So I am interested in why people support Donald Trump. When the question was posed here the main answers were two fold:
- Cruz cannot win the general election
- If Cruz was elected he wouldn’t win any fights
I addressed #2 in my last diary. Basically Cruz is starting from the position that he will use executive authority to its fullest legal extent to advance the conservative cause, before even touching Congressional action. There are many battles that he could win that way before ever coming to Congress. Also, we can be assured he would veto bad legislation even if it means shutting down the government.
Now for electability. Let’s keep in mind that the Democratic ticket will not be headed by Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, or John F. Kennedy. We are also not running after Nixon stepped down, and the previous president has not been assassinated. Democrats win elections based on their candidate’s likability (or in the case of Truman and Johnson as a surrogate). The only two times in the last century that was not the case were Woodrow Wilson, and Jimmy Carter. To be fair though, Carter did largely run on likability and the fact that it was post Watergate sure did help, and Wilson (like Clinton) ran against a split ticket.
Instead of a charismatic Hollywood cult of personality figure the Democrats are going to decide on a crusty old harpy whose defining characteristic is “liar.” She has none of the strengths of a good Democratic candidate, and is well known for having run against the “best” Democratic politician of this generation. She will not rally the base, she will not improve turnout, she will not inspire anyone. While there are many who have gone ahead and endorsed her I doubt she will pick up much support from the current administration, and her husband ran a long time ago (back when a Democrat could win AR, LA, TN, GA, and KY, back when NY had more electoral votes than TX), and against a split Republican electorate. I don’t think his experience or support is transferable.
Hillary also has the disadvantages of incumbency without the advantages. That is, she is tied by definition to the greatest foreign policy failures of the Obama administration including (but not limited to) Benghazi, the intervention in Libya, empowering ISIS, encouraging Russian aggression, and clearing the way for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. She also runs in an economy that has been weak for nearly a decade under liberal management. She will be known as a supporter of Obamacare even as it continues its downward death spiral. One huge advantage incumbents have is the unwillingness of people to admit they were wrong. Once you have voted for Obama it is difficult to vote against him since that would mean you made a mistake. People will not vote for her just because they did last time, since nobody outside of NY ever voted for her in the first place.
So, Hillary is a desperately flawed candidate with none of the traditional Democratic advantages (affable personality, running against the previous administration, running against a split ticket), and none of the advantages of incumbency.
Now we get to the actual election… In order to win a Republican would need to flip Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, and any one other state. There are other paths, but this is a decent starting point. Hillary can assume to lose 2 points of Obama’s support simply through lower minority turnout. Florida and Ohio have flipped in that case. Next you need to look at the electorate in Iowa and Colorado – places that have large numbers of Evangelical voters. If you want to turn out an evangleical base it would be best to nominate Carson or Cruz. You would expect to raise support by 2 points with either of those candidates. Election won, enough states have flipped (including VA and PA – optimistically) to swing the election.
In 2008 there were a ton of people who said that they wouldn’t vote for McCain, and they didn’t. In 2012 there were a ton of people who said that they wouldn’t vote for Romney, and they didn’t. In 2016 there are a ton of people who say they won’t vote for Trump, and they won’t. I posit that Trump would have no more voter turnout than Romney, and that Cruz would have no less than Bush. Trump alienates a big part of the base, and most importantly he alienates the marginal voter, those who have a proven ability of sitting it out but if they showed up would vote for a Republican. Cruz alienates the independent and the liberals who are not a part of the base anyway, and who would not be reliable Republicans even if they show up. He will reach out to religious voters who have been drastically supressed since 2004. Bush won on the strength of the religious coalition without even appealing to economic conservatives or libertarians. Cruz is taking for granted the establishment and appealing to those who have sat out. Will some people be scared and vote against Cruz? No, by definition you cannot vote against a candidate, you have to vote for a candidate. So people might be scared and vote for Clinton, but they cannot vote against Cruz. They might go out and vote for a Bill Clinton, but it would be much more difficult to convince them to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton in protest. This is especially true since she cannot run as a protest candidate. “This Hispanic guy is scary, so vote for the robotic harpy instead.”
This really boils down to the following question: Which states will Trump win that Cruz will not? I suspect Trump would get more votes in NY and NJ, but lose those states anyway. He would get fewer votes in Iowa and FL, and lose those as well while they would be within Cruz’ reach. If you really want the person most likely to win, the one who completely neutralizes every Democratic advantage (is the most likable candidate in my lifetime, and it would be hard to rally minorities against him), nominate Carson. He would absolutely crush Clinton by attracting a significant African American vote in PA, OH, MI, and move NJ and IL into tossup. If you want a candidate who will be consistently conservative and has a chance of winning a close election nominate Cruz. If you want a candiate who will be fairly conservative and has a very good chance of winning nominate Rubio. If you want a candidate who will be liberal and will lose in a landslide nominate Trump.