A few articles I’m reading over coffee this morning (Trump Will Never be President Edition):
Now that Clinton and Trump have more or less locked up their respective party’s nominations, the horse-race coverage will turn to the general election contest. Since the media has an incentive to make it look like a close one, get ready for the “Donald Trump can win” and “Trump’s path to the Presidency” articles. We’ll hear more about what an awful candidate Clinton is and all the baggage she’ll bring to the campaign. Trump can pivot back to the center, they’ll say, and look more “Presidential” (whatever that means). Much will be made of his record number of GOP primary votes.
Stay tuned, but I’m not buying it. Pundits using the “record number of primary votes” line will forget to mention that Clinton has more primary votes that Trump in a cycle with higher GOP but lower Democratic primary turnout. Trump appeals to a single small – albeit very vocal – demographic group: angry white men. He’s alienated every other group, and they’ll turn out to vote against him. If you think Trump can turn blue states red, take a look at this interactive page at FiveThirtyEight: “What Would it Take to Turn Blue States Red.” Play with this a bit and you’ll see that he could increase white voter turn out to 90% and still lose unless minority voter turnout drops. Anyone think blacks and Hispanics will forget to vote for a candidate who wants got an endorsement from the KKK and would deport Latino families?
Even if he did manage to turn out white voters in greater numbers it’s not clear he can match Romney’s 2012 level of support. Evangelicals, for example, may not support Trump in the numbers they have in the past. Evangelical leaders like Russell Moore have openly called upon them to reject Trump as “not the moral leader we need.” Moore runs the policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, and holds some sway in that community.
Finally, if you want a sense of arguments Trump supporters make in Conservative circles, take a look at this blog post by Tom White at Virginia Right. He makes a case that the US has moved to the left, and “will not elect an establishment Republican and they will not elect a Conservative.” He (correctly, I believe) notes that conservatives “are simply too small a portion of the electorate to win nationwide or even statewide in Virginia.” Trump, however, is an “enigma to the Democrats” who has done something no Republican has done in decades – he has tapped into the anger that many people have at the failures of our leadership no matter the party.” White believes that “excitement and support [for Trump] will only grow as Trump goes on the offensive against Hillary.”
Again, I don’t buy it. Donald Trump is no enigma – he’s a well-known celebrity with a long record as a businessman. Clinton will be able to show that he’s been happy to let government bail him out when his businesses failed, and that he’s part of the “sending jobs overseas” problem. And while he may have tapped into an undercurrent of anger among disaffected whites, especially men, the source of this anger is racial resentment, not leadership failure. Finally, it’s not clear what new attacks on Hillary would be effective in building “excitement” for a Trump Presidency. Benghazi? Ask Trey Gowdy how that worked out for him.
Hillary Clinton is not a naturally charismatic candidate. She’s a policy wonk with a serious grasp of issues and a lot of experience with policy implementation. She understands unintended consequences and how to apply lessons learned. Clinton is not the Progressive voice I would prefer – yes, I’ve been feeling the Bern.. Imagine, for example, Bernie Sanders standing next to Trump during a Presidential debate, pointing at him, and saying “That’s the problem: billionaires taking over politics!” Clinton can’t make the same Progressive case. But no politician on the scene today can match her in a policy discussion, whatever the context. Hillary Clinton is a solid choice as a transitional liberal leader who can move policy to the left as the US becomes a more progressive nation.
Trump won’t win because the power of reactionary forces are fading. Further, he and his supporters will alienate everyone in the country except each other and turn out growing minority and liberal constituencies, bringing the political shift to the left that much sooner. Just take a look at the comments section at the Virginia Right article linked above, or comments on any Trump-related Bearing Drift blog post. Then look at how Trump has brought new minority voters to the process. He won’t turn a single blue state red and may even lose Utah. The real question: how badly will he hurt GOP candidates down ballot?