The Pundits suddenly saying Trump could win in Nov.? No. Just, No

David Faris | (Informed Comment) |

Over the last few weeks, pundits have written a series of “Trump can actually win” think pieces. Especially in light of Trump’s improving performance in the GOP primaries, no one wants to be the person who declares a Clinton loss unthinkable and then gets linked back to by schadenfreude-seeking Trump voters after an election day upset.

Nevertheless, a Trump victory is indeed unthinkable. While nothing is impossible in human political affairs, Clinton over Trump is the easiest slam dunk in national politics since Reagan-Mondale. There is a reason GOP elites are running scared from their presumptive nominee, and planning to skip the convention in Cleveland: Trump will be the most radioactive major party nominee in modern American history.

You don’t need elaborate theories about turnout to see this. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has led Trump in 65 of 72 national polls conducted since January 1st as of this writing. In a deeply and almost evenly divided country, this is quite remarkable. The only pollster to show Trump with a lead since February is Rasmussen, an outfit with a consistent GOP bias that doesn’t release public crosstabs and is widely regarded as one of the worst national polling organizations. And those numbers are unlikely to fluctuate wildly, since Trump and Clinton are two of the best known human beings in the country.

To put this in perspective, by this date in the 2008 cycle, John McCain – who would go on to lose the election to Barack Obama by a 7-point blowout – had led in 15 of 59 public polls taken that year. And at this point four years ago, Mitt Romney had a lead in 11 public polls taken in 2012 and would eventually lose the election by 5 million votes. While there will no doubt be a handful of outlier polls showing a Trump lead between now and November, Trump is in worse shape than either McCain or Romney on their worst days. That’s the baseline.

But the national numbers don’t tell the whole story, since the winner is decided by the Electoral College. Trump’s polling in purple states is even more abysmal, as he trails badly in swing states like Florida and Ohio. And the few surveys taken of Republican leaning states like Arizona suggest that Trump will be fortunate just to hold on to the McCain 2008 map. And let’s not forget that Trump is profoundly unpopular in the Mormon West, which will sink him in purple Colorado and perhaps even in Utah, a state McCain carried 62-34.

The national polls only confirm what common sense tells us: Trump is a deeply unqualified and divisive presidential candidate who is unlikely to appeal to anyone beyond his noisy, hardcore base. Not only that, he inadvertently blunders into the GOP’s two biggest demographic problems at once. First, he is toxically unpopular with Latinos, who continue to grow as a slice of the American electorate as whites decline. Mitt Romney was crushed among Latino voters 71-27, a shatteringly needless and self-inflicted loss brought on by capitulation to his party’s nativists and his insistence that undocumented immigrants “self-deport” themselves.

Trumps’s incendiary “rapists and murderers” rhetoric about Latinos is directed mostly at Mexicans, but this distinction is likely to be lost on most voters. Gallup’s most recent data shows that Trump is viewed unfavorably by 77% of Latinos. He would probably be lucky to pull 15%. The presence of a brash and dangerous know-nothing racist at the top of the Republican ticket will bring out these voters in record numbers.

Trump will also worsen the GOP’s longstanding, double-digit deficits with women. Trump’s smoldering misogyny is so incandescent it can be seen from space. Whatever else you want to say about him, Mitt Romney is an anodyne family man with a completely unobjectionable history with women (aside from his boilerplate Republican anti-choice positions). He lost women decisively 56-44, and the election by 5 million votes.

To have a prayer of beating Hillary Clinton, Trump – a man with a Tolstoy-length history of hateful recorded statements about women – would have to substantially narrow that gap. Is there anyone who realistically thinks this is possible? It would be hard to pull off even if Trump started sounding like the president of Planned Parenthood tomorrow morning, but as evidenced by his incoherent victory “speech” after the Acela Primaries, he seems to have no intention of toning down his loathsome anti-women rhetoric.

But Trump’s problems go beyond women. Given how much worse he is likely to lose women and Latinos than McCain or Romney, he must expand the Republican candidate’s appeal to men. Romney won men 54-46. But this isn’t 1952, and many men, thankfully, find Trump’s rampant misogyny as repellant as women do. Trump is under water even with white men, a group any Republican candidate needs to win by double digits to even sniff victory. McCain won them 57-43.

And the worst for Trump is yet to come. His incompetent and impulsive business dealings are well known, such as his venture into real estate at the height of the housing bubble. While his Republican rivals eventually hit him for things like the fraudulent Trump University, there are much more rotten skeletons in his closet, like his extensive ties to organized crime, or the barely-walked-back allegation of marital rape leveled at him by his ex-wife Ivana Trump. Clinton, no stranger to bare-knuckle politics, will hammer Trump on these transgressions, even as the big GOP donors contemplate sitting the contest out.

Even most members in good standing of the GOP intelligentsia recognize Trump’s unique and unparalleled threat to American democracy and to their party’s reputation. From David Brooks to Robert Kagan, Republican thought leaders have publicly declared their intention either to vote for Clinton, to leave the top of the ticket blank, or perhaps like Bill Kristol, to push for a kamikaze run by an establishment figure. In most cycles, this could be considered nothing more than loose talk from sore losers, but Trump is a uniquely polarizing candidate within the GOP, and many movement conservatives are just never going to come around.

Prediction markets currently give Trump a 30% chance. This seems generous. In reality, Trump will be playing defense in states like Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia. A significant slice of the core Republican electorate is likely to skip the election or vote for a spoiler. Women will come out in record numbers, not only to elect the first woman president in history, but also to snub the appallingly misogynist Trump. Latinos will set turnout records, and deliver unprecedented, African-American-like margins to Clinton. Voters may be furious, but they aren’t angry enough to send a man like this to the White House.

