate, for governor are desperate for his endorsement.

So, persuade me, please.


That Donald Trump is overrated in terms of his power over the Republican electorate.

Elected Republicans.

Definitely do not want to create headaches for themselves by Crossing Donald Trump and because so many elected officials Republican and Democratic are mostly held accountable by their primary, electorates and are not in a swing District.


That’s just the reality of the world, we’re living in, but I think for the median Republican voter, not year loud activist, not your cable news host.

But for just your average person who every two to four years goes, and pulls the lever.

For Republicans, they like Donald Trump, fine.


If he runs in 2024, they might vote for him.


They’d sure rather have him in office in the current president, but he is not someone who is driving their every view on every issue at my firm.

We did an experiment where we, it’s called a conjoint analysis.


You, they use this in market research all the time to figure out what people rather have more cup holders or USB ports in a car or something like that.

You’re testing out different features.

So, we did this with hypothetical.

That’s where we would present people in a survey with two hypothetical candidates.

That would have a bunch of different attributes.


And then you at the end, can see, like, which feature is associated with the candidates who tended to win more?

And we found that Donald Trump’s endorsement alone was only worth like three points in a primary, but if it was paired with the endorsement of other local Republican officials that suddenly goes up to like 20 points and it was the strongest feature that we tested at the same time.


If he specifically Does not endorse you that does create a negative effect.

And so I think Brian Kemp in Georgia is going to be an interesting example of this is someone who continues to be ahead in the polls, you know, not not by just a little bit against his primary rival in David Perdue.


Despite Donald Trump, focusing the Death Star on him directly and just to catch people love, right?

Camp is the incumbent who was the governor of Georgia when Trump lost the election?


I basically wanted Kemp and his consigliere has to hand him, the state of Georgia, through whatever nefarious means.


He conjured up.

Now Camp is running for re-election.

And there is a trump light candidate in the race.

That is Purdue Trump has endorsed Purdue but Kemp the non Donald Trump endorsed candidate retains a moderate lead in that race, which goes exactly to your point.


The Democrats mildly over rate the value of a trump endorsement and by extension might mildly overrate Trump’s sort of send golly like power on the part.

A couple other things that I think are really interesting in terms of Trumps overrated Svengali, like power on the party, you talked about his pro-vaccine stance.


Trump is not that subtly pro-vaccine.

He has been kind of outspoken about getting boosted and being proud of operation warp speed which was the government program.

He initiated then helped us get the MRNA vaccines.

I’ve seen him booed and conferences for saying that he’s pro-vaccine.


His support of the vaccine has clearly done very, very little for Republican, uptake of the vaccine.

That seems like another interesting piece of evidence that, he’s not exactly a strong cult leader.

Another one truth social.

He launched that social media app or whatever.

It was replacement, Twitter and it’s done quite terribly as far as I understand it.


So, you would think again, if Trump were a real cult leader.

He could launch a product and the MLM underlings would make it a hit.

Well, truth social is not exactly a hit and then finally Trump has been continues to be more.



Then the median Republican seems to me to be pro-putin.

It seems to me that antipathy toward Russia despite what Tucker Carlson says.

Every night on Fox News is relatively bipartisan, the vast majority of Americans left of center, right?

Of Center are not pro-putin at all.


So is it?

I’m very interested to hear you say that.

I didn’t expect you to say it.

But when you add it all up, it does seem to me like like Trump might be slightly overrated as a as a boogeyman on the right, my necessary, follow-up to you, and this is probably the questions.

Earning in a lot of listeners, heads is okay.


Does that mean that he’s not the favorite in 2024?

Does that mean that the field is the favorite or that even more specifically, a Ron DeSantis governor of Florida is is stronger than he might seem to those on the MSNBC left to hold up Trump.

As the all-powerful Donald Trump certainly is in pole position at the moment.


But some of that is for lack of, really well-known Alternatives who have introduced themselves to Republican voters.

As someone interested in running for president very clearly because so many of them are still dancing around this question of.

Well, if Donald Trump runs, and I probably won’t.


Anyways, so it’s a little bit opaque.

