Trump, Pence, And Deplorable Math

In mathematical notation an ellipsis (…) is frequently used to mean “continue on in like manner.” Suppose someone wanted to indicate all of the positive integers between one and, say, 31 million. One could obviously start writing down all the numbers, all 31 million of them. Good luck with that. Or one could simply write this: “1, 2, 3…31,000,000.” That little ellipsis is handy and pretty simple. And so is this: If you want to know why Mike Pence refuses to call David Duke deplorable, it all comes down to math. It comes down to that “1,2,3…” above.

If Pence conceded that, yes, Duke is deplorable, he has begun the count of just how many Trump supporters are, in fact, part of that “basket of deplorables” Hillary Clinton described. Her self-admitted “grossly generalistic” calculation that “half of Trump’s supporters” belong in that basket may, for all we know, grossly underestimate the number of “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic” folks who are behind Trump. Such a thing isn’t exactly easy to quantify, but you have to start somewhere and Pence doesn’t want anyone to start counting and adding them all up.

But let’s do start counting. Let’s start counting with David Duke. Is he a Trump supporter? Absolutely. Is he deplorable? According to Republican Joe Scarborough he is. And on the set of Morning Joe this morning, all agreed with Joe that it should be easy for Mike Pence Image result for the deplorablesto say David Duke is deplorable. I think it is fair to say that most Americans would agree with Joe, too. So, that’s 1. And that number 1 is important because now we are not talking about whether some of Trump’s supporters are deplorable, we are talking about how many are deplorable. Again, it is now in the math.

Let’s try number 2. A man named Jared Taylor founded a “think tank” called the New Century Foundation. Taylor also manages a website called “American Renaissance.” He is a white nationalist. The Southern Poverty Law Center has some representative quotes from Taylor, including this:

Blacks and whites are different. When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears.

Taylor’s think tank embraces the idea that “the presence” in America of so many dysfunctional blacks is a big “disadvantage” and that “there are more black psychopaths and more psychopathic behavior among blacks.” You get the idea. Helpfully, Buzzfeed pointed out that Taylor is “an avid supporter” of Donald Trump:

In a recent post, Taylor contended, “If Mr. Trump loses, this could be the last chance whites have to vote for a president who could actually do something useful for them and for their country.”

Now, I think it is fair to say that most Americans would publicly (forget privately for this exercise) admit that Trump supporter Jared Taylor is deplorable. If David Duke is deplorable, so is Taylor. That’s number 2.

Now, let’s get a little bit closer to the mainstream. How about Ann Coulter? She appears on Fox a lot and also on MSNBC now and then. She is a bestselling author and her latest book is “In Trump We Trust.” Clearly she is a Trump supporter. Is she deplorable? Oh, I dunno, let’s look and see if she might be, among other things, xenophobic:

A lot of people are upset when I talk about Mexican child rapes, Muslims clitorectomies, Muslim honor killings…white people don’t do that. America is not used to these types of crimes. We are bringing in cultures where child rape is very common.

Again, I think most Americans would (publicly) concede that the person who made that statement—and there are plenty more like it—deplorable. Certainly, most American women would find deplorable a woman who said, “I think there’s a reason the words ‘bitchy’ and ‘hysteria’ come from females.” Or who made a sexist statement like this:

If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream. It’s a personal fantasy of mine.

So, Coulter is number 3. Now we are at the ellipsis. We’ve got to get to the 31 million mark. But first, why 31 million? Oh, that’s fairly straightforward. Jamelle Bouie, Slate’s chief political correspondent, wrote a few days ago:

In the RealClearPolitics average of the presidential race, Trump takes support from 42.9 percent of registered or likely voters. Half of that, given more than 146 million registered voters, is about 31 million people—right around 13 percent of all voting-age adults.

