Thoughts on Trump and the 2016 Presidential Election
by Tom Donelson on May 8, 2016 at 1:16 PM
There are two scenarios: One in which Trump can win and one in which Trump gets thumped. Scenario one: Trump needs to win 60 percent plus of white votes but he also needs to improve his standing among minorities voters. Despite the idea floated by some that Trump can bring enough White voters, in particular blue collar workers to overcome the Democratic advantages among minority voters. Trump has to receive enough of the Democratic base, including minorities, to capture the White House. That is a fact that can’t be denied.
This is what I wrote last fall, “Ann Coulter has made it clear that for her, the litmus test is immigration restrictions starting with building the wall and deportation. Her political strategy is what a black conservative friend of mine, Vernon Robinson, noted, “the search for one more white voter.” In an era in which Hispanics and Asians are playing greater roles in battleground states, Coulter doesn’t believe that Republicans can make inroads within the minority communities and wants the GOP to double down on white voters outreach…While Coulter is correct that the GOP can’t outbid the Democrats on the immigration issue, they can succeed in getting enough minorities to win key battleground states by emphasizing other issues. To have a strategy simply to increase white voters is a long term losing strategy. The last time Republicans won more than 60% of the white voters in the past forty years was the 1984 election in which Reagan won 64%. Many Republicans in 2014 managed to get enough minority voters like Cory Gardner did to win Colorado. (Gardner in his Senate race in Colorado and Scott Walker in Wisconsin actually underperformed among white voters than the GOP nationally but got enough of the Democratic base including minorities to win.)”
I added, “Trump has opened the door to a Republican compromise on immigration but his trade policy runs counter to Republican and Conservative support for free trade. Republicans and Conservatives do agree on many issues including the size of government and the need to reform taxes. Immigration is an issue as much as it is about tactics.” The secret about Trump is that after his immigration reforms, there will be as many illegals allowed to have legal status as even with the hated Gang of 8, and if he promotes that aspect of his plan as opposed to just the border security issue, he might just win enough Hispanics. Our own data shows while two thirds of Hispanics support legal status, about a quarter of those who support legal status don’t support a path to citizenship. Hispanic immigrants start new businesses at a rate nearly four times than that of Asian immigrants and their participation in the work force is higher than non-Hispanic whites. Many Hispanics will respond to a message that talks about opportunity to succeed and many black voters view the high incarceration of blacks a result of Bill Clinton’s criminal reforms so tension exists between Black voters and Hillary Clinton. If they don’t come out in at least big numbers as they did in 2012, Hillary could lose Ohio and Pennsylvania. Could Trump win over 30% of Hispanic voters and get into double digits among blacks? If he does, he can win Ohio, Florida, Virginia and keep North Carolina, along with winning New Hampshire and/or Iowa, he wins the Presidential election. Hillary Clinton is a horrible candidate and if another 9/11 happens or if the FBI director resigns over a failure to indict Hillary Clinton then Trump can rump. (We ran some anti-Hillary ads in Florida from January through the first week of March. While we didn’t mention a Republican candidate name, Donald Trump actually received a four point bounce among Hispanic voter and a two point bounce among women voters. It is not impossible for Trump to make inroads into the Democratic base but he has to change his approach among minorities and women.)
Second scenario is that Trump gets thumped. Despite recent Rasmussen showing Trump winning by 2% and battleground polls showing a close race, the reality is that most polls show Trump getting thumped by big margins. Even if you add the Battleground poll and Rasmussen, Trump polls consistently in the low 40’s. Trump has a woman voter problem and a minority problem. John McCain lost single white female by 20 points to Obama in 2008 and had only 55% of white voters and Romney lost single white single female voters by 4 points and he won white women overall by 14 points while taking nearly 60% of white voters. If Trump repeats what McCain did in 2008, then it is a romp for Hillary Clinton. Trump will actually lose the Electoral College by a larger margin than McCain as he will end up losing Arizona because of his present standing among minorities. Presently, he is polling poorly in Red States like Utah so it should be understood that he is now in serious trouble. If he doesn’t reach 60% of white voters and if he doesn’t perform well among women, then he is doomed and the GOP is doomed along with him. Throw in a poor performance among minorities; this is a rout for Hillary. Trump is the big risk and the GOP is now stuck with a candidate whose risk may outweigh the reward. Trump is a flawed candidate whose style fit the mood of many Republicans but the general electorate is a different matter and the free media that has aided him in the primary season could be his curse in the general election.