Something that I point to is, I did a focus group for the New York Times back in January of Republican voters and their views on January sixth.

This was the first in a series of focus groups that that I’ve done for the New York Times, looking at different slices of the electorate and And in this focus group, you had a lot of Voters who had no interest in anyone who had criticized Donald Trump.


After January 6th, even those who said they were horrified by what they had seen on TV, they felt like, you know, the texts that got released between, you know, folks, like Laura Ingraham, Etc, saying, you know, tell tell them to call it off, you know, this is bad.


They just thought, I can’t believe all these people criticize Donald Trump, so they have lots of affection for him, but when we got to the question, 20:24.

They were a little more ambivalent.

They were you know, he’s fine.

I wish he was president now, but if someone else comes along I think as long as they are putting America first or you know, whatever those policies look like, I’d be open to it.


So that to me was the first time that I had heard.


These are not never try a.

These are not folks that are watching.


These are, you know, pretty Mainline Republican voters.

They like Donald Trump fine.

But they could go for someone else, if someone else emerged and that’s the big question.


You mentioned.

The second answer to the question.

What is it that liberal Urban Millennials?

Like me, don’t understand about the conservative mindset, was the perceived powerlessness that conservatives feel when they look at the cultural landscape, or maybe even the corporate landscape, when they look at companies like Apple or Google or Disney that represent themselves through various ways as being.


Progressive in some might even although I would never say this sincerely.

Woke right, what I find.

So interesting about that answer and I’d love you to help me unpack.

This is that as you well know, liberals feel the exact same way, liberals feel that they are powerless that they want certain laws surrounding abortion or education to be the law of the land or to be the law of their home state and feel like they are losing in the courts and they are losing at the local politics.


Well, that Texas laws against abortion and Florida, right?

Florida laws about parental control of Education, make liberal priorities endangered in America.

They look at Washington where I think it is, totally fair to say, the Republicans are very likely to win, both the house and the senate in the midterms.


They already control the Supreme Court, which has much more power in the US to overturn laws and it has in other countries, which means that a conservative body has powers to overturn liberal laws.

In the United States that it doesn’t necessarily have in other countries, which is a long-winded way of saying that Liberals are terrified as hell and therefore fighting against perceived, Republican power, and politics and Republicans are sort of closing their grips around their control of politics, because they’re terrified as hell of liberal power, in culture in the media.


Like, is this in your mind a kind of spin cycle of powerlessness that both sides are retreating to their far poles.

Because they think that their power in America, whether its political or cultural is being endangered 100%.


And it frankly leads voters to be more tolerant of things.

They might not have been tolerant of otherwise, because when you feel Under Siege, you are more willing to accept behavior that is outside the norm.

If you feel like, well, you don’t want your side to be, the one to disarm in the arms race, and so it allows the it allows.


Polarization to get much worse, an analogy.

I use is in politics and political science.

There’s something we call thermostatic public opinion, which is usually used to describe the way people feel about pretty, you know, benign policy stuff that if you have a president, who wants to spend a lot of money then suddenly the public becomes really interested in well.


Government spending is a problem and we need to stop and then they vote people that are fiscally conservative and then you put someone in office or at least claims to be fiscally conservative and suddenly Buddy cares about that anymore and they say no.

No, we would like the government to spend more money and back and forth.

I think the problem is that the thermostat in our politics is a little bit broken.


These days in that, the, the news that people consume often tells them, your side is losing and you are under siege and so much like a thermostat that is broken.

Suddenly if your thermostat is constantly reading that the window is open and you have to just crank the heat because cold air is coming in.


You’re just going to crank that heat hotter and hotter and hotter fighting against a force that may or may not exist.

But the thermostat, sure thinks it does.

And that’s what’s causing our politics to really overheat.

I’m very interested in the thermostatic theory of public opinion, which you very capably, just described.


But I wonder if something beyond that is happening.

Like, I think Americans are losing their minds a little bit, and I think the media has something to do with it.

Like the way I see it.

There are some Democrats.

There are a lot of Democrats who Republicans are trying to ban abortions with one hand and break the infrastructure of democracy with the other.


