This Is What Americans Do Electing The POTUS
Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections. The biggest advantage that the Democrats have is that California went from being a reliably Republican state in presidential elections from 1952 through 1988 into a reliably Democrat state beginning in 1992. The formula to remember for why this is:
1992 + 1988 + Florida = a Democrat in the White House.
That first number represents the ten states with a total of 152 electoral votes that have been won by every Democratic presidential nominee since 1992 [California (55) Pennsylvania (20) Illinois (20) Michigan (16) New Jersey (14) Maryland (10) Connecticut (7) Maine (4) Vermont (3) Delaware (3)]. The second number represents the nine states with a total of 90 electoral votes that have been won by every Democratic presidential nominee since 1988 [New York (29) Washington (12) Massachusetts (11) Minnesota (10) Wisconsin (10) Oregon (7) Hawaii (4) Rhode Island (4) Washington, D.C. (3)]. Together, those states command 242 electoral votes. If Hillary follows this electoral college precedent that has held since 1992 and also wins Florida (29) or any combination of states yielding 28 votes, she wins with the required 270 votes at 271.
The Current President
President Obama won that all important state of Florida by small margins in both 2008 and 2012. His winning voter coalition consisted of women, blacks, Latinos, Asians, voters aged 18 to 44, voters with incomes under $50,000, and voters belonging to a union. In 2012, 53 percent of all voters were women, and President Obama won this group by an 11-point margin.
Obama’s current job approval/disapproval rating stands at 45.3/50.3 according to Real Clear Politics. These are highly respectable approval numbers for a seventh presidential year.
The Frontrunner’s Strategy 2016
Older, whiter, richer, male college graduates [the voters who show up for midterm elections and vote Republican though Romney lost postgraduate educated (42/55)] are overwhelmed by the sheer number of female, younger, poorer, less educated, and less white voters who tend to flood the polls in presidential-election years. Hillary will target these same voter groups to assemble the coalition that gave Obama his two victories.
Bill Clinton’s favorability is currently 56/26. The 42nd and 44th presidents will each campaign and fundraise for Hillary Clinton. Obama’s approval rating is a variable over which there is little control. It was as low as 41% about a year and a half ago which would put Hillary in a real bind. She would have to distance herself from him but would risk alienating his coalition while doing so. Hillary is banking on and will probably surpass Obama’s numbers with women, and expect her to be a near permanent resident of Florida in 2016.
How To Win An Election for POTUS
The candidate who gets the most electoral votes wins. There’s a general correlation between that and winning the popular vote. This means one thing, registering voters.
Republicans and Democrats die, switch parties, drop out of the political process etc. Those voters must be replaced. Parties that do not replace their voters lose elections. I would argue that politics are downstream of voter registration drives. In other words, I believe if you are registered by a Republican or Democrat, you will vote that way regardless of policy, platform etc.
For example, if group (XYZ) wants more women, it should simply register more women. Platitudes, policy, active engagement and recruitment are all required to get more women to register and show up in polls as WOMEN FOR XYZ. XYZ’s opponent ABC can counter by registering their own women who show up in polls as WOMEN FOR ABC, depress the turnout for women by focusing on unpopular policies of XYZ with women, or simply register more men. There does not need to be any particular attraction those women (or men) have for either candidate or party.
Through technology and efforts of groups such as ACORN, Democrats and particularly OFA have been proficient at this. The Republicans are still figuring it out though they are making advances. The TEA Party apparently found 5 million new voters in time for the 2010 midterms. The establishment of the Republican party is fighting against the Tea Party factions for while finding new voters is no small feat, motivating new voters is just as powerful.
What The GOP Can Do
The good news is it’s nearly impossible for the same party to hold onto the presidency for 12 years. It didn’t happen in 2000 after eight fairly prosperous and peaceful years. No Democrat won a majority of votes cast from the 1968 presidential election until President Obama won a majority in 2008. This includes Jimmy Carter who took 49.9% of the popular vote in 1976, Bill Clinton who took 43% of the popular vote in 1992 and 49% of the popular vote in 1996. In fact, Barack Obama’s only took 52.9% of the popular vote in 2008 when he was running against a financial crisis, and a country extraordinarily unhappy with a Republican incumbent president. There is reason to believe that Obama’s success is his alone and not the Democratic Party’s. The midterm elections may lend some (very little in my opinion) credence to this.
Mitt Romney won the white vote (59/39), men (52/45), voters aged 45 to 64 (51/47), voters aged 65 and over (56/44), college graduates (51/47), voters with incomes between $50,000 and $90,000 (52/46), and voters with incomes of $100,000 and over (54/44). Hillary may threaten some of these groups, but they should still hold for the Republican standard bearer.
The bad news (for the GOP base). If the GOP nominates a ticket of two white men, it’s probably going to lose. But they don’t have to do that. The GOP should counter the Democratic first with a first of their own. A Jindal-Rubio ticket would provide executive and legislative experience, and intelligence that is very conservative leaning by a southeast asian and latino ticket, sons of immigrants.
I don’t think Ted Cruz nor Bobby Jindal are viable general election candidates, and I don’t think Marco Rubio’s candidacy is real, but I do feel New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez should be the vice presidential candidate no matter who gets the nomination. She’s female and hispanic which will undermine two of the core groups that Hillary needs to win. She is also a former DA, and a former Democrat so she will be able to reach many constituencies. She’s one of the most popular governors in the country, and her approval rating in New Mexico is very high even amongst Democrats.
The GOP base, with emerging access in new media, will have to stop expressing contempt for women and nostalgia for the days when women (and other groups) couldn’t vote. The party needs to stop writing off the female vote (and other groups) ceding the majority of it to Democrats.
Foreign policy has been a net plus for Democrats since 2004 because the general electorate views the Iraqi War unfavorably and blames the GOP for this debacle. There are several issues brewing that could potentially blow up in President Obama’s (Hillary’s) face including Ukraine and Russia, Syria and Iraq, Iran, and finally Cuba and Venezuela.
Because the Republican strength is more widespread across the nation thanks to gerrymandering, they can hang onto the House seemingly indefinitely and remain competitive in Senate races. Getting the Presidency is much more difficult, but if the GOP focuses on getting more registered Republican voters of groups with a deficit of such voters (e.g. women, latinos, blacks, asians, gays) it’s possible to build a big enough base of voters to swing purple states.