|Click to enlarge. Not to be used without accreditation: Kevin J. Lenard © 2015|
Why is it that Hillary Clinton looks so damn smug every time 'The Donald' is mentioned around her lately? Because she's crunched the numbers (and she knows even Bernie Sanders is currently running second to her). If a vote was run today without party affiliation playing a role, Trump would have only 11% of America's vote, Sanders 16% and Clinton about 22%.
Given the shift in American voting behaviour in the past two elections, with Millennials taking on slightly more responsibility for getting out to vote than their preceding youth cohorts did, and because Millennials overall tend to be more liberal than earlier generations did (even young white Texans grew up idolizing, and dressing like, black rap artists), there has been a shift to the left/liberal in America's voting tendency. This shift got another boost when the average American finally realized that George W. led America into war solely in order to make his Republican 1% supporters richer by forcing poor Americans to provide the young soldiers and taxpayers to buy arms from their corporations. The 'fight for American freedom' by killing non-Christian/Jewish brown or yellow people no longer has the acquiescent glow it once did.
On top of these facts, the Democrats under Obama have delivered some very positive changes for America (the economy is in better shape now and unemployment is significantly lower, plus "The Affordable Health Act" really has made heath care more universally affordable). And this happened while Americans witnessed the Republicans doing exactly what they promised to do when 'that black man' was first elected -- fueled by the underlying racism that has made so many white conservatives apoplectic that they have had a black President, the Republicans have done their best to make Obama a 'lame duck' by blocking everything he tried to do, thus making Congress largely dysfunctional.
So the Democrats were ALREADY virtually guaranteed a win in 2016 as long as they manage to field a palatable candidate, and Hillary looks like one (after Obama the door is wide open for the first female President). What Trump has managed to do with his blustery campaign is solidify the win for the Dems.
How? Very simply, on the bell curve of American voting preferences (and the actual percentages are immaterial to my argument, and they're likely universal to the human race), about 16% of Americans are hard core, intractable conservatives and about the same are dyed-in-the-wool liberal voters who will never, ever vote for "those other people." These extreme minorities cannot see any merit in anything the other extremists value most. Gallup shows about 30% of Americans self-identifying as Republicans and about the same as Democrats, with another 15% of "independent swing voters" who 'lean' towards either party, but I'm talking about the hard core half of each 30% voting block.
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[Ironically the Republicans have consistently made the mistake (I believe that the advent of the Internet and the noise from the extreme right minority 'Tea Party' has led them to believe they MUST pander to their most extreme niche) of speaking loudest to the very group who are incapable of ever voting for any party BUT the GOP, so they are shooting themselves in the foot. What are those voters going to do if they don't like 'the party line?" Not vote? It is the centrists, the independents who lean neither way, who always decide the vote in the US, and they have no interest in either party's extreme views. Note that NO billionaire is stupid enough to NOT be able to crunch the numbers -- so I marvel at Trump's latest efforts to pump up his megalomaniac ego through this latest theatrical performance to gain media exposure despite knowing he has no chance to win the Presidency -- or is this actually a very strategic effort by a very smart Conservative outsider to revitalize the Republican Party -- an organization that has lost it way by pandering to the very minority that Trump makes a great show of sucking up to, in order to set up for a realistic run in 2020?]
What Trump has done is to SHOUT that he is a member of this far-right wing minority. He spends all his time regurgitating exactly what these folks, who are genetically hardwired for prejudice (i.e. "anyone who does not look like a member of our tribe is to be feared and pushed away") and nationalism (i.e. "our people are the only 'chosen' people"), want to hear. He has done it so well that, even though some of his vitriol is abhorrent to right wingers who still believe in ALL of the Constitution, he has managed to win over the entire 16% and quite a few of the less extreme conservative voters.
Speaking of uncontrollable fears that are hardwired and therefore intractable/un-swayable, look at the difference between how 'hardwired-for-liberal' people answer these questions versus the 'hardwired for conservative' people do (quite scary, really) in this recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll:
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But again, the numbers aren't important because what "The Donald" has done is advertise to the most neutral 'swing voters' just how distasteful and really anti-American (that Constitution thing again) the far right really are. If he wins the GOP nomination, given the current political 'temperature' in America, the Democrats will win by a landslide even with a woman running for the top spot. Trump is simply too extreme (in this current incarnation of his). If he loses but goes independent, he will have effectively split the Republican vote in two, and even if he entirely disappears from the contest (only to re-emerge in 2019 to run again at age 73), the damage to the Republican's message (IF they are ever smart enough to go back to focusing on the moderate swing voters who will determine the winner), is now far too debilitating for them to ever recover from -- especially after they ran down their country's elected President by doing their utmost to make him into a 'lame duck' mercilessly for eight years and have been foolishly pandering to the Tea Party.
It will likely literally take a 'reformation' for the Republicans to woo back the centrist swing voters, unless the Democrats sadly screw things up severely in the next four to eight years.