Even though not every convention speaker has invoked the name of Donald Trump in Cleveland this week, there is no question that the week is all about him. Actually, every week during the past year has been about him. He has run against the Republican Party establishment and laid bare just how hopelessly divided the party is as an institution. No one could beat him even though he broke every rule and ran a campaign ridiculing the very system that his base hates. And they hate the party, too. Witness the boos for Mitch McConnell and for Reince Priebus – and witness the missing bodies of party establishment icons and at least half the delegates by 9:45PM both nights so far.
There can be no question that Trump faces an uphill battle from here. He has not nurtured the more moderate base of the party. His choice of Mike Pence at least prevents social conservatives from taking shots at him. But what about the big money donors and the US Senators and Congressional members he will need to get out the vote in November? Frankly, at least right now, many of them are running away from him – exactly the same way that Democratic Party establishment figures ran away from and against George McGovern in 1972. McGovern lost in a landslide against the detested and dark figure of Richard Nixon.
The demographics look bleak for Trump. About 30% of this year’s vote will be non-white. Every indication suggests that at least 70% of Hispanics, 90% of African Americans, and 75% of Asian-Americans will vote Democrat. Even those percentages are conservative. So if we figure 130 million voters, a reasonable guess, that means approximately 39-40 million non-white voters – with the Democrat winning around 29-30 million of those votes. If we look at the 91 million white voters, Trump would have to win at least 65-66 million of them just to win the popular vote. That means his winning somewhere around 71% of whites. That is a very tall order when we consider that his two GOP nominee predecessors – John McCain and Mitt Romney – only achieved around 57% of the white vote. It is an even taller order when we see how Trump has thus far alienated GOP women, many of the few non-whites who lean toward the GOP, and younger voters – on top of the more moderate establishment types.
Figure that Millennials are 18-37 years old and over 40% of them are non-white and vast majorities of these accept an America that is inclusive and not viscerally anti-immigrant, anti- Muslim, and disrespectful of women. This maybe a little simplistic because these numbers do overlap. But a Trump victory is a daunting challenge.
Except that he is running against Hillary Clinton, whose lack of favor with voters presently matches Trump’s. Barack Obama represented change, hope, youth, and a transition to a new American demographic. Bill Clinton represented change, a new Democrat, flexibility, an age cohort (Boomers) that were ready to take over after the two oldest American Presidents – Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush – had served. Thus far, Hillary Clinton represents only herself, her lifelong ambition, her turn (which she understands but most people do not get). Perhaps another wannabe scandal shoe does not drop – but there have been enough shoes to fill Imelda Marcos’ closet. When the Democratic National Convention meets next week, will she be able to reinvent herself again? And whether or not she decides to represent continuity of the Obama administration or bold new change, can she even be believed? More about her in my next post.
As things presently stand, this is a very close election. History and demographic trends suggest that this should not even be close and that the GOP should lose in a landslide. But history has not mattered yet in this election cycle, has it?