Reason Roundup

Will Twitter Derangement Syndrome Kill the Democrats in 2020?: Reason Roundup

Plus: a radical remembering of the suburbs; support for sex-work decrim in NY; Bret Easton Ellis on Mueller and media


bird: Dssart studio Top Photo Group/Newscom; background: Spaces Blend Images/Newscom

Democratic Party polarity, social media, and suburban misconceptions. The Extremely Online wing of the Democratic Party diverges significantly from Democrats overall. And both progressive activists and traditional liberals are overrepresented on social media compared to the party as a whole.

"Today's Democratic Party is increasingly perceived as dominated by its 'woke' left wing," write Nate Cohn and Kevin Quealy at The Upshot. "But the views of Democrats on social media often bear little resemblance to those of the wider Democratic electorate."

How do they know? They looked at the data:

The outspoken group of Democratic-leaning voters on social media is outnumbered, roughly 2 to 1, by the more moderate, more diverse and less educated group of Democrats who typically don't post political content online, according to data from the Hidden Tribes Project. This latter group has the numbers to decide the Democratic presidential nomination in favor of a relatively moderate establishment favorite, as it has often done in the past.

Take a quick look at these charts:

New York Times
New York Times

"The relative moderation of Democrats who are not sharing their political thoughts on social media, and therefore of Democrats as a whole," could help "explain why recent polls show that a majority of Democrats would rather see the party become more moderate than move leftward, even as progressives clamor for a Green New Deal or Medicare for all," write Cohn and Quealy.

In one sense, this misalignment is irrelevant. The party's priorities overall don't matter if elites are disproportionately influenced by the more vocal, media-friendly, online-savvy, and left-leaning segments of liberal America. But of course, Democratic candidates and campaigns do this at their own peril come election time.

Unfortunately, "the rest of the party is easy to miss," note Cohn and Quealy. "Not only is it less active on social media, but it is also under-represented in the well-educated, urban enclaves where journalists roam. It is under-represented in the Northern blue states and districts where most Democratic politicians win elections."

Perhaps of interest to libertarians and those interested in independent and third-party candidates:

Less engaged and less ideological voters tend to be cynical about politics. One might think cynicism would translate to support for outsider candidates, and it probably could against an establishment favorite with enough flaws. Instead, it has more often meant skepticism of ambitious, idealistic, pie-in-the-sky liberals and progressives who offer big promises with no record. It has meant an appreciation for well-known, battle-tested politicians who have been on their side or even delivered in the past. This election cycle, Mr. Biden might be the beneficiary of such sentiment.

A good companion read to the above is "A Tale of Two Suburbs," in which Clare Malone at FiveThirtyEight explains why "white Democrats' culture clash has been long in the making." Using her home turf cities of Shaker Heights and Parma, both just outside Cleveland, Ohio, Malone writes:

The two cities, one racially mixed, the other homogenous, have become my reference point for a cultural fissure in the Democratic Party that gaped open with the election of Trump. White Americans have split politically along class lines, and their alienation from each other following 2016 seems utter and complete. But the split that's happening isn't just between residents of rural and urban places. It's also apparent in some suburbs, among people whose lives aren't, at least on the surface, all that different from one another's.

While we're rethinking suburban politics: "Radical" and "suburbs" aren't usually two words that go together. Amanda Kolson Hurley would like to reconsider that:

Clichés and misconceptions still define suburbia in the popular imagination, and it drives me crazy. I live in Montgomery County, Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C. I'm a suburbanite, but my life doesn't revolve around manicured lawns, status anxiety, or a craving for homogeneity. My suburban experience is riding the bus as people chat around me in Spanish and French Creole. It's having neighbors who hail from Tibet, Brazil, and Kenya as well as Cincinnati. It's my son attending a school that reflects the diversity—and stubborn inequality—of America today.*

Hurley's new book doesn't dispute the post-industrialization, post-war white flight narrative of suburban sprawl so much as built beyond it. "Radical Suburbs is about waves of idealists who established alternative suburbs outside of Eastern U.S. cities, beginning in the 1820s and continuing through the 1960s," she writes at CityLab.

These groups had very different backgrounds and motivations, but all of them believed in the power of the local community to shape moral and social values, and in the freedom provided by outskirts land to live and build in new ways.


Devin Nunes "has no idea how Twitter works," as Intelligencer succinctly puts it. And yet he's bringing a second defamation lawsuit centered largely on tweets that he feels were unfair to him. The first lawsuit, filed last month, names strategist Liz Mair along with a fake cow and an account calling itself Devin Nunes' mom. The new lawsuit also names Mair, along with McClatchy Publishers, over a story run in the The Fresno Bee about a lawsuit against a winery Nunes' is invested in. At one point, Nunes accuses Bee writer Mackenzie Mays of having bolded specific words in a tweet, a function that Twitter doesn't support. As Intelligencer explains:

The bolded words in the screenshot included in the lawsuit are there because Twitter's search function bolds the search terms when displaying results. (An example: If I search for "donald trump traitor" on Twitter, the site might show me a tweet that looks like "Donald Trump is not a traitor.")



"I want to state that I am not a Republican, I am not a conservative, I am not part of the right wing, I did not vote for Trump, I am not part of the alt-right, I am not interested in politics." That was author Bret Easton Ellis' preamble on his podcast yesterday. Ellis said he doesn't "care enough about" Trump to defend him against allegations of Russian collusion, but his beef is with "the crazy dishonest press" and "being lied to" by members of it. "There is no way to get around the fact that the mainstream media misled the country for the last two years. Period," Ellis added. "I'm not saying that as a conservative, or as a liberal. I'm saying it simply as a witness." These outlets "should be humiliated by what they were perpetrating."


  • Trump is seeking to shut down the bloated and inefficient Office of Personnel Management.
  • Texas is advancing a bill to make women who get abortions guilty of homicide.
  • "One crime, six trials, three tossed convictions, two hung juries, a lot of prosecutorial misconduct, and a man on death row. Those are the dizzying statistics surrounding the case of Curtis Flowers, who is currently awaiting execution for a crime he says he did not commit." More here (from Reason's newest editorial hire, intern–turned–Assistant Editor Billy Binion).
  • "Sheriff's Lt. Jerry Brewer said this was the county's first animal cruelty case involving a fish."
  • Police in Pennsylvania are shocked—shocked!—that the seizure and shutdown of Backpage didn't magically end prostitution.
  • Context matters: