David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a research and consulting firm specializing in politics and consumer technology.

Recent Articles

The Prisoner’s Dilemma: Why Democrats Should Block Gorsuch

In a rational political system, Democrats might keep their powder dry in the Supreme Court battle. But Republican extremism has made resistance Democrats’ only option.

(Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
(Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite) Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is escorted by former New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte on the way to a meeting with Senator Ted Cruz on February 2, 2017.\ I n 1950, two mathematicians at the RAND Corporation created a now-famous game called " Prisoner's Dilemma ." A study in the incentives of cooperation and resistance, it is now very relevant to Democrats trying to determine how to respond to President Trump's nomination of conservative jurist Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. The game's setup goes like this: Two prisoners are being held in solitary confinement with no means of communicating with one another. Prison officials, lacking enough evidence on a major charge to convict either, but confident of conviction on a minor charge, offer each of them a deal to snitch on the other. If both prisoners refuse to betray one another, each gets a year in prison on the lesser charge. If both snitch, each serves two years. But if one cooperates with...

Trump May Be Sexist and Racist, But That’s Not the Only Reason He Won

Economic anxiety drove many of Donald Trump’s working-class voters, a bloc Democrats failed to energize amid plunging turnout overall.

AP Photo/John Locher
AP Photo/John Locher Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Monday, February 22, 2016, in Las Vegas. E lection Day was an ugly victory for racism, sexism, and bigotry over harmony, inclusion, and decency. But the exit polling and electoral returns show that Donald Trump owes his improbable win less to prejudice and intolerance than to visceral populist anger that went unnoticed or unheeded by far too many Democrats. First, the numbers. Despite Trump’s overt sexism and racism, he managed to win over many women and Latinos. White women, for example, voted for Trump over Clinton by a ten-point margin, according to CNN’s exit polling . Depending on which exit poll you believe, Trump may also have won anywhere from 19 percent to an astonishing 29 percent of the Latino vote, despite his virulently anti-Latino rhetoric. Clinton’s supposed bulwark among college-educated voters also failed: White college graduates backed Trump by a 4-point margin, including...

Racism Alone Doesn’t Explain Trump’s Support, Which Also Reflects Economic Anxiety

It’s become popular these days to blame Trump’s rise on bigotry and racial animus alone, but that diagnosis misses the important role played by economic anxiety.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
AP Photo/Evan Vucci Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens as he speaks during a campaign rally, Thursday, November 3, 2016, in Concord, North Carolina. A curious consensus is emerging to explain the rise of Donald Trump and the loyalty of his voters. The argument seems to be that Trump’s success is due not to his apostasy from traditional Republican positions on trade and other economic policies, but rather to pure bigotry and racial animus. This position has taken hold in circles that include such prominent analysts as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman , and Matt Yglesias and Dylan Matthews , both of Vox , among others . It has even become a running joke on social media to highlight a prejudiced statement by a Trump supporter, and add the ironic caption “economic anxiety!” The contrasting view, shared by The New Republic ’s Brian Beutler (who started the joke), Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum , and Tory Newmayer , at Fortune , is that both racism and...

Hostility Awaits Clinton

Donald Trump’s increasingly conspiracy-laden rhetoric is setting the stage for an unusually antagonistic relationship between congressional Republicans and a prospective President Clinton.

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens as vice presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine speaks during a campaign event at the Taylor Allderdice High School, Saturday, October 22, 2016, in Pittsburgh. H ouse Republicans long ago made clear that, should Hillary Clinton win the Oval Office, she would not enjoy the “honeymoon” period that Congress traditionally offers incoming presidents. If anything, GOP lawmakers seem determined to create a more hostile environment for a new administration than any in recent memory. Clinton often made the case during the primary that she would be better equipped than Sanders to work with Congress, but GOP lawmakers do not look prepared to give her much of a chance—even if she manages to win by a substantial margin in November. Congressional Republicans have already sought to block President Obama at every turn. Given the anti-Clinton acrimony that Donald Trump has ginned up among increasingly extremist GOP...

Why Millennials Don’t Like Clinton—And What She Can Do About It

Hillary Clinton’s support from millennial voters has dropped sharply since August, a problem that she needs to address even more aggressively to hold onto this key bloc of voters.

(Photo: Sipa USA via AP/Monica Jorge)
(Photo: Sipa USA via AP/Monica Jorge) Hillary Clinton gives a speech focused on millennials at Temple University in Philadelphia on September 19. Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, holds a Millennial focused speech in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at Temple University on Monday, September 19, 2016, 50 days before the presidential election. (Photo by Monica Jorge) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field *** (Sipa via AP Images) H illary Clinton has long struggled with younger voters, but the problem now threatens to cost her the election. Clinton’s address to millennials this week underscored her awareness of how crucial they are to her chances in November. But her support from voters ages 18 to 35 has declined by double digits since August, raising an urgent question for Democrats: Why are millennial voters so reluctant to embrace Clinton? On the surface, Clinton should do well with younger voters. Millennials are the most progressive generation in America, and Hillary Clinton’s...

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