Now you know where the 31 million number came from. So, was Hillary Clinton right that so many folks in America belong in a basket of deplorables? Well, let’s first note three things:

  • Prior to her remarks, Hillary Clinton admitted she was being “grossly generalistic.”
  • After her remarks she admitted that being so generalistic is “never a good idea” and she was “wrong” to say “half.”
  • There are many—way too many—deplorable Democrats, too.

Given that, let’s quickly get to whether she was even close to the right percentage of Trump supporters who hold bigoted views (the bigotry was, really, the point she was trying to make). Given that it is difficult to measure such things, there is some strong evidence that Clinton was onto something. I’ll let The Nation’s Joan Walsh sum it up:

On Saturday, she walked back her claim that bigots make up “half” of Trump backers, but not her charge about the role of bigotry in his rise. But she needn’t have. Journalists like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jamelle Bouie, andJudd Legum have shown that Clinton was right. Two-thirds of Trump supporters believe President Obama isn’t an American (Trump’s first political crusade, you’ll recall.) Sixty percent have “unfavorable views” of Islam, while more than 40 percent believe blacks are “more violent” and “more criminal” than whites. My personal favorite data point: Twenty percent of Trump backers think Lincoln was wrong to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.

That sounds like some fairly convincing math to me.



  1. ansonburlingame

     /  September 15, 2016


    The latest figures I could find were from the 2013 Census of ” Civilian noninstitutionalized U.S. population” of “Blacks alone, over 18″ and Whites alone, over 18” The rounded off numbers are 30 million for blacks and 156 million for whites. I will assume for arguments sake that all people in each group are eligible to vote (over 18 and not institutionalized). Again for arguments sake let’s assume a 60% voter turnout in both groups. About 95% of the blacks will vote for Hillary and 42% (your number which I agree with) will vote for Trump.

    60% of 30 million is 18 million actual black voters thus 17.1 million blacks voting for Hillary. 60% of 156 million is 93.6 actual white voters thus 39.3 million whites voting for Trump. Recall Hillary claims “half” of Trump voters are “deplorable” (meaning “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic”) which comes out to about 20 million white voters.

    OK, now permit me to name three blacks who fit that bill of “deplorable”. 1. Al Sharpton. 2. Whoever leads the New black Panthers.(The David Duke of blacks). 3. Take your pick of radical Blacks Lives Matter advocates ranting on TV today. Then ……., leaving “half” of 17.1 million, or 8.5 million “deplorable” black voters.

    Obviously I must “smell like a bigot” to suggest that half of black voters are “deplorable”, right. But if all humans are truly “equal” I see no reason to assume that blacks are less (or more) “deplorable” than whites.

    Of course I could run such numbers for Hispanic voters as well and assume half of them are “deplorable” by someone’s standards of such a metric. Add that number to the 8.5 million “deplorable” black voters and we see the “net deplorable voters” narrowing between blacks and Hispanics and those despicable 20 million whites voting for Trump.

    We usually see about 120 million votes in a presidential election and it takes somewhere in the range of 60(plus) million votes to win such an election by popular vote. Run those numbers assuming 42% vote for Trump (50.4 million Trump votes) and thus (no Third Party) 58% for Hillary (69,6 million Hillary votes).

    The real point in all this fuzzy math is that a noticeable percent of 120 million voters will of course fit the description of “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic”, My question is why you believe Trump has a corner on the market of such voters. If the number for Trump is 31 (or 20) million voters I wonder how you would calculate the actual number of “deplorable” Dem voters (other than “many”).

    You and I can agree on 1,2,3 and many more. But there is a vast argument over ……, much less the total number at the end of ….. for either Dems or GOP voters. While no one would argue the mathematical certainty of your initial ellipse, you and I will never agree on the political calculation contained in your other ellipse.

    Any Dem (plus me) will deplore Trump’s sweeping generalization of “murders and rapists”. What baffles me is why Dems do not deplore Hillary’s sweeping generalization of Trump (white only perhaps) voters OR just why “Republicans” are indeed her “greatest enemy” as opposed to …….?

