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Could Trump Actually Win?

March 22nd, 2016 No comments

Modified from photo by Gage SkidmoreIt’s a question that’s kept me up at night: could Trump actually become President? Assuming a Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton general election contest (Sanders supporters, just roll with me here), could Trump pick up so many disaffected working class white voters that he wins? That’s the scenario that I keep reading about: Trump could boost turnout from his base of whites without a college degree, and become competitive in places like Ohio and Wisconsin.

Then I discovered that Nate Silver’s site, FiveThirtyEight, has actually put together a simulator that lets you see how changes in turnout and voter preference would affect the election, starting with Obama vs. Romney 2012 as a baseline. It divides the electorate into some pretty broad groups (college-educated white, non-college-educated white, black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian/other), but it still offers some interesting insights. And I found it addictingly fun to play with…

So anyway, could Trump win? I wanted to see how the aforementioned nightmare scenario would actually play out. I gave Mr. Trump the most charitable possibilities I could think of for each group. I started with the premise that he somehow pulls off a “white miracle” and not only attracts Reagan-levels of the non-college-educated white vote to the GOP, but also boosts that group’s turnout to unprecedented heights, matching college-educated turnout for the first time in polling history!

Next, as we know, his rhetoric and temperament have appalled many “establishment” Republicans, and folks with college degrees in general. So I moved the college-educated white vote a tiny bit towards the Democratic side, but also reduced its turnout a couple points (figuring some Republicans and maybe young Sanders supporters stay home): probably a best-case scenario for Trump. I don’t think there’s a way to avoid the non-white vote sliding towards Hillary Clinton in this scenario, after all the things Trump has said. But I only shifted it a bit and only moved turnout up a tiny amount: maybe fear of Trump is not that much stronger than having an inspirational black candidate like Obama? I don’t know, but again, this is supposed to represent the most charitable scenario for Mr. Trump.

When all of that is entered in, here is what we get:

Trump Scenario 1

The results surprised me! It may be hard to read, but Clinton wins with 294 electoral votes to 244. Even with unfathomable record-breaking support from his base, it only takes a small shift among other groups for Trump to still lose. Why does this happen, even with Trump picking up places like Ohio and (usually true-blue) Wisconsin? The reason, I found, is that states like Florida, Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada have all gotten more diverse and more college-educated on average. Playing on racist and xenophobic fears just doesn’t cut it in those places.

And that was supposed to be the good scenario for Trump! Here’s a more (in my eyes) likely scenario, where Trump makes some gains with the non-college-educated white vote, but turns off all of the other groups just as much, if not a little more, and a lot of college-educated Republicans choose Clinton or stay home:

Trump Scenario 2

In this scenario, Clinton wins Texas, and even states like Mississippi and Alaska are within reach.

In conclusion, the Trump victory scenario that I keep hearing about is really far-fetched. And that’s without even factoring in all the negative ads that will run against him for the next several months, a potentially divisive convention fight, conservative plans for a third-party ticket, and a poll showing nearly 25% of Republicans would choose Clinton over Trump. So, I’m not going to tell you to stop fearing or fighting Trump, because he’s still frightening and still hurting the country. But I can tell you, I’m definitely going to sleep a little better at night.

PS: I was thinking about posting possibilities for other match-ups, like if Sanders or Cruz somehow grabbed the nomination, but that would be a lot of screenshots. Feel free to try out your own scenarios with the simulator!

The 2016 GOP Contenders in 60 Seconds

July 18th, 2015 No comments

Many friends have approached me, saying, “I’d like to know what to expect from the ridiculous number of Republicans running for president, but without having to listen to any of them or think about them for too long. Don’t you have a blog where you could post something like that?”

Yes, many friends. Yes indeed.

Here are all the major Republican candidates that have announced or are expected to announce, plus my opinion of their chances of winning, and one strength and one weakness for each one.

