PRINCETON, N.J., Sept. 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- In 2008, Barack Obama won 26% of the evangelical vote; in 2012, he won 21%. Hillary Clinton won 16%. If she had simply replicated Obama's performance among evangelicals, she would likely be President.
In his new book, Do We Have a Center? 2016, 2020 and the Challenge of the Trump Presidency, Walter Frank, author of Law and the Gay Rights Story and Making Sense of the Constitution, warns that Democrats ignore the many lessons of the 2016 campaign at their peril.
"The Democrats," Frank counsels, "are in grave trouble if they don't understand exactly what happened in 2016 and all the ways in which Trump and his team made far superior strategic choices."
Many studies emphasize racial anxiety as a key ingredient in Trump's success but Frank finds them internally flawed and in any event unpersuasive in explaining why so many Obama supporters switched to Trump.
He points out that the whole emphasis on racial anxiety seems misplaced given that Trump's margin of success among white voters (21 points) was only one point better than Mitt Romney's 20 points.
Answering the question posed in the book's title, Frank, after examining the scholarly literature, sides with those still seeing a significant center in the country, one, Frank argues, that is not well informed and easily manipulated by party elites who for a variety of reasons, which Frank also examines, now see more danger in agreement than disagreement.
Looking to 2020, Frank describes how neither party's base, no matter how energized, is strong enough to carry its nominee to the White House. He describes the many advantages Trump will enjoy in his re-election bid but believes that there is a roadmap for a Democratic victory, one he describes in the concluding chapter.
Frank also cares deeply about the quality of our elections and shows how the electronic media have contributed greatly toward polarization. He suggests ways in which the media can play a much more constructive role and also makes suggestions for improving presidential debates, including that each of the two candidates be offered six to eight minutes for opening and concluding statements, that questions be made public in advance so the entire nation can feel part of the debate, and that the candidates be given the opportunity to directly question one another.
Stan Katz, Director of Princeton University's Center for Arts and Policy Studies, describes Frank's work as a "clear-eyed, persuasive and scary book for anyone who shares Frank's critique of the President. The book is succinct, well-written and makes for very good reading."
Ed Rubin, University Professor of Law and Political Science at Vanderbilt University, states flatly: "Anyone interested in the current political situation needs to read this book."
Michael Zuckerman, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Pennsylvania, writes: "Walter Frank is that rarest of birds, a gifted storyteller and a brilliant analyst. His account of the 2016 election is as delightful as it is deft: the best brief reading of the campaign I know."
Frank's first book, Making Sense of the Constitution (2012) was named as an outstanding university press book by the American Library Association. His second book, Law and the Gay Rights Story (2014), received favorable reviews, among other places, in the Political Science Quarterly, the Harvard Law Review, Publishers Weekly and the Gay and Lesbian Review.
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SOURCE Walter Frank