    That is why I still refuse to vote for either one of those “deplorable” candidates this year.



    • I’m not going to argue with you about the numbers, Anson. You know why? Because this election is about much more than any metrics of this or that. This is about competence and temperament and the threat to our national well-being.

      As Trump proved this morning, he is first and foremost a con artist, who managed to get 30 minutes of free air time across all three cable news channels that featured several war heroes lauding his virtues, him lauding the virtues of his new hotel, and then him telling two pathological lies about birtherism, which in itself is disqualifying to be commander-in-chief. This whole thing this morning was unprecedented. And it is completely frightening just how gullible the press is. Trump tricked them and they fell for it. Again.

      The truth remains that Donald Trump is the most dangerous man to ever run for the presidency. If you don’t vote for Clinton, whatever you think of her “numbers,” you are helping him. And, as I will keep saying, you will have to live with that if he wins. If you aren’t worried about that, then I have fundamentally misjudged you all these years. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but this is serious stuff, as far as I’m concerned. I love our country and what it stands for, and I want to keep loving it because it keeps standing for the right things. Honoring ignorance and bigotry and racism and all the rest by making Trump our leader is beyond my ability to comprehend. But it is happening right before our eyes. Don’t be a part of it.



  2. Anonymous

     /  September 15, 2016


    Just was informed this month that my daughter-in-law and daughter both are expecting within four days of each other in March 2017. Your comment on explaining your vote to your grandchildren in Clinton versus Trump, is absolutely spot on. I cannot in good conscience vote for Gary Johnson, as he doesn’t even know where or what Aleppo is, so it leaves only Clinton. A Trump presidency would condemn my now five grandchildren to live in a country that abandons our NATO allies, embraces Russia, and perpetuates the racism our country has tried to end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Congratulations, first. That is exciting news. Second, I’m glad you have decided to vote for Clinton. We need all hands on deck. After what I witnessed this morning, what with the media being conned by the con man, there is no telling where this thing is going. Never been this scared of an election result.


  3. ansonburlingame

     /  September 17, 2016


    You got it right in writing “this election is about much more than any metrics of this or that. This is about competence and temperament and the threat to our national well-being.” Instead of “threat” I would suggest “challenge” would be better however. And of course that is exactly what any presidential election boils down to in essence.

    I know you no longer read the Globe but Christine Flowers had a column therein this morning (Sat.) that bears thought. She wrote it while in Rome and, after slamming Johnson for the “Aleppo” incident, she reflected on the Glory of Rome (while sitting in the Forum) and the undying resilience of democracy. In essence her point was no matter who wins in Nov., America (democracy) will persevere.

    Well, maybe, you and I might both write at this moment in time. I at least will agree with “probably, but……”

    PBS was running a segment interviewing Ohio voters essentially showing how close (and of course important) the outcome in that state will be. It showed one yard sign saying “They all Suck. God help our country.” In my 74 year old memory of past presidential elections that yard sign is unique and yes in a sound bite way reflects my own concerns today in this election. That fact that there are likely many others (who can calculate that number) feeling the same way is also truly unique, in my memory at least. Certainly, I have never voted in a presidential election feeling such despondency.

    I always try to vote as if my own vote (alone) made someone a winner and others losers. Many times it has been a tough choice, deciding for myself. For example, never, repeat never, have I voted “for” Long and would have been (still be…) comfortable if “anyone” had (did) beaten him. But in this presidential election I am simply a lost ball in very high weeds trying to “pick a winner” when all I really want is “someone else”. Again, for me at least, a unique situation.

    I have once again broken my public silence and submitted a proposed column (or long LTTE) and it may appear on Sunday (or later next week). I won’t quote it herein but the last paragraph is my bottom line, no matter who wins in Nov. Unfortunately I also believe that whoever wins will not advance the path of national progress but we won’t fall off any “cliffs” if…… While neither of us want it to happen, reality is that stalemate will continue for the next 4 years. How to break that gridlock remains a huge challenge.



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