Is Xenophobia the Dominant Motivation in the WV Republican Electorate?

As widely noted, Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship has recently (starting on May 3) verbally targeted “China people” and McConnell’s “China family”. I wondered whether such appeals to atavistic fears would work in 2018. Prediction markets seem to suggest the answer is “yes”.

Source: PredictIt, accessed 5/8 9AM Pacific.

As an economist, I do wonder how Senator McConnell has created “millions of jobs for China people”.

29 thoughts on “Is Xenophobia the Dominant Motivation in the WV Republican Electorate?

    1. pgl

      “The company grew, in part by contracting with the U.S. government to ship rice to Vietnam during the Vietnam War and with the United Nations to bring humanitarian cargo to Bangladesh during that country’s civil war. It also experienced a brief moment of notoriety in 2014, when The Nation reported that Colombian authorities had seized about 90 pounds of cocaine from Foremost’s Ping May, finding the drugs inside a shipment of coal bound for Europe. (The company declined to comment to the Nation.)”

      Oh yea – cocaine Mitch. I guess it was Mitch that arranged the export of coal to Europe? Of course what this has to do with China is beyond me.

    2. Menzie Chinn Post author

      pgl: Believe me, I am no fan of Elaine Chao as either Transportation secretary or her previous incarnation as Labor secretary. I just don’t see how McConnell created millions of jobs for “China people”. Can anyone explain it to me?

      1. pgl

        According to this source the Asian population in the great state of Kentucky is only 50,000:

        Not that all Asians are from China but with some redneck from West Virginia, may it is “all Asians look alike”. And I’m sure PeakTrader will be elated that every Kentucky Asian including the kids are all working 20 jobs a piece. Hey someone has to be support for their college basketball programs!

          1. PeakTrader

            Menzie Chinn, I wouldn’t put all Asians in the same category:

            “Southeast Asian immigrants including Cambodians, Laotians and Vietnamese have markedly low college-going rates…38 percent have less than a high school degree, about 25 percentage points lower than both the Asian-American and U.S. averages.”


            Two or three families buying and moving into one middle class house in California may be a good way to avoid poverty, and other problems in a worse neighborhood. The greatest population of Vietnamese is in Garden Grove and Westminster California, where neighborhoods are above average.

          2. pgl

            Which is odd because having several families in one house keeps the demand for housing low. Peaky is angry that California housing prices are so high. He is confused not just on the basic facts but also the basic economics!

          3. PeakTrader

            Pgl, housing prices in California aren’t low. However, more families or people living in houses adds to overcrowding.

            I guess, California being a sanctuary state wants hundreds of millions of people to flee their countries and move into California. Isn’t that nice of the liberal/socialists.

          4. 2slugbaits

            PeakTrader more families or people living in houses adds to overcrowding

            So why don’t you move to somewhere else? If people are moving into California, then obviously they are moving out of some other place. Why not go there? Do you need help packing your things?

          5. PeakTrader

            2slugbaits, instead of turning California into a Banana Republic, why don’t you move to one?

            I hear Venezuela weather is nice this time of year.

          6. 2slugbaits

            PeakTrader I’m not the one complaining about overcrowding in California. You are; therefore, you’re the one who should move somewhere else if living alongside “those people” bothers you that much.

            As to living in a banana republic like Venezuela, that sounds like the kind of place you’d like. You know, corrupt white guys running plantations. Bank fraud run rampant. Strong man caudillo style leaders like Trump.

          7. PeakTrader

            2slugbaits, most Americans don’t want open borders, including many of who you call “those people.”

            Is there any money left in the banks, after the socialists got through with them?

            There are plenty of “corrupt white guys running plantations” here – you’ll find them in the liberal elites, who turn up their noses on the working class, when not thumbing their noses at laws they don’t like and the constitution.

          8. Moses Herzog

            @ Menzie
            Your off distant Dave Letterman genes are showing through again (or would you prefer comparison to Zhao Benshan??) You got a significantly audible laugh out of me on that one. I believe the teen girls call it “LOL”?? The best humor often has a thick grain of truth running straight through the middle. 5 stars.

      2. pgl

        Brad Setser has a great line recently on trade with China:

        “It wouldn’t even be possible if Apple joined Samsung and started to assemble (or hire contract manufacturers to assemble) the bulk of its smart phones in Vietnam (probably the easiest way to shift the bilateral balance around).”
        This was just a tidbit in a really long and informative discussion. But it got me looking at this:

        What stood out was that cell phone exports from China to the US are now classified as a household good (rather than the telecommunications or other codes) and this figure surprised $70 billion in 2017. Maybe Mitch McConnell personally made sure Foxconn did not move its operations to Vietnam? Of course Brad’s point is that the value-added from assembling these phones is likely only $5 billion as China imports around $65 billion in components used in the assembly.

      3. Moses Herzog

        @ Menzie
        I think this is what they call the “throw crap up against the wall and see if it sticks” genre of campaign strategy. It doesn’t have to be true, it just has to stick to the surface of the wall.

