Landslide For Hillary Is Trump’s Meaning
Presidential elections are a race to 270 electoral votes that turns on maybe a dozen key swing states. Those states are won and lost in a handful of suburban bellwether counties between heavily Democratic cities and heavily Republican rural areas, notes Jim Geraghty. While performance in a primary doesn’t necessarily correlate to performance in a general election, Donald Trump has not done particularly well in the counties on which a general election turns. It could result in a landslide for Hillary Clinton.
The bright spot of his campaign, general-election-wise, thus far in the primary has been Florida. Trump carried Hillsborough County, which consists of Tampa and its surrounding suburbs, with 40.8 percent of the vote. The presidential candidate that carries Hillsborough has won Florida in every general election since 1960.
The six counties of the I-4 corridor, a stretch between Tampa and Daytona Beach that includes Orlando, have voted for the statewide winner since at least 1992, and the national winner since 1996. Trump enjoyed roughly the same level of support in these key counties: He won 45.7 percent statewide, 44.9 percent in Polk, 46.9 percent in Osceola, 39.8 percent in Orange, 41.6 percent in Seminole, and 53.3 percent in Volusia. Outside of Florida, it has not been as good thus far, and actually points towards a landslide.
Trump won 35 percent of the vote in Ohio. In Franklin County, which includes Columbus and its suburbs, Kasich beat him, 63 percent to 22 percent. In Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati and its suburbs, Kasich won 47.9 percent of the vote to 29.1 percent for Trump. In Wood County, which includes the suburbs of Toledo and has voted for the eventual winner in every presidential election since 1980, Kasich won 48.5 percent to 30.5 percent for Trump.
Trump won North Carolina with 40 percent of the vote. He was beaten in Wake County, home to the highly educated, population-dense “Research Triangle” of North Carolina universities, by eleven points to Ted Cruz and failed to crack 30 percent of the vote.
Trump won Virginia, but ran terribly in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., which in recent cycles have held the key to statewide victory. In Prince William County, he lost by less than a point to Marco Rubio, but Rubio won Loudon County 40.9 percent to 27.9 percent. Loudon, the third-most-populous county in the state, was narrowly carried by President Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Fairfax County, the gargantuan D.C. suburb home to one in seven Virginia voters, was carried by Obama in 2008 and 2012. A Republican needs to at least minimize his losses in Fairfax to have a chance of carrying Virginia, and Trump lost 40 percent to 25 percent.
Cedar County, Iowa, is one of those odd bellwethers; it’s not terribly populated, yet it always seems to reflect the statewide vote within one percentage point. In 2000, Gore and Bush each got exactly 4,025 votes in Cedar. In 2012, Obama won it 51 to 47 percent, roughly matching the state and national vote. In this year’s caucus, Trump lost it narrowly to Cruz, barely cracking 25 percent of the vote.
Polk County, which includes Des Moines and its suburbs, was traditionally Democratic but is getting more competitive; Governor Terry Branstad won it in 2010 and 2014, and Joni Ernst only narrowly lost it en route to the Senate last cycle. Rubio carried Polk, winning 26.9 percent of the vote to Ted Cruz’s 25.3 percent and Trump’s 21.8 percent.
After the bitter disappointment of the 2012 elections, Republicans examined Mitt Romney’s vote totals and found an inexcusable under-performance among key groups of voters. They declared that the next GOP nominee had to reduce the gender gap, win more votes in cities, win the suburbs, win a larger share of Hispanics, at least compete for a larger share of African Americans, make inroads among Millennials, and build a larger margin among college-educated voters. Trump is doing the opposite of this, which points to a landslide.
Trump Is A Weak General Election Candidate
Trump supporters and pontificators don’t realize how the demographics of the United States have changed. Ronald Reagan took home 56% of the white vote in 1984 on his way a landslide election win, getting 59% of the popular vote. Mitt Romney won a larger percentage of white voters in 2012 (59%), yet lost to Obama, only achieving 47% of the popular vote.
Trump has alienated POWS, veterans, blacks, women, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, Jews, the handicapped, conservatives, republicans, libertarians, Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, pro lifers, gun owners, widows with houses in the way of his parking lots… who will vote for him in the general? His high negatives with minorities and millennials means he loses in just about every head to head poll against Hillary. He can win 40% of any Republican primary because it’s mostly white voters, but the general election is much more diverse. That diversity leads to a landslide which most candidates would try to address.
Trump Is Not A Real Candidate
It’s curious that a person that says he’s worth $10 billion dollars and is afraid of getting ripped off at the convention if he comes up a few delegates short, hasn’t opened up his check book to carpet bomb his competition or actually build real campaign infrastructure. At $10 billion, $50 million is a rounding error to make sure “the establishment” can’t steal the primary from you because you hit the convention with 1,400 delegates.
