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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

“The Fake GOP Engagement Advantage”: Be Aware GOP, The Tide Will Come In And The Shoreline Will Move Against You

Why would Republicans be paying more attention to the presidential election than Democrats at this stage of the game? That’s not very hard to answer.

The most obvious reason is that they don’t have the White House right now and they haven’t had it since January 20th, 2008, when George W. Bush left office. Democrats simply aren’t craving what they already have, and it’s going to take them a while to focus on what they might lose.

That’s a cyclically-dependent variable, but there are others that are persistent, and still others that seem specific to this particular season.

As the electorate has sorted, older voters have trended Republican and younger voters have trended Democratic. Older voters read more newspapers, watch more television news, engage in more political activity outside the home, and vote more often in all elections than young voters.

There has also been a big difference between the parties in the nominating contests. The Republicans had eleventy-billion candidates, no certainty or even much consensus about who the winner might be, and the highly unusual (and famous) Donald Trump adding an entertainment value that could be enjoyed by even the least politically minded people. The Democrats have had (really) only two candidates, much less overall media coverage, and a presumed nominee from beginning to end.

Now, it should be a worrying sign to the Democrats that Republican engagement has been higher, and we’ve seen this not just in survey results but in the ratings for debates and in the voter turnout numbers in the primaries and caucuses.

But, I’m willing to argue that this should probably be of more concern to the Republicans. Despite Trump trending up in the most recent polls, his overall prospects look dim. And where is the room for growth?

Consider that Gallup finds that about twice as many people over fifty years of age are following the election “very closely” as are people under thirty. That number will begin to close and it will continue to narrow straight on through to Election Day. Consider, also, that 45% of whites claim to be watching the presidential election carefully while only 27% of nonwhites say the same.

Gallup says a central challenge for Democrats is to fix this disparity in engagement, and that’s true. But, with two conventions in July, followed by four debates, and the fall campaign, voter interest will rise automatically, and the Democrats have a lot more disengaged voters who will be coming online without any effort by the DNC or the Clinton campaign.

There’s also a current advantage the Republicans are enjoying in that their nomination is now a settled matter, and they’re consolidating a little earlier than the Democrats. Bringing the Clinton and Sanders camps together will more difficult than usual and will probably be somewhat incomplete, but that schism is minor compared to the one on the Republican side where the Speaker of the House can’t even endorse his own party’s nominee.

So, while the Democrats would probably prefer to see numbers that showed more parity in interest, they shouldn’t be overly concerned about these survey results. The Republicans should be aware that the tide will come in and the shoreline will move against them.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 23, 2016

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, General Election 2016, Republicans | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Consolidating The Same Old GOP Vote”: Is Trump Leading An Intra-Party Coup Rather Than A Political Realignment?

If you want to make a case that Donald Trump can win the presidency in November without huge “black swan” events like another 9/11 or Great Recession, and you don’t buy dumb polls suggesting Trump’s actually very popular among Latinos, then you are driven to one of two intersecting theories. The first is the famous “missing white voters” hypothesis, which suggests that Mitt Romney left millions of votes on the table in 2012, and Trump’s just the guy to bring these voters to the polls. And the second is the theory beloved of some Democratic lefties that as a “populist” Trump’s going to win former Democratic, white, working-class voters alienated by Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street ties.

Politico has, however, done some number-crunching from the GOP primaries and concluded (tentatively, at least) that Trump’s base of support backs neither of the theories of an expanding GOP:

While Trump’s insurgent candidacy has spurred record-setting Republican primary turnout in state after state, the early statistics show that the vast majority of those voters aren’t actually new to voting or to the Republican Party, but rather they are reliable past voters in general elections. They are only casting ballots in a Republican primary for the first time.

If that’s true, then what the Trump candidacy represents is not some realigning event that could change our understanding of the general-election landscape, but simply an intra-party coup that overthrew the dominance of the business-as-usual and conservative-movement Establishments without necessarily adding to the total number of people prepared to vote Republican in November.

Now even if you don’t believe Trump is God’s gift to Democratic GOTV efforts, it’s pretty safe to say he places a cap on the GOP share of minority voters. So at best the general-election polls showing a tightening Trump-Clinton race may be about as good as it gets for the mogul, showing that he’s consolidating the same old GOP vote without materially adding to it.

On the other hand, the Politico analysis could be wrong. But it helps expose the tenuous reasoning behind Trump-can-win scenarios that rely on hoary ideas about hidden majorities and transpartisan “populist” winds that blow up the existing party coalitions. If the typical Trump supporter is someone who has voted for GOP presidential candidates monotonously since the Reagan Administration without necessarily buying into the party’s economic orthodoxy, then that should be terrifying to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but not so much to Democrats.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 17, 2016

May 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Voters, Populism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Truth And Trumpism”: The News Media Should Do All It Can To Resist False Equivalence And Centrification

How will the news media handle the battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? I suspect I know the answer — and it’s going to be deeply frustrating. But maybe, just maybe, flagging some common journalistic sins in advance can limit the damage. So let’s talk about what can and probably will go wrong in coverage — but doesn’t have to.

