The Democratic and Republican parties now both have presumptive nominees and the Libertarian party has confirmed that their nominee is former governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson (Johnson was also the Libertarian nominee in 2012). Despite having less than 40% name recognition Johnson has been getting as much as 11% of the vote since he became the nominee. I suspect this has little to do with him and a lot to do with the unpopularity of the presumptive nominees of the two main parties – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Both have historically high unfavourability ratings and many voters will vote for anyone else without even knowing anything about him. I saw an interview with Johnson yesterday and wasn’t impressed. About the best thing he said was that he’d stopped smoking marijuana five weeks ago and wouldn’t smoke it as president because he didn’t think the American people would like him answering the red phone stoned.
So the race for the presidency is between Clinton and Trump. Although Trump has closed the gap between them in the latest polls to within the margin of error, there’s little to no chance of him winning the White House, and below is my analysis of why I think that. (I’d also be interested to see how the new polls now that Clinton is the confirmed nominee and after the latest exposé of Trump’s seriously wanting character. I suspect she will have increased the gap between them again.)
Overall Trend in voting since 1 January 2016 via Real Clear Politics:
The Women’s Vote
Clinton has a huge advantage over Trump with women. He has made multiple distasteful comments relating to women during his campaign which at the very least show a lack of respect for women. (I detailed some of them here.) Women vote in greater numbers than men – in 2012 53% of voters were women, and 55% of them voted for the Democratic Party. (44% of women voted for the Republican Party and 1% voted for other candidates.) In the latest Quinnipiac University poll, 54% of women said they would vote Democrat while only 30% supported the GOP. Trump thinks he can make up the numbers with men, but polls consistently show that while he does do better than Clinton with men, it is not by enough to cancel out her advantage with women. The same Quinnipiac poll had men voting 51% Republican and 35% Democratic.
When Trump was contemplating a debate with Bernie Sanders last week, he eventually pulled out citing the fact that Sanders wasn’t going to win as his reason. I don’t believe this. Trump is a publicity-monger and wouldn’t care about that as long as he thought the exposure would benefit him. I believe the real reason was that he couldn’t find a suitable charity. Knowing he has to find a way to appeal to more women if he ever wants to win the election, Trump suggested a multi-million donation to women’s charities if the debate went ahead. Talks were proceeding on that basis – I heard Bret Baier of Fox News’s Special Report say so on air on at least two separate occasions.
I suspect the real problem was three-fold:
1. He couldn’t identify a charity that had majority support, especially amongst women, that wasn’t also pro-choice;
2. He couldn’t donate to a women’s charity without bringing attention to all the anti-women comments he’s made in the campaign so far;
3. He couldn’t avoid accusations of attempting to buy the female vote. The fact that he’d already used the same tactic with veterans with mixed results when he petulantly refused to debate if Megyn Kelly was a moderator show it to be a way he thinks he can solve problems – throw money at it like a medieval king distributing largesse and expecting the recipients to be suitably grateful.
The Latino Vote
The last time a Republican won the White House was George W Bush in 2004. At that time Latinos made up 10% of the voters and Bush attracted the votes of 44% of them. They were a bloc seen as essential to his success. In 2008, McCain managed to get 31% of the Latino vote for the Republicans, and in 2012 Romney only managed 27%.
In November 2016, Latinos will make up 12% of voters and so they’re even more important to any candidate. Trump though, has gone out of his way to offend them. His immigration policy includes sending USian children from the country if their parents aren’t legal citizens, something that will affect more Latino-Americans than any other group. The likelihood that he’ll be targeting British illegal immigrants is not one anyone is worried about. The latest ABC/Wall Street Journal poll has Trump receiving only 20% of the Latino vote while 68% say they will vote for Clinton.
Trump’s difficulty with Latino voters is not only a problem overall, it is a problem in the electoral college. In 2004 the states of Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, and Virginia went to George W Bush. In 2008 and 2012 they were all won by the Democratic Party largely due to the extremely large Latino vote for the Democrats in all five states: Colorado (75%), Florida (60%), Nevada (71%), New Mexico (65%), Virginia (64%). At least two of those, Florida and Virginia, are amongst the fifteen that Trump plans to focus on in order to win the election – a strategy that has many in the GOP scratching their heads. They consider trying to flip California and New York, for example, a waste of time and money, and I have to agree with them.
Trump’s animus to immigrants of colour has been highlighted with his attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel in the Trump University class action suit. They have been entirely focused on the judge’s Mexican ancestry despite him being Indiana-born to legal immigrants. Other supposed proofs of the judge’s unfairness have only been brought up after the racial attack as cover.
Let’s be clear: Trump has every right to suggest the judge might be biased and should recuse himself. However, if there was any basis for this his lawyers would have done something about it long ago. The fact they haven’t suggests there is nothing in Trump’s allegations. Trump is using his public position as presumptive nominee to try and create an illusion of conflict of interest to at least delay this court case. At the moment there is a slim chance that the very strong case against Trump could come to court before the election in November. If the judge was forced by public pressure to recuse himself, there’s no chance the case will come up before the election.
The Republican party establishment are sticking by their man though:
The reasons for this are, I think, obvious. They don’t like Trump, but there are three things supporting him gives them. Firstly, they believe that if they stick close to him they retain control of the Republican party and its policies. (I think they would not be able to control him they way they believe, which I wrote about here.) Trump’s positions, as far as they can be pinned down, are frequently different to the Republican platform. Secondly, their only path to personal power is with Trump. And thirdly and most importantly, they like the philosophies of the justices Trump says he will appoint. For example, the list Trump announced back in mid-May are all anti-choice, and Republicans have been doing everything they can to destroy a woman’s right to choose in the US ever since that right was first confirmed by the Supreme Court back in the 1970s.
The African-American Vote
Republicans have not been able to attract African-American voters in large numbers since the Civil Rights era. Donald Trump will not change that, especially with things like his “my African-American” comment a few days ago. The indications are too that Barack Obama, who achieved the biggest African-American vote ever (93%) for the Democratic party, will endorse Clinton in the next few days and begin campaigning for her. He can excite a crowd as easily as Trump, and in addition provide a coherent, consistent message for voters.
The White Vote
Republicans think that a counter to the advantage Democrats will have with minority voters is their advantage with white voters. Whites are still the biggest voting bloc. Romney tried to appeal to white voters as well to make up for his failure to perform with others and in fact won white voters hugely 59% to 39%. However, although statistics this far out aren’t very reliable, Trump is not doing as well with white voters as even Romney did. The latest ABC/Wall Street Journal poll has him achieving 52% of the white vote and Clinton 36%. Romeny lost the election – Trump is going to need much more of the white vote than Romney managed if he wants to win.
The Conservative Vote
Trump has stated that the party is called the, “Republican party, not the Conservative party,” and many of his policies just don’t sit well with conservatives, especially when it comes to economics and foreign policy. Trump is isolationist and xenophobic and many of his statements in these areas are not just incoherent, they’re dangerous. His opposition to free trade and the tactics he proposes to reduce the trade deficits the US has with some countries displays a complete ignorance of economics. His proposals to introduce huge punitive tariffs will only increase costs for US consumers and invite retaliatory taxes, which will make it harder for US exporters to sell their products. And as the US, despite what Trump seems to think, is still the wealthiest large nation, it will be the US and her people that suffer the most from his tactics, not the Chinese or anyone else.
