Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Clinton vs. Trump: Predicting The Electoral College

While many of us remain terrified at the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency, others believe that the often maligned Electoral College may save America from the forces of modern day fascism embodied by Trump and his followers.  I for one hope that these prognostications prove accurate. Other wise, I may be tempted to activate my dual citizenship and move to Roatán in the Caribbean. One such predictive can be found at Huffington Post.  As the piece notes, to stop a Trump presidency, all sane and decent Americans need to go to the polls and vote come November.  Here are some article highlights:
President Donald J. Trump? In this feverish year, the most recent symptom of distemper is media blather that — based on polling nearly 6 months out — America is on the cusp of electing Donald Trump. Before this conjures the megalomaniacal horror of Trump’s inaugural address, let me offer a consoling reality — that political fun house mirror known as the Electoral College.
We may not love it but, like shingles and pneumonia, this particular college will forever be with us. And so, a spoiler alert. At the end of this piece, I’m revealing who won the presidency in November, right down to the last electoral vote. Faced with a national nervous collapse, it seems unkind to wait.
I’m not alone in trying to be helpful. One day after the Indiana primary, the New York Times predicted the electoral vote count for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. A day earlier, I went through a similar exercise, and got an identical count.
My conclusion? Either the folks at the Times and I are idiotic to precisely the same degree, or this really isn’t all that hard. Since then, a brace of experts — Larry Sabato , the Cook Political Report, and the Rothenberg & Gonzáles Political Report — have landed on or near this same number. The fun for me, and I hope for you, is in examining why.
[A] spate of recent polls matching him against Clinton have caused the ever-febrile commentariat, ravenous for plot twists, to announce that Trump could become our president. This chorus of lemmings ignores a couple of factors which, unsurprisingly, have closed the polling margin
More important, it undervalues the fundamentals working against Trump’s candidacy. Unlike poll numbers, these factors are not transient — they are baked in the ossified cake of the electoral college.
In three weeks as the GOP’s presumptive nominee, Trumps behavior suggests a man who is driven, not by strategy or consistent beliefs, but by a profound personality disorder which limits his day-to-day ability to be tactical or “presidential.” And it is a mortal lock that, when it comes to exposing Trump as an imbecile, the Democrats will be as merciless as Republicans were spineless.
Armed with money and ferocity, from June to November the Clinton campaign will assault persuadable voters with evidence of Trump’s narcissism, vulgarity, ignorance and instability — not to mention his callousness and failures as a businessman. Their biggest challenge is winnowing print, video and tweets for the most repellent moments in an infinity of repulsiveness. 
But Trump faces a problem as insoluble as himself — demographics. He carried the Republican primaries — where there is a market for this sort of thing — by trashing Hispanics, Muslims and, with the zeal of a dedicated misogynist, women. But among the larger electorate this is a very bad idea.
Trump may expand his party’s share of shrinking demographic groups, but he will shrink its share of those which are expanding.
Trump’s base is voters who make less than $30,000; or have high school degrees or less; or are driven by racial antagonism; or detest the broader social tolerance among the populace as a whole. Or all the above — it begs stating that these characteristics overlap.
Clinton’s biggest worry is that a significant chunk of Sanders voters will take a walk. This is serious — the attenuated race is breeding bitterness against both Clinton and the party. But here, again, Trump is helpful: for Bernie’s legions to assist Trump, tacitly or otherwise, is irrational once one considers the issues and the stakes — as another progressive icon, Elizabeth Warren, is already pointing out.
So what does all this add up to in November?
A look at the electoral college map pretty much tells us all we need to know. However absurd it may be as an institution, the electoral college neatly captures our political polarization. A few pertinent facts from recent elections . . . . 
9 states and the District of Columbia have voted for a Democrat in the last six presidential contests. These alone account for 242 electoral votes — a mere 28 short of the 270 needed to win the presidency.
By comparison, the 13 states which voted Republican in the last six elections contain 102 electoral votes.
[R]ecent elections have turned on the electoral votes of seven swing states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia. Indubitably, the electoral college distorts our campaigns — protecting bad candidates from complete disaster, while rendering all but a few states political orphans. Other than to serve as an ATM for candidates, California never sees them; Ohioans must feel that the contestants have settled in their living room.  Barack Obama carried all seven swing states twice. If Hillary Clinton takes a mere two or three — or Florida alone — it’s over.
Like the Times and Larry Sabato, I give Clinton every swing state and throw in North Carolina. The result? Clinton 347; Trump 191.
In general, voters tend to revert to their party loyalties, which could bandage Trump against further electoral bleeding. But if you like to imagine The Donald suffering a bit more, add Arizona and Missouri. Now Clinton more than doubles Trump, 368 to 170. Should you put up your feet, have a drink, and envision Trump plummeting toward 40 percent, the unique sclerosis of the electoral college will, at last, be tested.
A word of warning. The one way to mess this up is by not voting in November. The electoral college may be a cumbersome beast, but it still needs feeding. 

1 comment:

EdA said...

As Paul Weyrich pointed out so many years ago -- but NO so many years, about the only way that Republiscum can continue to hold onto office is by voter suppression. And, while I do live in civilization, I have seen no indication that the Democratic Party, or any major part of it, under the misleadership of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, has been attempting to mount even a spasmodic or spastic effort at promoting voter registrations or of mounting law suits resulting from already documented voter suppression during primaries.

Further, in at least two Senate races (Pennsylvania and Florida), the DNC establishment has been throwing its weight at getting Republicans or next-best-thing elected.