[Vision2020] Electoral Disaster Looming for Trump

Nicholas Gier ngier006 at gmail.com
Sun Apr 3 15:15:04 PDT 2016

New York Times, April 2

Donald J. Trump
presidential candidacy has stunned the Republican Party
But if he survives a late revolt by his rivals and other leaders to become
the party’s standard-bearer in the general election, the electoral map now
coming into view is positively forbidding.

In recent head-to-head polls with one Democrat whom Mr. Trump may face in
the fall, Hillary Clinton, he trails in every key state, including Florida
and Ohio, despite her soaring unpopularity ratings with swing voters.

In Democratic-leaning states across the Rust Belt, which Mr. Trump has
vowed to return to the Republican column for the first time in nearly 30
years, his deficit is even worse: Mrs. Clinton leads him by double digits
in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Mr. Trump is so negatively viewed, polls suggest, that he could turn
otherwise safe Republican states, usually political afterthoughts because
of their strong conservative tilt, into tight contests. In Utah, his deep
unpopularity with Mormon voters suggests that a state that has gone
Republican every election for a half-century could wind up in play.
Republicans there pointed to a much-discussed Deseret News poll
last month, showing Mrs. Clinton with a narrow lead over Mr. Trump, to
argue that the state would be difficult for him.

Horse-race polls this early are poor predictors of election results, and
candidates have turned around public opinion before. And the country’s
politics have become so sharply polarized that no major-party contender is
likely to come near the 49-state defeats suffered by Democrats in 1972
<http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/showelection.php?year=1972> and 1984

But without an extraordinary reversal — or the total collapse of whoever
becomes his general-election opponent — Mr. Trump could be hard-pressed to
win more than 200 of the 270 electoral votes required to win.
Mr. Trump has become unacceptable, perhaps irreversibly so, to broad swaths
of Americans, including large majorities of women, nonwhites, Hispanics,
voters under 30 and those with college degrees — the voters who powered
President Obama’s two victories and represent the country’s demographic
future. All view him unfavorably by a 2-to-1 margin, according to a recent
In some states, Mr. Trump has surprised establishment-aligned Republicans
with his breadth of support beyond the less-educated men who form his base.
Even so, his support in the nominating process, in which some 30 million
people may ultimately vote, would be swamped in a general election, when
turnout is likely to be four times that.

“We’re talking about somebody who has the passionate devotion of a minority
and alternately scares, appalls, angers — or all of the above — a majority
of the country,” said Henry Olsen, a conservative analyst. “This isn’t
anything but a historic election defeat just waiting to happen.”

What could ensure a humiliating loss for Mr. Trump in November are his
troubles with constituencies that have favored Republicans in recent
elections. Among independents, a group that Mitt Romney carried even as he lost
to President Obama in 2012
Mr. Trump would begin the fall campaign at a considerable disadvantage: 19
percent have a favorable opinion of him, but 57 percent view him
unfavorably, the Times/CBS survey found. Given his loathed standing among
Democrats and the possibility that many in his own party would spurn him,
Mr. Trump would need to invert his numbers among independents to even be
competitive in November.

With white women, a bloc Mr. Romney easily won even in defeat, Mr. Trump is
nearly as unpopular: 23 percent view him favorably, while 54 percent have
an unfavorable opinion of him. And that was before Mr. Trump attacked
Senator Ted Cruz’s wife
ridiculed a female reporter against whom Mr. Trump’s campaign manager
was charged
with committing battery
and suggested that women who have abortions should face criminal punishment
before reversing himself.

Mr. Trump’s penchant to offend and his household-name celebrity are a
potentially lethal combination, as most voters have both firm and deeply
negative opinions of him. His incendiary comments about minorities and the
disabled, and proposals to bar Muslims
from entering the United States or to force Mexico to pay for a wall
on the southern border, have resounded so widely that half of all voters
said they would be scared if he were elected president, according to the
Times/CBS poll.

“There is no precedent for this,” said Neil Newhouse, a veteran Republican
pollster. “In the modern polling era, since around World War II, there
hasn’t been a more unpopular potential presidential nominee than Donald
Graphic: How Trump Could Be Blocked at a Contested Republican Convention

Stan Greenberg, the longtime Democratic pollster, released a survey Friday
summing up Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities under the headline, “Earthquake?”
Mr. Trump trails Mrs. Clinton by 23 points among women in Mr. Greenberg’s
poll, suggesting the possibility of a gender gap of historic proportions.
(The Times survey last month had Mrs. Clinton leading by 20 points among
women.) The largest gender gap in the last 36 years was Bob Dole’s 11-point
among women against Bill Clinton in 1996.

“His gains with men have been neutralized with women,” Mr. Greenberg said
of Mr. Trump. “There’s no play here. The math just doesn’t work.”

Nationally, Mrs. Clinton leads Mr. Trump by about 10 percentage points in
most head-to-head polls — the widest margin at this point in a presidential
campaign in 16 years.

If Mrs. Clinton somehow loses the Democratic race — unlikely given her
delegate advantage — Mr. Trump could fare even worse in a general election
against Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has higher margins than Mrs.
Clinton in head-to-head polling against Mr. Trump in most swing states.

Even among the working-class whites, who have been the foundation of his
success in the Republican primaries, Mr. Trump would enter the general
election with substantial difficulties. He is viewed unfavorably by a
majority of whites without college degrees, according to an ABC
News/Washington Post poll
early last month.

It is possible that Mr. Trump could improve his standing with blue-collar
voters who are crucial in Rust Belt states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin,
where polls now show him faring worse than Mr. Romney did in 2012. But
doing so would not be cost-free.

“By leaning into white grievance politics, you give back whatever gains you
made as you move up the economic scale,” said Liam Donovan, a Republican
strategist who has written extensively on Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities.
“There just aren’t enough votes left in the places where Trump could be
strong, like rural areas, to offset the vote-rich places where Trump
Or, as Mr. Olsen put it, referring to Michigan: “If you bring in 30,000
blue-collar voters from Flint, but you lose 50,000 from suburban Detroit,
you’ve not helped yourself very much.”

This losing trade-off has been largely overlooked because of Mr. Trump’s
success so far and the failure of more affluent Republican primary voters
to unite behind any of his rivals.

But the general-election universe is vastly larger and more diverse than
the Republican primary electorate. There are likely to be around 30 million
votes in this year’s Republican primary once all 56 states and territories
finish voting in June. In the 2012 contest between Mr. Obama and Mr.
Romney, about 129 million voters cast ballots.

“You’re talking about a significantly more conservative, partisan, older
and whiter group of voters than the general electorate,” Mr. Newhouse said.
“It’s like night and day.”

Mr. Trump’s hopes rest largely on his energizing a coalition of the
disaffected: millions of people who have not voted in recent elections but
who have found in Mr. Trump someone giving voice to their anger. High
primary turnouts have fed speculation that Mr. Trump could lure back the
so-called missing white voters — populist-minded Americans thought to have
skipped the 2012 presidential election, and who, depending on their
numbers, offer a glimmer of hope for many conservatives in an era of
unfavorable demographic shifts.

But Mr. Trump cannot count on such a surge. The actual number of missing
white voters is quite low in the closely contested states, where turnout
remained high or even rose in 2012.

Moreover, there is scant evidence that white voters who did stay home would
be inclined to support Mr. Trump. In fact, they were far younger and much
more likely to be registered Democrats than the white voters who did turn
out, according to the census and data from L2, a nonpartisan voter file


A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.

-Greek proverb

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.

--Immanuel Kant
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