Trump’s foreign policy needs a whole post on its own. Clinton’s speech on 2 June did a good job of exposing much that is wrong with it, as have several Republicans. He supports nuclear proliferation – he stated Japan and South Korea should have their own nuclear weapons to fight North Korea for example. After not knowing what the nuclear triad was in an early debate, he didn’t make the effort to find out and still didn’t know a couple of weeks later. He and Putin seem to have formed some sort of mutual admiration society. He has no understanding of the value or purpose of NATO. Although he’s stated he favours Brexit (a wrong stance in my opinion) he doesn’t even seem to know what it means or understand the issues. He fails to understand the value of foreign aid and other soft diplomacy. He thinks climate change is Chinese-invented conspiracy. And I’m just getting started.
A Trump presidency would literally put the world in danger. He is susceptible to flattery and can be controlled by it. He is vulnerable to manipulation and his reactions to so many things demonstrates that first and foremost his presidency wouldn’t be about what is best for country, but for him personally. Candidates for president do not ask their surrogates and supporters to make attacks on judges on their behalf in relation to their personal business.
Luckily, it is extremely unlikely Trump will ever be president. Currently there are significantly more electoral college votes that are reliably Democratic than Republican. In 2012 although President Obama only won 26 states to Mitt Romney’s 24, he won an electoral college college landslide – 332 votes to 206. Trump’s failure to appeal to a majority of almost any demographic group means the chances of a Trump win are extremely slim.
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Excellent commentary. Few journos have tried this extensive review of the relevant information.
Thank you for this post Heather. It is insightful and certainly sets out the issues as far as I am concerned.
Heather, you should be right, still I wonder, because American politics can be so bizarre and also because the Dems are choosing the only major candidate that could conceivably lose to Trump. I think he backed out of the debate with Bernie because his campaign knows Hillary is his best chance and they didn’t want to legitimise Bernie further and give him a boost just before the California primary.
Thank you for a well-researched indepth analysis. It’s more useful than the quotes and events cited out of context. While correctly predicting political outcomes is dependent on so many factors, even the weather (especially where the vote is not compulsory) You have provided a well-argued case. We have good reason to believe in your conclusion!
Democracy is the worst possible way to select a leader except for all the other ways. Trump is the worst possible choice except for the remaining alternative.
Change is in the air, and dragging back the sleaziest duo in the annals of sleaze – two decades past their sell-by dates – does not smell like change.
You assured us crazy Trump would never get the nomination, yet now you’re supporting him. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.
If you find yourself enjoying the luxury and good fortune of voting in a state where your vote doesn’t count, you don’t have to “support” anybody. But if you’re forced to stare down the prospect of another four years of hell on top of the last eight, it’s not even remotely a close call.
As I said, not surprised, neither by the hyperbole, nor the capitulation. I guess one delusion is needed to justify the other.
Terrific analysis Heather and I think (& hope) you’re prescient.
I would add another reason the Trump/Sanders debate didn’t occur is Trump and his advisers knew he’d get “Berned”. That would have been an entertaining debate though.
It’s also clear that Trump has no self-control and little self-awareness, so his gaffs will continue piling up.
Lastly, it is pathetic and inexcusable that leaders like Ryan will support a bigot over a democrat. The Republican Party has proven to be classless and immoral. I hope, for the sake of America, the party self-destructs. Good riddance a-holes!
I sure hope you’re right, that the Chump doesn’t stand a chance a chance of getting elected, he’s a scary dude.
Thanks so much everyone. 🙂
I agree Ken that legitimizing Sanders will have factored into their reasons, I just don’t think it was a major one. Trump’s supporters are willing to explain away anything he says – he’s admitted this himself with his Murder on Fifth Avenue comment.
And Mark R. – you’re right that Trump would have lost a debate with Sanders, but that would have been with people analysing it fairly. Even though he’s never said anything substantive in a debate, he’s almost always won them in the popular vote. Most people see the candidate they support with rose-tinted spectacles and his seem to do that more than most. As you say, it would have been entertaining, and at the end of the day that’s what Trump cares about most. All publicity is good publicity, though he’s finally finding out with Trump U that may not be the case.
