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“Virtually No Path To 271”: The Electoral College Will Be Trump’s Downfall, Even If Clinton Falls Flat

I can say with some satisfaction that I have never underestimated Donald Trump. That’s important. While most every other pundit was writing his political epitaphs, I was predicting early on that Trump or Cruz–and probably Trump–would take the nomination over anyone in the establishment lane. (I also predicted that Sanders would do better against Clinton than most gave him credit for and for similar reasons–a prediction that also more or less came true.) Voters are angry, and angry voters usually try to jolt the system by choosing unpredictable candidates outside the status quo.

So when Hillary Clinton gives a speech to rave reviews that calls Trump “dangerous” and “risky,” I can’t help but roll my eyes. Most voters want dangerous and risky right now, or at least they want someone who won’t just keep doing the same things for the next four years that we’ve been doing for the last two decades. The differences between Bush and Obama are enormous, of course, but a great many Americans on both the right and the left want a greater range of policy options than that on offer by the centers of the two parties.

So it’s entirely possible that Trump could end up doing better against Clinton than almost anyone suspects, even without an exogenous event like a recession or terrorist attack. But I wouldn’t go so far as to predict even a decent likelihood of a Trump victory.

The problem for Trump isn’t that he couldn’t possibly win the popular vote. The problem is that he has virtually no path to 271 in the electoral college. Greg Sargent has more, cribbing from an analysis by Dave Wasserman at FiveThirtyEight:

Wasserman ran a simulation designed to calculate what would happen in 2016, relative to 2012, if whites turned out at the same rate they did in 1992, while assuming that the vote shares of every other group remain constant. The good news for Trump: This really could theoretically bring in some nine million additional white voters, which could be enough for him to win the national popular vote (again, assuming that everything else remained consistent with 2012).

But here’s the catch: Wasserman finds, remarkably, that “these ‘missing’ white voters disproportionately live in states that won’t matter in a close presidential race.” In only three battleground states — Florida, Ohio, and Nevada — would full activation of these “missing” white voters be enough to potentially make a difference. But even in Ohio and Nevada, Trump would still have to win whites by overwhelming margins to overcome Obama’s 2012 edge in those states.

Of course, even that analysis is overly kind to Trump, who has no prayer of reaching Romney’s 2012 totals among minority voters in a country that has gotten significantly browner since then.

It’s not at all clear how Trump or the GOP plan to deal with this problem. No matter how you slice it, Democrats are almost a lock to win the White House even if their presidential candidate is struggling. The blue wall remains virtually unassailable even for a Republican with some crossover appeal along race and gender lines–and Trump is definitely not that. If the election were held today, either Clinton or Sanders would demolish Trump in the electoral college in a landslide.

And about that popular vote total? That’s not looking too good for Trump, either, as the latest national poll puts Clinton up by 10 points on the presumptive GOP nominee.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible for Clinton to lose. But it does mean that Trump would have to do something miraculous to beat her.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 4, 2016

June 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Electoral Colege, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Just Aren’t Large Enough Of A Group”: The Bad News For Trump About Under-Engaged White Voters

A big part of the hope and fear partisans have about Donald Trump’s general election prospects is that his atavistic message of resentment toward elites and uppity women and minorities will not only win a big majority of white voters, but will boost white turnout as well. Sean Trende’s famous “missing white voters” hypothesis for one of Mitt Romney’s fatal defects suggests that marginal white voters tend to be the kind of people who voted for Ross Perot in 1992 — a peak year in white turnout. Trende has subsequently confirmed that the same kind of white voters have been turning out for Trump in the GOP primaries. But are there enough of them to make a difference, particularly given Trump’s big problems with minority voters?

At FiveThirtyEight, David Wasserman takes a close look at this question and arrives at an ambivalent conclusion:

The good news for Trump is that nationally, there’s plenty of room for white turnout to improve. If non-Hispanic whites had turned out at the same rate in 2012 that they did in 1992, there would have been 8.8 million additional white voters — far more than Obama’s 5 million-vote margin of victory. But before Democrats panic, here’s the catch, and it’s a doozy for Trump: These “missing” white voters disproportionately live in states that won’t matter in a close presidential race.

Between 1992 and 2012, white turnout dropped from 71 percent to 63 percent in the 38 non-Electoral College battleground states. There were huge double-digit declines in relatively Perot-friendly places such as Alaska, upstate New York and Utah. But in the 12 key battleground states, white turnout dropped more modestly, from 69 percent to 66 percent. There was virtually no white drop-off in Pennsylvania, and white turnout increased in New Hampshire and Virginia.

This makes sense if you think about it for a minute. If the “missing white voters” are basically marginal voters, they’re less likely to bother to vote in states where their votes “don’t count” in the sense of affecting the outcome. Meanwhile, the same voters are more likely to show up at the polls in highly competitive states where their votes do count, and where, moreover, they are the object of all the dark arts of base mobilization.

