Monday, May 23, 2016

Why Trump will (probably) be Trumped

Time and time again, people have predicted Trump's fall, and have been proved wrong. Trump is now the presumptive GOP nominee, and the GOP race actually finished before the Democratic nomination. Does that mean that Trump will continue to do well, and win the presidency. No. Despite Trump's rise, the general election electorate is very different from the GOP electorate. Neither the demographics nor the electoral college favor Trump. That being said, Trump has proved before that he is capable of an upset.

To begin, Trump is the most hated general election candidate in US history since the beginning of polling. In the most recent Real Clear Politics average of polls (5-6-5/19), Trump's net favorability rating was an atrocious -24.2%. Even Clinton, who is also hated, still has a favorability rating nearly 5 points better, standing at a less terrible -19%. Among groups that the GOP needs to improve with to win, the situation is even worse. Trump calling for a wall to be built on the Mexican border, for the deportation of all illegal immigrants, and calling Mexican illegal immigrants "rapists" has certainly not helped among one key demographic, Hispanics. Among Hispanics, according to the most recent polling in late April 2016, Trump's net favorably rating is a nearly impossible -78%, compared to Clinton's +29%. Obama won 71% of the Hispanic vote in 2012.  It appears because of Trump, Clinton would do even better than Obama. In the above poll 76% said they would vote for Clinton.

Trump does not do much better among women. Polls taken in March have Trump's net favorability rating among women around -50%, while Clinton averages slightly below even. In nearly all polls Trump is down among women by over double digits, a recent NBC poll has him down 15%, a little more than Romney's loss by 11 percent to Obama. However, when women make up about half the voters, 4% is a big deal. Trump has certainly not helped himself with comments he has made about women, whether it be Meagan Kelly, Carly Fiorina, or others.

To make matters worse, Trump appears to have a built-in disadvantage in the Electoral College. To illustrate this, here is CNN's swing state map. Swing states are shown in yellow.

Of those states, according to the Census in 2014, about 1/5 of Colorado's and Florida's population are hispanic, and 1/4th of Nevada's population is hispanic. This number of hispanics in the U.S. has only increased since then, with the growth rate well above the growth rate of the total U.S. population. Those states have a combined 44 electoral delegates. If Clinton wins those three and holds on to the rest of the Democratic leaning and solid Democratic states, she has already won, even if Trump wins all the rest of the swing states (which is a big if) which combine for 66 delegates. If Clinton drops either Nevada or Colorado, but keeps Florida, she still wins. And if she drops Florida, but keeps wins Nevada and Colorado, along with Virginia and Wisconsin, both states Obama won in 2008 and 2012, Clinton wins.

All of that being said, Trump has chance to win, and I think a better chance than many people realize. It should be encouraging for Trump that his net favorably has risen and Clinton's has fallen, in fact using the three most recent polls, Trump and Clinton are even, each at -20.333. Clinton's net favorability rating not rising can be attributed to the Democratic Nomination race not being over. However, it actually falling may point to deeper problems. It is possible that some of it is due to Bernie supporters being bitter, and Bernie going as far as calling for the system unfair. This option would likely be best for Clinton, after all, the 2008 Democratic race was bitter, but the party united then. A worse alternative would be that her image is being tarnished among all groups. That would make it more difficult for her to get the post-nomination bump that Trump has gotten.

As far as that post-nomination bump, it points to the idea that Trump has united the GOP, and remarkably quickly. For all the talk of never-Trumpers, people who are actually willing to follow through with it are a tiny minority. After Trump being down for the entire cycle, he is now in a statistical tie with Clinton. Once again, this points to the election not necessary being a blowout like 2008, but a closer election, such as 2004 or even 2000.

Although Trump is catching up, polls at this time in the cycle are not particularly reliable. Trump appears to have gotten a bump from his party uniting, and if history is any guide Clinton will get the same thing. Thus, Clinton is likely to be doing better in both her net favorably rating and the matchup polls once she inevitably raps up the nomination (unless she gets indicted). Additionally, the election is decided buy the Electoral College System, not by the popular vote. Clinton has a built in advantage here (according to CNN, 237 safe Democrat or lean Democrat, vs 191 safe Republican or lean Republican). Trump would probably need to turn states in the rust-belt with large white non-hispanic working class populations. According to the Census, as of 2014 Michigan is 76% white Pennsylvania is 78% white, and Wisconsin (not entirely a rust-belt state, but Eastern Wisconsin, its most populous part, is) at about 82%. From 1992 onward, all three states have voted Democrat in every Presidential Election. If Trump were to win these states, Ohio (which he almost certainly would given that the these other, more Democratic leaning, Rust-belt states went for him) and either NC or Florida, he would win the election. If he won both Florida and Ohio, he could afford to lose Wisconsin and Michigan, or just lost Pennsylvania, or lose Pennsylvania and Wisconsin but win any other state. However, turning any of those three rust-belt states a difficult task. A rust-belt revolution is probably wishful thinking. So while Trump does have a chance greater than zero, and higher than many think, by no means is this a 50-50 election. Barring a drastic change, such as a recession, a liberal third party candidate gaining traction, a major terrorist attack, or a major scandal for Clinton, it is more likely than not that Trump will finally be Trumped.

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