And in your model, many Republicans feel justified in pursuing.

I think fairly extreme policies in part, because of a fear of powerlessness of fear, that liberal culture wants to cancel them into Oblivion.

I mean, like, if this is thermostatic, it’s like, it’s like setting the thermostat to 120 because you think your roommate or partner is going to open the window during a blizzard or something like this is Extreme thermostatic.


Xavier so sticking with Republicans here.

Do you think their fear has something to do with where they get their news?

Like, how much of this is about the stories?

Conservatives, tell themselves on social media and Fox News.

I don’t think you can just point to say, cable news on this front and I say this as someone who has been a contributor at different news networks.


I’ve been a contributor at ABC.

I’ve been a contributor at Fox and I’m now a contributor at CNN.

So I’ve seen I’ve seen a lot of different things.

I mean, on a good night Tucker, Some gets three million people to watch his show.

That is a teeny, tiny infinitesimally small slice of the American population.


Even if we’re just looking at the American Leaguer than this podcast smaller than the American election.

Yeah, I shouldn’t say no to an audience of 3 billion.

I want to be clear, but I think there’s this notion the interior to your question about.

Well, what do progressives get wrong about conservatives?


Most conservatives are not watching Tucker Carlson and Hannity every night.

But with that said, Said there is an ecosystem of the stuff that bubbles its way to you through social media.

That means you don’t have to have watched it last night live when it was on for the ideas that are talked about or the examples that are raised kind of make their way to you.


And same thing with a progressive who’s maybe not watching Rachel Maddow every night, but the things that are brought up suddenly become, you know, viral 92nd, you wouldn’t believe the things that happened in this Congressional hearing today, montages that then make their way to you.

Social media.


And this goes to the, the problem of incentives where the incentive of is not to create content online, that makes people think it’s to make people feel because feeling is what is going to make you share it.

It’s what’s going to hold your eyeballs longer.


And so content, that makes us feel rather than think is the stuff that gets turned up and shared the most and something that says, hey, the world’s not actually so bad is not as As likely to inspire an emotional response.


As oh my goodness.

Can you believe this horrible thing?

Can you believe this book that this school board somewhere band, High arousal?

Negative emotions are the ones that go aerodynamic on social media for sure.

I think, I think you’re right.

I think that that media has something to do with it.


I think social media has something to do with it.

I also think that there’s underlying realities that show the polarization is just getting worse, you know, if it is the case that agree or disagree with Most of their policies and I agree with most of their policies.

The lgbtq movement is to the left of where it was 10 15, 20 years ago and Republicans are correct in noting that Liberals are more liberal than they were.


Just a decade ago.

At the same time.

I think that Liberals are correct to point out, that something like the Texas abortion law is more severe than the sort of laws.

That conservatives are trying to pass 10 to 15, 20 years ago.

So it goes to original thesis.

This this is still sort of thermostatic powerlessness War.



That’s still what it is.

Is both sides being feeling powerless and therefore retrenching even further to decide in response, but it’s not just the media representation.

I think there’s also underlying realities of of deepening polarization wasn’t to overrule what you said.

I just want to make sure that I had that on the record.


Very last thing I want to talk to you about, which is actually one of the original reasons why I wanted to have you on the show, was that, you held a focus group of conservative men, that was written about and published in the New York Times that I thought was utterly fascinating.


I thought the response to it the online reaction to this article was completely fascinating.

So, let’s talk about both the substance and the reaction.

You hold this focus group with conservative mandate, conservative men.

What did they say?

That was?

Interesting to you.

I feel like for these men.


What was most interesting to me, was that their sense of not fitting into modern culture was very real and it wasn’t just theoretical.

It wasn’t just, I feel like I don’t fit in because someone on TV or something.


I saw in social media, told me I didn’t.

It was that these men had examples of, you know, being ostracized within their Church communities for having noted that they were concerned.

Serve itive.

You had one participant.

This was one moment that went particularly viral from the focus group where he talked about being a realtor and getting - Yelp reviews from someone with whom.