The bigger problem for Trump, as Wasserman notes, is that it’s by no means clear Trump’s going to win all the votes cast for Mitt Romney, much less add on many millions of marginal white voters in the right places.  He’s got a real problem with college-educated white women, and in some polls isn’t doing all that well with college-educated white men. And that’s aside from the strong possibility that he’s going to do even worse than Romney with minority voters, who in any case are likely to continue to become a larger percentage of the electorate this November.

It all goes to reinforce the most important single insight I can offer to those all caught up in slicing and dicing the electorate: a vote is a vote, and running up the score in one demographic doesn’t mean squat if it’s offset by losses in another, especially in battleground states. And it’s another sign that Trump’s angry non-college-educated white men just aren’t large enough of a group to win the election for him, particularly if turning them out requires the kind of over-the-top borderline-racist-and-sexist histrionics that tend to mobilize the opposition as well.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 3, 2016

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, White Male Voters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Suckering The Press Corps”: Romney Says He’s Winning; It’s A Bluff And A Confidence Game

In recent days, the vibe emanating from Mitt Romney’s campaign has grown downright giddy. Despite a lack of any evident positive momentum over the last week — indeed, in the face of a slight decline from its post-Denver high — the Romney camp is suddenly bursting with talk that it will not only win but win handily. (“We’re going to win,” said one of the former Massachusetts governor’s closest advisers. “Seriously, 305 electoral votes.”)

This is a bluff. Romney is carefully attempting to project an atmosphere of momentum, in the hopes of winning positive media coverage and, thus, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Over the last week, Romney’s campaign has orchestrated a series of high-profile gambits in order to feed its momentum narrative. Last week, for instance, Romney’s campaign blared out the news that it was pulling resources out of North Carolina. The battleground was shifting! Romney on the offensive! On closer inspection, it turned out that Romney was shifting exactly one staffer. It is true that Romney leads in North Carolina, and it is probably his most favorable battleground state. But the decision to have a staffer move out of state, with a marching band and sound trucks in tow to spread the news far and wide, signals a deliberate strategy to create a narrative.

Also last week, Paul Ryan held a rally in Pittsburgh. Romney moving in to Pennsylvania! On the offensive! Skeptical reporters noted that Ryan’s rally would bleed into the media coverage in southeast Ohio and that Romney was not devoting any real money to Pennsylvania. Romney’s campaign keeps leaking that it is planning to spend money there. (Today’s leak: “Republicans are genuinely intrigued by the prospect of a strike in Pennsylvania and, POLITICO has learned, are considering going up on TV there outside the expensive Philadelphia market.” Note the noncommittal terms: intrigued and considering.) The story also floats Romney’s belief that, since Pennsylvania has no early voting, it can postpone its planned, any-day-now move into Pennsylvania until the end. This allows Romney to keep the Pennsylvania bluff going until, what, a couple of days before the election?

Karl Rove employed exactly this strategy in 2000. As we now know, the race was excruciatingly close, and Al Gore won the national vote by half a percentage point. But at the time, Bush projected a jaunty air of confidence. Rove publicly predicted Bush would win 320 electoral votes. Bush even spent the final days stumping in California, supposedly because he was so sure of victory he wanted an icing-on-the-cake win in a deep blue state. Campaign reporters generally fell for Bush’s spin, portraying him as riding the winds of momentum and likewise presenting Al Gore as desperate.

The current landscape is slightly different. The race is also very close, but Obama enjoys a clear electoral college lead. He is ahead by at least a couple points in enough states to make him president. Adding to his base of uncontested states, Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin would give Obama 271 electoral votes. According to the current polling averages compiled at fivethirtyeight.com, Obama leads Nevada by 3.5 percent, Ohio by 2.9 percent, and Wisconsin by 4 percent. Should any of those fail, Virginia and Colorado are nearly dead even. (Obama leads by 0.7 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively.) If you don’t want to rely on Nate Silver — and you should rely on him! — the polling averages at realclearpolitics, the conservative-leaning site, don’t differ much, either.

If you look closely at the boasts emanating from Romney’s allies, you can detect a lot of hedging and weasel-words. Rob Portman calls Ohio a “dead heat,” which is a way of calling a race close without saying it’s tied. A Romney source tells Mike Allen that Wisconsin leans their way owing to Governor Scott Walker’s “turnout operation.” That is campaign speak for “we’re not winning, but we hope to make it up through turnout.”

Obama’s lead is narrow — narrow enough that the polling might well be wrong and Romney could win. But he is leading, his lead is not declining, and the widespread perception that Romney is pulling ahead is Romney’s campaign suckering the press corps with a confidence game.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intel, October 23, 2012

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Purpose Driven Lies”: Crocodile Tears From The Koch Brothers

They may say otherwise, but the evidence is clear: Republicans had no interest in Obama’s success.

The latest campaign from Americans for Prosperity—the Koch-funded conservative group—is a $7 million ad buy meant to highlight the disappointment of various Obama supporters. The commercial, which runs for one minute, will air on broadcast and cable in 11 battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. CNN has a few excerpts:

“I had hoped that the new president would bring new jobs–not major layoffs, not people going through major foreclosures on their homes,” one woman says in the ad.