I also agree Mark R that the GOP’s support of Trump shows a lack of principle. I think Republicans will NOT vote in record numbers, or write in a candidate, because they cannot in good conscience support Trump.
They could have found a suitable charity if they wanted to. They didn’t want to. It’s not supporters they feared, it’s the independents who are more likely to choose Bernie than Hillary over Trump. As we will soon see, in a debate with Hillary, the Donald has so much more to work with to avoid substantive policy debate; her flip flops, scandals, etc. All he has with Bernie is that he’s a democratic socialist, which is a policy debate in itself and one Bernie consistently and proudly embraces. The Democrats may well rue their decision to deprive us all of that debate and instead give Trump the platform to drag Hillary through the mud.
I’m not so sure his tactics so far are going to be quite so successful in the general election. Yes, there’s definitely mud to throw at Clinton, but she’s also clearly more knowledgeable than Trump in every area and thinks quickly on her feet. Trump has plenty of dodgy things he can be tackled on too, and his own flip-flops just in this campaign are legend. Sanders I think could have wiped the floor with Trump on many domestic issues, but he struggles with foreign policy and USians seem to like Trump’s bluster on that. If there’s a terrorist attack Trump could capitalize on that easier with Sanders than with Clinton. Sanders responses would be perfectly reasonable but would be framed as weak.
I’m not impressed with the way Debbie Wasserman Shultz handled things, especially in relation to debates. I agree there should have been more, and at better times.
Terrific analysis, Heather, and makes great sense! I really needed to read something like this after that ghastly primary season.
I’m sure you know the speculation that the reason that Trump won’t release is tax returns is because they’d show he paid next to nothing if not actually nothing in taxes. I’d love to have that exposed, but I don’t think it would even sway his acolytes now.
Yeah, I had heard that about his taxes, and also the additional speculation that there’s something about who he’s donated to and how much he’s donated that he wants to hide. But I think you’re right – nothing will sway his acolytes. When he made that comment about gunning people down in Fifth Avenue and they’d still love him he was right. Sam Harris made a similar one on that really long video that Grania posted the other day. I mostly listened to it as background noise, but I remember Sam Harris saying Trump could send out a tweet saying he wanted to f**k Danni Minogue, and he’d just get tweets back saying, “Yeah, go for it,” and similar. No-one else could get away with that.
A lot of Trumpishness would be hilarious if it wasn’t also so appalling and scary. 😉
I completely agree!
As someone with pretensions to he an historian, I often look at events and wonder how people will look at them from a couple of hundred years in the future. The Trump Phenomenon is one that will have people reacting in disbelief for centuries.
Less distantly, it could inspire many a History/Poli Sci/Abnormal Psych/Sociolgy, etc., thesis! 😀
Definitely! I’m sure many books and papers are currently being written ready to be released as soon as the election is over.
Future historians will have their hands full figuring out how the only U.S. President to have waged war continuously for 2,922 consecutive days (including heretofore unimaginable numbers of targeted killings, among them U.S. citizens whom that President had solemnly sworn to defend) nevertheless managed to cop the so-called Nobel “Peace” Prize for literally no good reason.
And that’s only after these historians figure out how a ludicrously unaccomplished “neighborhood organizer” and serial memoirist came to power in the first place.
If there’s any justice, he’ll end up in an appendix on historical oddities and absurdities, which is more than he deserves.
I agree that getting the Nobel peace prize was a political move which he himself seemed embarrassed about, however he got it at the beginning of his presidency so your logic is screwed.
And the failure of the Republican presidency was such that they’d driven away just about every voter persuadable to their side, then drove away the rest by choosing an idiot like Palin to be the running mate.
I’ve said before I thought Clinton was the better candidate in 2008. I wish Obama had carried on as a senator, or got some gubernatorial experience, then was the candidate this year. However, he’s an extremely intelligent and talented man who is a wholly capable president.
Okay. We must be talking about different people.