Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Can Donald Trump Win? Well Yes He Can

There has been a lot of discussion online and elsewhere about whether or not Donald Trump can win the general election in the fall and why he was able to become the presumptive Republican nominee. At this time I still think that the advantage that Democrats have in the electoral college will be a bit too much for Mr. Trump to overcome. But things are changing. There were some recent polls that showed Trump tightening the race or actually beating Clinton in the battleground states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Imagine that.  
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the likely general election presidential nominees, are running neck-and-neck in the battleground states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, results driven by wide gender and racial gaps among voters, a new general election poll shows.
Clinton edges Trump in Florida and Pennsylvania, while Trump leads in Ohio, according to the Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday.
In both Florida and Pennsylvania the poll shows Clinton narrowly over Trump, 43% to 42%. In Ohio, Trump leads Clinton 43% to 39%.
"At this juncture, Trump is doing better in Pennsylvania than the GOP nominees in 2008 and 2012. And the two candidates are about where their party predecessors were at this point in Ohio and Florida," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll, in a memo accompanying the poll results. 
And despite comments about Mexican illegal immigrants that have inspired a fierce reaction from across the political spectrum Trump is currently polling slightly better among Hispanics than Romney did.  Now it's still very early. Some of these polls are outliers. It's not time to panic if you are a Clinton supporter and/or a Democrat. After all there are a few Republicans who would rather vote for Clinton than Trump

That's not saying much but it does show that Clinton is a weak candidate who has so far not provided an explanation of why she's running or what vision she has for the country. There is a reason why, despite Clinton's presumptive nominee status, that she has still been unable to put down a feisty socialist from Vermont who is getting nastier as time passes.
Clinton is not an inspirational candidate. She's the candidate of "Eat your spinach because it's good for you dammit!" or "I'm running because it's my turn." She doesn't seem to offer much more than that. And whatever advantage she has among women may be offset by the advantage that Trump holds among men. If Trump can continue to nibble away at the advantage that Clinton has over women while maintaining or extending his lead among men, then we could be looking at President Trump in January of 2017. On the other hand Clinton is only trailing Trump in Georgia by four points. The Republican solid South may be starting to crack thanks to migration of non-Southerners to the region, a presumptive Republican nominee with extremely high negatives and a growing Hispanic electorate which tends to vote Democratic. No one knows what will happen. I do know though that people who are broadly speaking on the left need to stop assuming that Trump will lead the Republican ticket to electoral disaster of Biblical proportions. That still may be the most likely outcome. But if Trump can translate those record breaking primary voters and rallies to general election voters he can win. All Trump needs to do is to hold on to the South (absent North Carolina and Florida) and "steal" two or three states which normally vote Democratic in national elections. 

The most likely areas for Trump to do this are in the "Rust Belt" Midwest and western Pennsylvania. Trump is targeting Michigan. Look for future Trump emphasis on down market white voters in places like Ohio, Indiana, Colorado, Florida and elsewhere. Again, right now, I still don't think this will be enough to put him over the top. But it's the only thing that could. You could argue that we've seen some of the Trump voters come out before to support Sarah Palin when she was on the ticket. And their support wasn't enough then. But President and VP are different. Either way this is going to be an exciting campaign. Historically it would be something else if the Democrats held on to the White House for three successive elections. That hasn't happened since the Republicans did it starting in 1980. The Democratic electoral debacles of the eighties led to a rebranding and reworking of the Democratic party. If the Republicans lose again then they will need to undergo a similar process. The Republican leadership may no longer be able to hold together a fractious group of nationalists, free market purists, evangelicals, big business supporters, and people who don't like them. On the other hand should the Democrats lose then perhaps they will have to rethink the emphasis on some "social justice" issues. We shall see. 
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