Go:

Jeb BushJeb Bush
Chances: Slim
Strength: Last Name
Weakness: Last Name (Also: Boring)

Marco RubioMarco Rubio
Chances: Slim
Strength: Young Charismatic Latino
Weakness: Inexperience

Mike HuckabeeMike Huckabee
Chances: Slim
Strength: Culture Warrior
Weakness: Non-Culture Issues

Scott WalkerScott Walker
Chances: Slim
Strength: Koch Brothers’ Chosen Boy
Weakness: Campaigning

Rand PaulRand Paul
Chances: Very Slim
Strength: Cult Following
Weakness: Pro-Marijuana, Pro-Civil Liberties

Rick SantorumRick Santorum
Chances: Very Slim
Strength: Homophobia
Weakness: Being a Smug Prick

Rick PerryRick Perry
Chances: Very Slim
Strength: Looks Smarter in Glasses
Weakness: Still Dumb as a Boot

Chris ChristieChris Christie
Chances: Very Slim
Strength: Loud and Blunt
Weakness: Well-Publicized Scandal

Lindsey GrahamLindsey Graham
Chances: Nope
Strength: Foreign Policy Experience
Weakness: Girl’s Name

Ted CruzTed Cruz
Chances: No
Strength: Occasionally Taken Seriously
Weakness: Always Looks Like a Muppet About to Cry

Donald TrumpDonald Trump
Chances: Dear God No No No
Strength: Name Recognition
Weakness: Everything Else

Ben CarsonBen Carson
Chances: No
Strength: Black Political Outsider
Weakness: Black Political Outsider

Bobby JindalBobby Jindal
Chances: Nope
Strength: Nope
Weakness: Nope

John KasichJohn Kasich
Chances: Nope
Strength: From Ohio
Weakness: Who?

George PatakiGeorge Pataki
Chances: No Sir
Strength: He Used to be a Governor?
Weakness: He Wasn’t Even That Good

Carly FiorinaCarly Fiorina
Chances: Haha, No
Strength: Only Woman
Weakness: Spotty Business Record, No Political Record

 

Is it over yet?

No. Donald Trump is still a real person.

 

El Nuevo GOP: ¡Hola Latinos!

November 24th, 2012 No comments

Republican Elephant With SombreroFollowing their stinging losses nationwide a few weeks ago, it was clear that there would be “soul searching” in the Republican Party, as many news sources put it. Well, apparently, it didn’t take very long for a consensus on one point: it’s time for the GOP to earnestly reach out to Latino voters.

This comes in the wake of a slew of sources trying to make sense of the election results, mostly by slicing up the American electorate to generalize a narrative about it. Do we as Americans enjoying being categorized and then generalized about? No. But I think, at this point, demographic groups are still just one of the best ways we know to digest large amounts of social data.

One of the most popular ways to examine ourselves is through the racial/ethnic lens: Obama had a lockdown on the black vote, with latinos breaking for him 71% to Romney’s 27%, and almost 60% of white voters preferring Romney. Jews were reliably Democratic, but perhaps becoming less so, and it seems no one bothered to count the Native American vote, even though they may have tipped some western Senate races to the Democrats.

Others have sliced the country up by age, gender, education, religion, or class. The gap between the parties on all of these (except maybe education) was quite wide. Mathis at The Atlantic thinks that almost all of these are really just facets of Republicans losing the urban vote.

With all these points of view, it makes a lot of sense that Republicans see their future with the Latino vote. Getting the youth vote would be very hard at this point, and would probably involve embracing gay marriage and some form of environmentalism, alienating the religious right and the business wing of the party. Winning over women would require flexibility on contraception, abortion, and the idea of “traditional family values,” all of which are rather central to the GOP’s current social platform. It seems they have all but written off blacks as Democrat cronies beholden to liberals for handouts, and with that attitude, they are unlikely to attract too many African American voters anytime soon. Same for the very poor.

