Wednesday, 4 May 2016

US Election 2016 - Riding The Trump Tiger

US Election 2016

Riding The Trump Tiger

It's official: after Indiana, the Yuuuge Lying Demagogue (aka "The Donald", aka "Donald Drumpf", aka Donald Trump) is the last man standing.

Cruz is out. Kasich is out. Barring some sort of Republican Party manoeuvre at the convention, Trump will be their nominee for the Presidential election in November.

Already, and unsurprisingly, senior Republicans are playing the power-worship game instead of standing on some sort of principle. As per the CBC:

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus declared the race over, saying on Twitter that Trump would be the party's presumptive nominee.

"We all need to unite and focus on defeating (at)HillaryClinton," he wrote.

This does suggest that perhaps the Party is going to ride the Trump tiger rather than try anything at the convention.

This is an extremely risky strategy, which I'm hoping will backfire disastrously for the GOP.

As I noted in my previous post on the topic, in the 21st century, the overall springtime polling leader in a Presidential election tends to go on to win in November; in 2016 that's been Clinton. Polling since then has showed Trump with a narrow lead in one national poll and a tie in another, both by the same pollster. Other national polls have shown Clinton with leads ranging from narrow to blow-out. It's no guarantee, especially in this election cycle, but the odds are currently in Clinton's favour.

Also favouring her are their comparative favourability ratings, as well as those of her party.

While Clinton's favourability ratings been consistently negative over the course of this primary season (she went into net unfavourable territory about this time last year, and hasn't made up for it), she's well ahead of Trump. Trump is 6.5 points up in overall unfavourability, Clinton is up 6.5 points in overall favourability. The unfavourable/favourable margin heavily favours Clinton, with a margin of around -15 unfavourable, as against Trump's margin of over -30 (negative numbers here represent net unfavourability), even if Clinton is viewed unfavourably overall.

As for the parties at large, the gulf between them is much larger: the Democratic Party is only 1.6 points back from a net favourable rating (unfavourable 47.2 vs. favourable 45.6), whereas the Republicans are in the gutter, over 30 points back.

It's also crucial to look at key voting demographics.

Women. Although it's a significant generalisation, to the point of being unfair, to lump women together as a voting bloc - they're the largest voting bloc in the country, and they run the gamut of economic, racial, and religious demographics - it's useful to note that as an aggregate they really, really don't like Trump, and from his own commentary it seems clear Trump doesn't particularly like them, either - save, perhaps, as sex objects, a category in which he has included his own daughter (surely, the epitome of class). This has resulted in Trump having what appear to be unprecedentedly low support from and favourability among women voters in the Republican Party alone, never mind non-Republicans.

The story doesn't really get much better among demographics when broken down by race: he's only consistently and reliably leading among whites. In effect, Trump is betting on disaffected white males as his path to victory, and it's not clear they can deliver. Male voter turnout has been in steady decline, occurring at a faster rate than the decline in overall voter turnout. Even if Trump can bring some white males back to the polls, will they be enough if he galvanises other key demographics against him? As noted in the Politico article:

The GOP establishment, or what’s left of it, realized this several years ago, and tried to fight it. Following the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee issued a harsh post-mortem focusing on the need to change the party’s image among minorities and women. “The nation’s demographic changes add to the urgency of recognizing how precarious our position has become,” it proclaimed. “Unless Republicans are able to grow our appeal ... the changes tilt the playing field even more in the Democratic direction.”

The biggest problem identified in that report, and the broadest range of efforts made since then, concerns the desperate need for Republicans to do better with Latino voters in 2016 than Romney did in 2012, when he won just 27 percent of Hispanic voters—worse than John McCain’s 31 percent in 2008, and well behind George W. Bush’s 40 percent in 2004 and 35 percent in 2000, respectively. Polling suggests that—despite considerable demagoguery of their own—Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz , each of them a son of Cuban immigrants, have relatively benign reputations among Hispanics.

Not Trump. He couldn’t have done more damage to that plan if he’d thrown a grenade at it.

In short, the Republican Party finds itself in a bind: block Trump at the convention despite his now standing alone in the field, and risk utter defeat because of a voter revolt, or go along for the ride. In which case the Party may find itself riding into oblivion, flaming out alongside Trump.

The problem is, it seems the Republicans are bound and determined to take the country - and, courtesy of their obstruction regarding climate change, the world - along with them.

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