He had had a conflict on an HOA board and feeling like his, that the world becoming more Progressive was having real consequences for them.

Personally, not just theoretical but something that was affecting their lives and And that’s why even though they know throughout the focus group.


They were very clear that they know their views on things were unpopular.

They nevertheless think that they’re right?

And we’re unwilling to back down from their views on things like gender roles, Etc.


Even, even in the face of me, as a young female moderator telling me to my face.

Well, you know, there’s a reason why women got the weaker sex, I thought.


Well, don’t worry about that, sir.

I think in these focus groups, these guys know that they are out of step with today’s culture.


They know that they are out of step with where culture is headed and they know that it can have consequences for their lives, their careers.

And so they try to just figure out how do I, you know, many of them said, things like I haven’t made a new friend in many years and there’s plenty of data outside of this focus group.


That backs that up, that men in particular these days just have fewer and fewer close.

That a lot of them are just sort of retreating from a lot of spaces that they may have previously engaged with because they just sort of get that they are not where Society is headed and don’t know how to make sense of that.


It’s funny.

I’ve long thought there were surprising similarities between left-wing, Millennials and working-class, Republicans.

They’re both turning away from religion Church attendance among white men.

Without a college degree is declining just about as fast as it is.


Among young college grads.

Both are deeply skeptical of Elites.

And both are lonely.

Like what you’re describing is, it is a culture of loneliness and loneliness isn’t often considered a political phenomenon, but maybe it should be, maybe we need some anti lonely politician to raise the political salience of loneliness and Connect that to your article in the New York Times.


I read it.

I disagreed with about half of what these conservative men said and I thought the subtext of their message was I’m done with the left because I think liberal America basically wants me to go fuck myself.

And then I go on Twitter and guess what?

A lot of my left this at our friends told these guys to do in, not so many words basically go fuck yourself.


So Kristen from a coldly, political standpoint are my friends.


Is it just not worth it for Democrats to pursue this group, or do you think Democrats are making a huge error in assuming that working-class dudes are hereby rendered, Eternal property of the Republican party from a pure political strategy perspective.



You are trying to anytime you have decided that you are, okay, losing a group of Voters.

You have to have someone else that you are.

Are adding to take their place and I think in this focus group, there are some of those men of those eight men who they were probably, they’ve never probably never voted for a Democrat.


They probably never would vote for a Democrat.

Writing them off is not costing Democrats any votes, but there were a couple who I think that, if you had approached them with a message that said, hey, don’t you think it’s terrible that the middle class has been hollowed out over the last, you know, couple of decades in American society.


And if your message to them was focused on that and also, I didn’t say, by the way.

I find you repellent.

They could potentially vote for Democratic candidates.

I think, in particular, the most interesting voices in the group, you know, you had two African-American men who talked about how, you know, they that was one of the examples of a man who said, I, you know, people at my church won’t even talk to me anymore because of the views that I’ve expressed on some of these things that there are a lot of men who are, you know, whether it’s a diverse Coalition of kind of working class guy.


Guys, or what have you that used to be very available to Democrats through a kind of an economic message.

But who now, it’s just hard to imagine them voting for a Democratic candidate.

Because why would you vote for someone who says, I think you are a bad person.


Now, the flip side of that is that for Democrat?

You know, this is a war amongst Democratic strategist that I just watch unfold on Twitter, but the the counter-argument is, we should call their views for what they are.

And we should acknowledge that if we are.

Trying to Pander to them and tell them that their welcome in our Coalition you are depressing the base of our party and they will not turn out.


Republicans had this same thing go down 10 years ago when Mitt Romney lost in 2012.

That was the fight was should Republicans try to moderate?

Be more accommodating to socially Progressive voters.

Bring them in.

Say nice things about immigration reform etcetera, or should they double down on a really strongly conservative message and win back those disaffected?


And evangelicals.

So this is a tale as old as time in politics, but I do think that some of those men in that focus group would be available to Democrats on a purely economic message.

If they were not also simultaneously hearing we don’t want you at every turn.


This leads me to my last question for you, which is about masculinity in your focus group.