Another voter adds: “He said he was going to cut the deficit in his first term. I’ve seen zero interest in reducing spending. He inherited a bad situation, but he made it worse.”

Piling on, a third voter says: “I still believe in hope and change. I just don’t think Obama is the way to go for that.”

At the Washington Post, Greg Sargent calls this an “emerging GOP tactic for dealing with Obama’s personal popularity.” He paraphrases, “We didn’t want Obama to fail; we shared his high hopes for his presidency; but …”

If Republicans go this route, I hope reporters take a page from Michael Grunwald, who details GOP obstruction of the stimulus in his just-released book The New New Deal, and reveals the extent to which the GOP never intended to work with Obama, regardless of what he did. This anecdote is typical of how Republicans approached Obama from the beginning of his administration:

In early January, the House Republican leadership team held a retreat at an Annapolis inn. Pete Sessions, the new campaign chair, opened his presentation with the political equivalent of an existential question:

“If the purpose of the Majority is to Govern…What is Our Purpose?” […]

“The Purpose of the Minority is to become the Majority.”

The team’s goal would not be promoting Republican policies, or stopping Democratic policies, or even making Democratic bills less offensive to Republicans. Its goal would be taking the gavel back from Speaker Pelosi.

“That is the entire Conference’s Mission,” Sessions wrote.

Grunwald shows how Republicans developed a strategy of maximum obstruction before Obama even took office, and stuck to it throughout the first two years of his presidency. As this election unfolds, conservatives will try to mournfully attack Obama, as if they wanted him to succeed.

They’re lying.

 

By: Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect, August 15, 2012

August 16, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Offshored And Outsourced”: Mitt Romney’s Bain problem

While the Supreme Court’s upholding of the health-care law was last week’s most important event in historical terms, it will not be the decisive event of the 2012 election. In the long run, polling in swing states suggesting that Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital is hurting him could have larger implications for where this campaign will move.

It’s certainly true that had the court knocked down President Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the defeat would have been woven into a narrative of ineffectual leadership and mistaken priorities. Instead, the president found vindication not only from the court’s liberals but also from Chief Justice John Roberts.

But precisely because the decision saved the president from disaster on health care, it only reinforced the importance of the economic argument Obama and Romney have been having for months. And here is where Romney’s Bain problem kicks in.

As Democrats, mostly from Washington and New York, debated the efficacy of attacks on Romney’s role in Bain, an entirely different conversation was being driven in the swing states, courtesy of ads broadcast by the Obama campaign and especially by Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama super PAC. The ads portray highly sympathetic workers who lost their jobs and companies that collapsed even as Bain’s principals made substantial profits.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last week provided surprisingly dramatic evidence of how much these commercials are wounding Romney.

In the country as a whole, 23 percent said they viewed Romney more positively because of his experience “managing a firm that specializes in buying, restructuring and selling companies,” while 28 percent said this made them view Romney more negatively. But in this year’s 12 battleground states, many of which have gotten a heavy run of the anti-Bain ads, only 18 percent viewed Romney’s business experience positively; 33 percent viewed it negatively. Obama led Romney by three points nationally but by eight in the battlegrounds.

This is disturbing news for Romney, who hoped his business experience would be an unalloyed asset. The numbers also underscore voter resistance to the core conservative claim that job creation is primarily about rewarding wealthy investors and companies through further tax cuts and less regulation. Americans are not anti-business, but they are skeptical that everything that is good for corporations is also good for their employees, and for job creation itself.

The Bain ads have done double-duty, specifically undermining Romney but also serving as a parable for how aspects of the current financial system hurt workers and local communities. Profits and productivity can rise even as real wages stagnate or fall, and jobs can be offshored and outsourced. The Romney campaign’s response to a recent Washington Post story describing Bain’s record on outsourcing — the campaign sought to “differentiate between domestic outsourcing versus offshoring” — sounded more like bureaucratic gobbledygook than an effective answer. Obama picked up on the story immediately, calling Romney an “outsourcing pioneer.”

But can the Obama campaign turn the argument over Romney and Bain into a broader challenge to the Republican claim that the only thing government can do to spur job creation is to get out of the way? “Jobs” will remain the Romney battle cry for the rest of the campaign, but the success of the anti-Bain offensive points to an opportunity for Obama to engage in a kind of political jujitsu. He can argue that Romney’s primary interest is not in job creation at all but in low-tax and deregulatory policies he would favor whether the economy was soaring or flat.

In a recent talk at the Center for American Progress, Stefan Löfven, the new leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, outlined a way to turn the debate around, arguing that job creation worldwide should be the focus of center-left parties. New policies on job creation should also be concerned with the quality and conditions of the jobs, how quickly the unemployed can be moved to new work and how the unemployed are treated and assisted toward new opportunities.

Here are the questions voters should be encouraged to ask in 2012: Should government focus directly on innovative approaches to creating good jobs in a new economy? Or should it be relegated to a position of powerlessness in which its only option is to concede ever more benefits to those — including the financial wizards at Bain — who are already doing very well indeed?

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, July 1, 2012

July 2, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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