First, and least harmful, will be the urge to make the election seem closer than it is, if only because a close race makes a better story. You can already see this tendency in suggestions that the startling outcome of the fight for the Republican nomination somehow means that polls and other conventional indicators of electoral strength are meaningless.

The truth, however, is that polls have been pretty good indicators all along. Pundits who dismissed the chances of a Trump nomination did so despite, not because of, the polls, which have been showing a large Trump lead for more than eight months.

Oh, and let’s not make too much of any one poll. When many polls are taken, there are bound to be a few outliers, both because of random sampling error and the biases that can creep into survey design. If the average of recent polls shows a strong lead for one candidate — as it does right now for Mrs. Clinton — any individual poll that disagrees with that average should be taken with large helpings of salt.

A more important vice in political coverage, which we’ve seen all too often in previous elections — but will be far more damaging if it happens this time — is false equivalence.

You might think that this would be impossible on substantive policy issues, where the asymmetry between the candidates is almost ridiculously obvious. To take the most striking comparison, Mr. Trump has proposed huge tax cuts with no plausible offsetting spending cuts, yet has also promised to pay down U.S. debt; meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton has proposed modest spending increases paid for by specific tax hikes.

That is, one candidate is engaged in wildly irresponsible fantasy while the other is being quite careful with her numbers. But beware of news analyses that, in the name of “balance,” downplay this contrast.

This isn’t a new phenomenon: Many years ago, when George W. Bush was obviously lying about his budget arithmetic but nobody would report it, I suggested that if a candidate declared that the earth was flat, headlines would read, “Shape of the Planet: Both Sides Have a Point.” But this year it could be much, much worse.

And what about less quantifiable questions about behavior? I’ve already seen pundits suggest that both presumptive nominees fight dirty, that both have taken the “low road” in their campaigns. For the record, Mr. Trump has impugned his rivals’ manhood, called them liars and suggested that Ted Cruz’s father was associated with J.F.K.’s killer. On her side, Mrs. Clinton has suggested that Bernie Sanders hasn’t done his homework on some policy issues. These things are not the same.

Finally, I can almost guarantee that we’ll see attempts to sanitize the positions and motives of Trump supporters, to downplay the racism that is at the heart of the movement and pretend that what voters really care about are the priorities of D.C. insiders — a process I think of as “centrification.”

That is, after all, what happened after the rise of the Tea Party. I’ve seen claims that Tea Partiers were motivated by Wall Street bailouts, or even that the movement was largely about fiscal responsibility, driven by voters upset about budget deficits.

In fact, there was never a hint that any of these things mattered; if you followed the actual progress of the movement, it was always about white voters angry at the thought that their taxes might be used to help Those People, whether via mortgage relief for distressed minority homeowners or health care for low-income families.

Now I’m seeing suggestions that Trumpism is driven by concerns about political gridlock. No, it isn’t. It isn’t even mainly about “economic anxiety.”

Trump support in the primaries was strongly correlated with racial resentment: We’re looking at a movement of white men angry that they no longer dominate American society the way they used to. And to pretend otherwise is to give both the movement and the man who leads it a free pass.

In the end, bad reporting probably won’t change the election’s outcome, because the truth is that those angry white men are right about their declining role. America is increasingly becoming a racially diverse, socially tolerant society, not at all like the Republican base, let alone the plurality of that base that chose Donald Trump.

Still, the public has a right to be properly informed. The news media should do all it can to resist false equivalence and centrification, and report what’s really going on.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, May 6, 2016

May 8, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Journalists, Media | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Republicans Souring On Their Own Party”: America Hasn’t Disliked The Republican Party This Much Since 1992

A shocking new poll suggests that Donald Trump may actually be hurting the image of the Republican Party. While most assumed that the GOP’s embrace of an openly misogynistic, proudly ignorant pseudo-fascist would improve the party’s standing with minority voters and millennials, Pew Research’s latest survey finds that Republicans’ unfavorable rating is now 62 percent — the highest it’s been in more than two decades.

Back in October, Pew found 37 percent of the country viewed the GOP favorably, while 58 percent saw it in a negative light. Today, those numbers are 33 and 62, respectively. That downturn is driven almost entirely by Republicans souring on their own party: In the current poll, 68 percent of red America views the GOP favorably, down from 79 percent last fall.

Trump is doubtlessly responsible for much of that dip. The GOP front-runner has alienated Republicans who don’t like menstruation jokes and anti-trade populism, while simultaneously encouraging those who do like those things to see the party as a corrupt institution hell-bent on defying their will.

Meanwhile, 61 percent of Hispanics and 79 percent of African-Americans have a negative view of the Party of Lincoln, while majorities in both groups approve of Democrats. Even white people are losing their taste for elephant, with 58 percent giving the GOP a thumbs-down. The party’s friendliest audience is whites without college degrees — and 52 percent of them don’t like Republicans.

America isn’t crazy about Democrats either. Half of the country views Team Blue unfavorably, while 45 percent approve. And a full quarter of the American public says, “A pox on both their houses.”

Still, Republicans are in a much worse place than their friends across the aisle. The last time 62 percent of the country disliked the GOP was 1992. Oddly enough, that was also the last time a (non-incumbent) Democrat named Clinton won the White House.

 

By: Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, April 28, 2016

April 29, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Republican Voters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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