The men were exquisitely, sensitive to questions about masculinity in American culture.

Like they were very aware.

Of the way that young men were cross-dressing and they didn’t like that.


They felt very threatened by the perceived attack on all men online and this fits into a little bit of electoral history, men have pulled away from democratic party in almost every election since 1980 women have voted for Democrats.

And and I think every election except for one since 1980 men have voted for republicans.


And it’s funny because it was reading these men saying something like quote.

I don’t know.

What masculinity, even means anymore?

I was thinking to myself, you know, I don’t think that much about masculinity, to be honest.

But as a matter of like, definitions, I am very aware of what constitutes toxic masculinity, but I am not entirely clear on what constitutes anti.


Toxic masculinity.

Like the positive definition of masculinity is not.

I think a very popular project on the left.

So Christian, what do you think?

Are the prospects for a more positive vision of Liberal masculinity.

This I think goes back to our earlier discussion about the pace of change and for some of these men, look the idea that there are going to be people who say, I don’t understand the way the kids these days dress and I feel like that is a sign of broader societal.


Decay is extremely not new, right?

That’s what hundreds of years old and there was even a moment where one of one of the men in the group who had was a little more.

Aggressively vocal about his views, you know, he was trying to bring other participants along with him on some of this.


And one said I can’t come with you man.

You’re too Macho, like I’m not in on this.

But, you know, there it’s interesting.

You’ve got this, you know, sort of arch-conservative view online.

That I think you’ve got this new documentary that Tucker Carlson is putting out with a trailer that has gone viral because it’s unbelievable.


End of man, and it’s like a lot of shirt.

Sky’s all like it’s like it’s like the Top Gun volleyball scene in terms of its homoeroticism, but it’s also an explicitly Pro masculine Republican add.

It’s a really fascinating piece of visual culture for sure the unpack that for our that’s another episode that’s another episode, but it will say this, this anxiety on the right.


That men are viewed as the bad guys.

Very broadly that has Fed into this idea of what one side says, you’re not a good person, just by virtue of who you are not based on your actions, just because of your identity.


You are inherently probably somewhat, a bad person that I do think is a problem.

Because again, a lot of these guys in that focus group.

Some of them had views that you could very rightly say, they’re out of step in their out of step, for a reason, but there were others who said, you know, for me and I would encourage people, you know, there’s an Abridged transcript on The website at the New York Times, but there’s a full 80 minutes of audio.


You may not want to listen to All 80 minutes.

But you know where some of them say look.

A lot of the things that I would say, you know, are the things that make a man are not so different from the things that I would say make a woman.

Like that was actually one of the comments that one of the people said, you know, I don’t know that.

It’s so different necessarily but that things like some of the positive characteristics, they associated with masculinity.


They just felt like weren’t valued in.

Society anymore.

And they just wanted to know that things that they associated with themselves.

Hard work, etc.

Again, these are not things that women don’t do and some of them even acknowledge that but just that their view of masculinity and their own identity.


They didn’t think that it was necessarily A Bad Thing to hold some of the values that they held, but they don’t feel like Society values them anymore and that makes them very anxious and I think they are open to a political figure.

It tells them that they do think that some of those values, really matter.


I’ve it’s very well said.

I it’s one of the issues that fascinates me most and I honestly haven’t written that much about it.

But I think the gender divide and politics right now is fascinating.

I think it’s I think it’s disturbing.

I don’t I don’t I think it’s bizarre to have one party that is women plus 20 and another party that is men plus 21.


Like I think it’s just a strange cultural phenomenon to have emerging and doing future and I’m completely fascinated by the degree to To which it would be helpful for their Democratic party to Cobble together, a positive vision of masculinity that could appeal to to the middle and center, right?


This has been incredibly informative for me, Chris and I really, really appreciate your time.

And we’re going to have you back on the show very soon to help me unpack.

So my other theories are politics, but I appreciate this time, and thanks very much.

Thank you so much, Derek.

I’m a huge ringer fan.

So this has been an unbelievable honor.



Planning this with Derek Thompson is produced by Devin.


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We will be back with our second episode this week.

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