Trump has fractured the GOP and the conservative movement. David French summed up his impact on the conservative media, “Trump pulled off one of the great cons in American political history — casting himself as the anti-establishment insurgent while enjoying unabashed fanboy (and fangirl) boosterism from Breitbart, Sean Hannity, Drudge, multiple Fox News personalities, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, and others. Rush Limbaugh spent countless hours boosting Trump (though he’s also said good things about Ted Cruz), and even allegedly “neutral” figures gave him far more attention and sympathetic coverage than they gave any other Republican politician. As The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf notes, the raw political power and collective audience of these individuals and outlets dwarfs any given “establishment” publication or politician.”
Breitbart has forsaken its founder mission to expand the conservative movement and has highlighted the populist movement at the expense of many free market positions of their founder. The Eagle Forum is in a state of Civil War as Phyllis Schlafly endorsed Donald Trump where others wanted Ted Cruz, and Fox’s constant cheerleading of Trump by key personalities like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Greta Van Susteren, and Eric Bolling has actually led to a slide in the ratings and now CNN has caught up with Fox in key demographics. Fox’s personalities’ support of Trump has turned off many Republicans and conservatives who were the mainstay of the network. Key conservative institutions have been damaged and as I mention in my five part series on National Populism and National Socialism, there is a war on conservatism as Trump’s victory is paving the way for two leftist Parties, if conservatives don’t respond appropriately.
In a discussion on populism and the war on free trade, I told an associate that we had not had a serious discussion about the benefits of free trade and how it has benefit us all including the Middle Class since the Reagan years. Conservatives have become lazy in their arguments and much of our debate has not been with our opponents but attacking each other. We treated many of our own worse than we did Democrats. Free trade is one good example, as I already noted, that during the 1980’s and 1990’s, the Reagan revolution led to two decades of prosperity. Free trade and increased immigration aided our economy and even many workers with high school diplomas saw their income go up. Much of Bill Clinton’s success came after he lost Congress and he worked out budget deals with Newt Gingrich, resulting in restrained spending, a major tax reduction, sound money, liberalized trade expanding and entitlement reform passing. While marginal tax rates were increased in 1993 and even the Middle Class got nailed, the reduction of capital tax after 1995 aided the 1990’s boom and Reagan policies stayed in place. As the new century began tax rates were half of what they were in 1980 and we had two decades boom, plus half of Americans, including many minorities, became members of the investor class.
The new century saw new violent conflicts, two Middle East wars, resumption of Keynesian economics on steroids and both political parties have moved away from growth oriented policies. Repeatedly in the primaries, voters made it clear that they want growth oriented policies and opportunities. On state levels, governors like Scott Walker and Mitch Daniels showed that Midwest can regain their mojo. Rick Scott followed up the success of previous Republican governors leading Florida to economic recovery from the 2007-2009 recession and Texas was a job producing machine even during the worse of the recession due to the wiliness of Texans to develop their natural resources. Many Californians are now calling Texas home. Throughout the world, many developing nations have seen less of their own living in poverty and Middle Class booming due to economic reforms and dare I say it, liberalized trade. Reagan led a world-wide revolution and showed that conservative ideas of free market and economic freedom worked and still work.
There are storms over the horizon as Obama foreign policy has led to a less safe world and we have candidates of both Parties whose economic ideas are back to the past. Trump is calling his inner Herbert Hoover and Clinton and Sanders are debating who is best qualified to bring in a Democratic Socialist America. We have relearned all that we knew in 1980’s, and now Conservatives have to begin the education process and they want to begin with themselves.