This will all disappoint pundits and media elites hoping for a close race. So go ahead and bookmark this page if you think I’m wrong.

But Donald Trump is a goner.

David M. Faris is a professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Roosevelt University in downtown Chicago. He is also the director of Roosevelt’s interdisciplinary International Studies Program. His book Dissent and Revolution in a Digital Age: Social Media, Blogging and Activism in Egypt (2013) focuses on the use of digital media by Egyptian opposition movements.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

The Young Turks: “Republicans Will Nominate National Embarrassment Donald Trump”

13 Responses

  1. The media won’t even give time to some of the groups who have grievances against Trump.

    Whatever his own personal prejudices are, it’s clear that his followers take a special pleasure in attacking Black critics of our bloodthirsty police forces. Remember Birmingham. I expect that we will see more explicit hostility towards African-Americans in general. Since he’s not as clever at turning bigotry into policy as the Republican dog-whistlers he overthrew, we might have to put up with fewer race-coded scams like privatized prisons and special crack laws. Instead, he will loudly embrace what we have actually done: hold the African-American people collectively responsible for all violence, and direct policing policy from Washington towards militarized occupation, even hoping for blowback and escalation and permanent martial law; Gaza USA. He has no concept of division of powers between the Federal branches, and as far as I can tell between Federal and State. His followers only loved States’ Rights because the States have been more successfully rigged to monopolize White power than national elections, but under President Trump they will have the big guns and look to use them while they can to get “their” country back, way way back.

    Other presidents used wars abroad to strengthen their power. How long will it take him to send in the Army to crush a minority riot over police abuses at home? Where’s America’s peace movement for that?

  2. Trump is gonna make her look like the most corrupt , evil person that ever lived. It’s not going to be too hard of a sell for a lot of folks.

  3. It’s not just caution driving these fantasies of a contest. I’m sure there’s much demand from the business side of news publications for pieces that make the election look a lot more interesting than it is.

  4. Several points:

    (1) McCain and Obama were in a virtual dead heat in presidential polling until the time of the stock market meltdown in August of 2008 – Obama at that point ran up an 8-point lead in the polling;

    (2) Reagan was so unpopular at the end of 1982 – largely due to the ongoing economic recession – that there were those in the Republican National Committee that privately considered opposing his re-nomination in 1984;

    (3) Reagan immediately after the Democratic National Convention in 1984 polled about 10% behind Walter Mondale and was suffering from a “gender gap” effect that was exacerbated by the historic naming of Geraldine Ferraro as Mondale’s VP running mate;

    (4) VP George H.W. Bush trailed Michael Dukakis in double-digits throughout much of 1988 – until Dukakis was ridiculed over the Willie Horton prison furlough fiasco and his membership in the ACLU by GOP campaign genius Lee Atwater;

    (4) Pres. George H.W. Bush was considered largely unbeatable by many observers in early 1992 after the successful conclusion of the Persian Gulf War and his aggressive ongoing war on the Colombian drug cartels.

    Trump cannot be ruled out as a viable nominee by a long shot.

  5. The media will do whatever they can to make this trainwreck into a horserace.

    Just think of how much poo will be flung until the “debates” in October. The whole thing is sickening.

  6. Perhaps Trump is unelectable, but I would sleep easier if his opponent (Clinton) was not the second most reviled politician in recent memory

  7. When you take Trump’s unfavorability rating among women and minorities, Clinton is close to 50% of the vote without a single white male. Women make up 53% of the electorate and Trump has a 70% negative rating with women–that’s 37% of the vote right there. I have been predicting for a month or so that Clinton will win by 10 to 12 percentage points and get around 350 electoral votes. It actually could get worse in the electoral college, but campaigns and candidates make a difference and you can’t predict future events. But, with Trump seemingly intent on picking a fight with Paul Ryan, the most popular office holder in the GOP, it’s almost as if he is sabotaging his own campaign.

    • Yes, but the entire point of White male culture is that they will fight harder to hold onto power than anyone else will fight to seize it. Meaning, when they’re threatened, their voter turnout not only goes up, but their voters are cheering on the victors to gerrymander and Jim Crow everyone else out of the electorate. There is no group-think stronger than patriarch group-think, the tradition of multiple supremacies turning their choruses into gospel. So the rest of us let them get away with stealing elections, like in 2000.

      If Trump is too divisive to hold together the patriarchy, the question is, what voter suppression trick is next for his followers? Mass violence? Bomb threats? It is not hard to find out these days where one’s enemies are concentrated.

      No, it probably won’t work. But since they have no moral inhibitions against dictatorship and genocide, they won’t be satisfied until they’ve tried every Final Solution that they have the weapons for. We have been amply warned; we must prepare to protect each other.

      • Trump is also driving up registration among Latino and other minority groups who will probably turn out in record numbers. The possible increase there is likely more than with white males, since they register and vote at high levels anyway. And spare us the apocalyptic babble. It’s often the sign of a fear monger.

  8. What worries me is not Trump, but his voters. After he loses ( an assumption ), his supporters will still be around. While non-whites in both the army and the polling booth form a firewall against a future fascist takeover, his supporters can still be dangerous. Many of them are armed to the teeth. We already have a low level of American “Taliban” terrorist activity, such a police assassinations . The level will escalate after the election.

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