This is because Trump may not be worth $10 Billion. Since his is a private company, only he knows what he is worth, and we have only his word. Much of his wealth comes from his Trump brand leasing part of the business. While many buildings and products may have his name on them, he does not necessarily own those businesses themselves. His brand is his company and he values his brand much more than outside estimators do.
Trump has close to $4 million in campaign donations. He has reportedly only spent about $100,000 of his own money. If Trump really wants the nomination(and I don’t think he does), his best bet would be to make a deal with Kasich to lock up his support. If he doesn’t make a deal with Kasich, he’ll have to make deals at the GOP convention. He’s really good at making deals. Just ask him.
Trump Is Not Dominant
His average percentage of wins in the 29 elections so far, including the Mariana Islands, is only 36%, meaning that 64% are not voting for him. In the early contests there was a gaggle of GOP candidates. In a few of them, if you took the 4th place finisher’s votes and split them evenly between the 2nd and 3rd place finishers, both 2nd place and 3rd place would have beaten Trump.
It’s true that Trump has beaten all the other candidates, including Cruz, many more times than all the other candidates, including Cruz, have beaten Trump. Trump has run his campaign with over two billion dollars in free media coverage. I think it unlikely that Trump could be winning without that helping hand. And I think it even less likely that the media will continue to shower him with free, positive media coverage. However, they will most likely continue to shower him with free media coverage if he runs a 3rd party campaign to split the GOP vote.
Trump’s Support Is Shallow
In the five contests held on March 15, the share of GOP primary voters who told pollsters flatly they would not support Trump if he becomes the nominee ranged from roughly a quarter to a third. When GOP voters were asked if they’d be “satisfied” with a Clinton vs. Trump matchup or if they’d look at supporting a third-party candidate, the numbers were staggering. In Missouri and Illinois, 43 percent of GOP primary voters said they’d “seriously consider voting for a third-party candidate.” In Ohio, 42 percent said they were potential third-party voters. In North Carolina it was 39 percent, and in Florida, Trump’s best state that day, 3 in 10.
While some Democrats aren’t excited about Hillary, they’re nowhere near willing to vote for a third-party candidate in such numbers. Many Trump supporters discount the likeability factor of a candidate. While many voters find Hillary not very likeable, they find Trump detestable. The seeds of a landslide are planted.
Donald Trump is focusing on winning the primary nomination. Hillary Clinton is focusing on winning the general election. Many Democrats voted Trump in the Michigan primary to get him the Republican nomination where they plan on voting against him in the general. This is why what is assumed to be a close election is actually a growing landslide.
Demographics Are Against Trump
The story for Trump is that the white vote will be about 70% of the electorate if previous trends hold (it’s been going down about 2 percentage points per election for three cycles now). If he got 70% of that, he would have more than 45% of the general election vote without a single minority vote. If he galvanized enough new white turnout to put the percentage back in the 73-75 range, he’d have even a greater margin of error for the inevitable losses in minorities.
Trump is supposedly redrawing the electoral map where individual counties are not self-contained units the way states are for electoral college purposes. In other words, a vote in Mississippi is not as good as a vote in Ohio, but a vote in Gallipolis, Ohio, deep in Appalachian country, is just as good as a vote in Upper Arlington, Ohio, in fairly purple Franklin County.
Purple suburbs like Franklin County’s have been key to previous elections because those are basically where you’ll find the largest share of people that lean between centrist Republicans and centrist Democrats. Turnout in Appalachian country is usually pretty stable and predictable because nothing ever changes out there regardless of who wins anyway.
Trump’s argument is that he changes that calculus by bringing people to the party who haven’t voted in years or ever. Most of those appear to be in the older, smaller, forgotten Rust Belt cities where turnout really hasn’t budged much in previous cycles.
No one Appalachian county can outnumber heavily-populated Franklin County. But there are a lot more Appalachian counties than people think, and if those break hard for Trump and increase their turnout, underperformance in Franklin County might not be fatal for Trump.
This is an extremely flawed theory as it relies on never-before-recorded turn out from those counties while at the same time not losing substantial numbers from other parts of the party.
If Trump does worse with Hispanics than Mitt Romney did, which I think we all agree he will, he will most likely do slightly worse than Mitt did with the overall minority vote. Minority voters will likely be close to 31% this cycle.
Trump has to win 70% of the white vote. No Republican has ever achieved that number. This points to a landslide.
In a general election it would not matter whether it was Trump, Cruz or the Tooth Fairy; demographics matter. Too much emphasis is being placed by the Trump faithful on primary results, and not enough attention is being paid to what really matters: electoral votes. Not caring about electoral votes means calling Hillary Madam President.
Trump is still only averaging 36% when you average out his wins. He’s not really growing his base, as he claims, even after the field has been narrowed down from 17 to now 3.
Trump means a landslide not only in the Presidential election, but possibly down-ticket as well. Cook just moved their predictions for 10 congressional districts, all in favor of Democrats. That’s the Trump effect.