  1. baffling

    recent work in pnas indicates the trump phenomena is related to whites afraid of losing their privileged status as a majority. i guess xenophobia would play a part in this, although it would explain why so many trump supporters do not identify as racist or bigoted, when their behavior indicates otherwise. the work also showed it was not bad economics that drew the trump crowd, even though there is a strong narrative out there that trump of supported by the left behinds. i think it appears more likely, he was supported by those afraid of being left behind by a changing demographic.

    1. pgl

      China Energy Investment Corporation is a state-owned mining and energy company administrated by SASAC for the State Council of the People’s Republic of China.

      Direct foreign investment in the U.S. from China is a good thing for us and likely a wise investment by the Chinese government. Of course PeakyBoo is going to hate this as when he flees California out of fear of living next to an Asian (see the latest nonsense from him), West Virginia may not be a good option for him either. Maybe Peaky would enjoy living in Utah.

  2. noneconomist

    At one time, West Virginia persons (native and proud to be so), had only to worry about Catholics and Jews. We had defeated Japan persons as we had German persons. We were then able to turn our attention to the real enemies of the republic: that would be your Catholic persons and your Jew persons.
    Then, wouldn’t you know? A bunch of people–hard working Democrats–went and voted for JFK and got him elected. The rest is history. Or was, until some current natives discovered China persons lurking in the ocean mists. Led by Cocaine Mitch and his China person wife who are personally creating plenty of jobs for other China persons rather than Kentucky and West Virginia persons. The shame of it all.

  3. rakesh

    two data points Hillary crushed Obama by a huge margin in her primary, Obama lost his primary ( reelection ) to a felon res ipsa loquiter

  4. Moses Herzog

    I think the Chinese have something called “losing face”. I’m pretty certain about this because I spent 7 years in China. Most Chinese either called me “Laowai” in very disgusted and repulsed tones (with a small subtext of resentment for added seasoning), or my closer friends called me Moses “Always Loses Face” Herzog (only semi-joking on that one). But I think the main emotion Americans should feel at looking at that graph Menzie shared above is deep deep shame, or what Chinese call “losing face”, and roughly half a music beat later, do the dreaded “face-palm”. See links below for proper technique used in the full three stages:

  5. CoRev

    What a light weight article with even worse comments. Menzie, picks the loser in a primary to write about, but the underlying issue is Democrats failure to understand why their issues and candidates are losing/losers. Here’s a hint:
    “Morrisey beats Blankenship, Jenkins in West Virginia’s GOP primary ”
    A pull quote: “When the election results were announced, McConnell’s Twitter account posted a picture of a smiling McConnell with the message, “Thanks for playing, @DonBlankenship.” In the image, McConnell’s face appears on the body of a character from the Netflix series “Narcos,” surrounded by what appears to be cocaine.”
    Yes, Dems thanks for playing. See you in Nov.

    1. Moses Herzog

      Well, how can one argue with someone who reads for his political insight???

      Did I just take a F’ing time machine to 1996?? Is Steve Ballmer going to pop out of some birthday cake blowing a party horn at Hamburger Mary’s??

  6. Julian Silk

    Dear Menzie,

    Well, apparently not, since he lost the primary. Unless you want to suggest the Russians hacked the West Virginia voting, it looks like this wasn’t the case.


      1. baffling

        20% is a lot, considering blankenship is not nearly as smooth of a talker as others. and how many of those voters would have voted for blankenship had he actually won the primary and been in the general election? probably a lot of them. but my guess is being a convicted criminal may have been too much for some of those voters. and don’t forget the trump effect-he came out against voting for blankenship right before the election. not because he was a bigot, but because trump did not think he could compete in the general election.

      2. ilsm

        Blankenship was not Trump’s choice, he tweeted Blank could not win……

        I do not know that Trump opposed Blankenship’s sentiment.

      3. Moses Herzog

        @ Menzie
        “Alarming” maybe fits, but I would say shameful is the word that engulfs my mind.

        Is this 20% a “surprising number”?? Maybe not, but it’s kinda like an ugly birthmark or mole on someone’s body. It’s one thing when you know it’s there hiding under some clothes. But if it’s a goiter on your neck, like, that’s not 20% of your body, but there’s no getting around seeing that in the mirror every morning. And that Friday night date is starting to look pretty hopeless. That’s what Trump has become for this country, a BIG *SS goiter you have to look at in the mirror every day.

        And let’s not forget “our” pedo judge that ran for Senate down in Alabama. He got WAY over 20%. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for the intelligence of southern Republican voters either. Which speaks worse of Republicans, “conservatives” who run out to vote for a bigot, or “conservatives” who run out to vote for a pedo??—you make the call.

  7. joseph

    Don’t forget that Trump endorsed and enthusiastically campaigned for Roy Moore. If Blankenship had won the primary, Trump would have done the same for him in the general election.

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