Latinos, on the other hand, could be welcomed into the party with less painful policy changes. Although I hate the implication that they are one-issue voters, immigration reform is still very important to Latinos, as evidenced by exit poll responses. Shifting to a softer stance on immigration is not as hard because the business community and the libertarian wing of the party are already for it. The national security hawks will want strong border security, but could be convinced not to oppose citizenship reforms. The religious right will be heartened by the perception of Latinos as very religiously Christian. This just leaves the xenophobes and the “They took errr jobs!” folks who will be unhappy. But if the conservative thought leaders and talking heads start softening their rhetoric, I hope it might dull some of this sentiment. Either way, it’s not like those types of people are going to suddenly flee the GOP and vote Green Party.

Marco Rubio

Look Hispanics! We’ve got Marco Rubio! Now please vote for us.

There is already strong evidence of this shift. FOX News’ Sean Hannity immediately softened his hardline stance on immigration after the election, saying, “I think you control the border first, you create a pathway for those people that are here, you don’t say you gotta home. And that is a position that I’ve evolved on.” Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of FOX, signaled a new tack for the conservative network, tweeting: “Must have sweeping, generous immigration reform,make existing law- abiding Hispanics welcome. Most are hard working family people.” Charles Krauthammer, another anti-amnesty FOX hardliner, also softened his position while speaking on the air. John Boehner has signaled more willingness to work on the issue, and Republicans like Marco Rubio, Lindsay Graham, and John McCain, who have always favored a more open position towards Latino immigrants, are starting to find the wind at their backs.

I believe many Latinos, for their part, will be willing to reciprocate this change of heart. Some Latino communities lean conservative on social values, and are open to more libertarian economic principles, especially those that run small businesses or have been economically successful in the U.S. Others believe more strongly in economic justice and a robust safety net, even while they might sympathize with the GOP’s religiosity and focus on a strong family unit. In this way, working class Latinos are not that different from the rest of the U.S. working class, and purging racist/xenophobic sentiments from the Republican Party would make some Latinos feel like they have a legitimate choice between ideals. Latinos come from such a diversity of backgrounds that there really is no reason for them to behave like a bloc… unless one party systematically treats them that way to their detriment. At the same time, Republicans may have an overstated view of Latinos’ “traditional values,” since a majority now support gay marriage, and in general Latinos are less likely to vote based on social issues. This is especially true of younger folks.

Despite some flaws in their theory, however, this pragmatic shift in the GOP is a good thing. It means immigration reform might be the first major issue in recent memory where we see bipartisan cooperation. There will still be many disagreements on the details, but for the first time, both parties seem to have major incentives to get something done, and appear to building the will to do so.

Still, it feels like something is missing from my little analysis here… did I forget to mention something or someone? Oh that’s right…

ASIANS

Asian Americans

Photo: Getty Images

How come everyone leaves out Asians when talking about voting blocs? Maybe because they are so diverse, coming from so many different countries… wait, same for Latinos. Ok, maybe it’s because they don’t vote as a bloc? Well guess what: Asian Americans voted for Obama by an even larger margin than Latinos. 73% of Asian Americans chose the Obaminator, decisively handing him a victory.

The GOP’s relationship with Latinos is extremely important, but I think they are missing a huge wakeup call from the Asian community. Bill Clinton only won 31% of the Asian vote twenty years ago, so this is a constituency that Republicans have been steadily losing, despite it representing on average the most affluent racial group.

And the cherry on top: Asians are now the fastest growing immigrant group in the United States. This has not been widely circulated, so I’ll give it a moment to sink in. Read that again: Asians are now the fastest growing immigrant group in the United States. Despite the way everyone talks about Latinos, they are not the fastest growing immigrant group anymore. When our immigration policies are changed, the changes will be mostly affecting Asians, for as long as this trend continues.

Darth Romney Hates ChinaSo that means that while the GOP is scrambling to whip out their “Learn in Your Car” Spanish tapes, they should also consider talking a little less crazy about China. Because 3.4 million Chinese Americans probably don’t like it when you sound like you want to kick their home country in the balls while shouting, “America, f*** yeah!” Supporting more Asian Americans to run for office and not taking the Asian community for granted probably wouldn’t hurt either (for both parties).

And that is the extent of the analysis I feel like doing on the election and it’s aftermath. Good day!