Tuesday, January 19, 2016


I agree with Politico's Ben Schreckinger that Donald Trump could win the general election, but not this way:
If Donald Trump becomes the next president of the United States, there will be plenty of surprises along the way. One of the biggest will be the help he gets from black voters....

“If he were the Republican nominee he would get the highest percentage of black votes since Ronald Reagan in 1980,” said Republican messaging guru Frank Luntz, referring to the year Reagan won 14 percent of that bloc of voters. “They listen to him. They find him fascinating, and in all the groups I have done, I have found Obama voters, they could’ve voted for Obama twice, but if they’re African-American they would consider Trump.”

Another longtime Republican pollster and veteran of multiple presidential campaigns has tested Trump’s appeal to blacks and Hispanics and come to the same conclusion. “He behaves in a way that most minorities would not expect a billionaire to behave,” explained the pollster, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid damaging relationships within the party. “He’s not a white-bread socialite kind of guy.”
In a word: no. Maybe things have changed dramatically in the last couple of months, but I'd bet real money that what The Atlantic's David Graham reported in late November still holds:
A Public Policy Polling survey in mid-November found that 75 percent of African Americans had an unfavorable opinion on Trump, versus just 9 who held favorable views. A Fox News poll in November found that in a head-to-head matchup against Hillary Clinton, only 13 percent of non-white respondents would pick Trump -- the lowest in the Republican field.... Only 10 percent of black respondents thought Trump was trustworthy. Going further back, an August Quinnipiac poll found substantial skepticism toward Trump among black voters.
And by "substantial skepticism," Graham means this:
* When asked "Would you say that Donald Trump cares about the needs and problems of people like you or not?" 92% of black people said no....

* 73% of black people said Trump is not strong or trustworthy.

* 79% of black people said they have an unfavorable view of Trump.

When asked "If the election for President were being held today, and the candidates were Hillary Clinton the Democrat and Donald Trump the Republican, for whom would you vote?" 3% percent said they'd vote for Trump.
Yes, one SurveyUSA poll in September showed Trump getting 25% of the black vote against Clinton, but that poll was full of bizarre results -- for instance, 17% of "very liberal" respondents said they'd pick Trump over Bernie Sanders, while Sanders got 17% of "very conservative voters." (I'll note that a SurveyUSA poll of Georgia showed that Trump did better among black Republicans than among white Republicans. Maybe that's the kind of result Luntz and the other another unnamed pollster are seeing.)

What Schreckinger writes here is slightly more plausible, but it's still a bit off:
The rest of Trump’s path to general-election victory, as laid out to POLITICO by pollsters, his campaign and his former advisers, looks like this: After winning the nomination on the first ballot, Trump unifies the party he has fractured behind him and reinvents himself as a pragmatic businessman and family man at the Republican National Convention. News of small-scale terror plots on American soil, foiled or successful, keep voters in a state of anxiety. Trump minimizes his losses with Hispanics by running Spanish-language ads highlighting his support for a strong military and take-charge entrepreneurial attitude, especially in the Miami and Orlando media markets. He draws the starkest possible outsider-insider contrast with Hillary Clinton and successfully tars her with her husband’s sexual history.

If he does all that, holds Mitt Romney’s states, and drives extraordinary levels of working-class white voter turnout in the suburbs and exurbs of Ohio and Virginia, as well as in the Florida panhandle and Jacksonville, he can flip those three Obama states and rack up 266 electoral votes. Winning any one of Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Nevada or New Mexico would put him over the top and make Donald John Trump the 45th president of the United States.
I think Trump can win Obama states, especially in the Midwest. I worry that Democratic voter enthusiasm will be low -- maybe not midterm low, but lower than in 2012 and 2008. I also worry about vote suppression tactics.

On the other hand, I find it hard to imagine that Trump will suddenly let himself be house-trained, "reinvent[ing] himself as a pragmatic businessman and family man." If he does, he'll lose his appeal to his biggest fans. It's theoretically possible that he could thread the needle -- persuading swing voters that he's a warm, fuzzy guy while continuing to assure base voters that he's a racist Rottweiler -- but I think he'll have to choose one or the other, and either way he's going to lose voters.

But maybe he really believes he can go the nice-guy route. Schreckinger tells us that an ex-Trump aide really believes he could be sold as Ward Cleaver:
... his former political aide Sam Nunberg ... said the businessman can still attract many female voters.

Though Nunberg left Trump’s campaign in August, in a recent poll conducted for another client, Nunberg asked women in Connecticut who opposed marijuana legalization who they respected more: a politician who is also charitable and a world-renowned businessman, father and grandfather or an “Elderly woman who not only openly allows her husband to have affairs but tries to silence the women.” The figure with the favorable abstract framing of Trump beat the figure with the negative abstract framing of Clinton by more than 20 points, according to Nunberg.
Yeah, right -- in a Trump-Clinton race, people are going to vote based on these abstractions, rather than on their own impressions of two of the most famous people in the world. Good luck with that approach, Donald.

(And I love that voter subset -- "women in Connecticut who opposed marijuana legalization." That's about 35% of Connecticut's femal voters, and therefore less than 20% of the voters overall, in this one state.)

Nancy LeTourneau thinks the appearance of this article is a sign that the media loves Trump. I think it's a sign that political reporters and pundits will swallow any plausible-sounding spin from campaign spokespeople and political operatives. Nothing Schreckinger is told fails his smell test -- but all campaign-trail reporters seem to be like that, don't they?


Unknown said...

Democrats not excited about Hillary? Heaven forfend!

Aunt Snow said...

a SurveyUSA poll of Georgia showed that Trump did better among black Republicans than among white Republicans.

Both of them?

Aunt Snow said...

“Elderly woman who not only openly allows her husband to have affairs but tries to silence the women.”

Let's unpack this, shall we? "Elderly woman" - Hillary is 68. Hardly "elderly." She's a year younger than Trump.

"Openly allows her husband to have affairs" - is there any public knowledge about Bill Clinton's current love life? Anything at all? Or are they talking about back in the '80s and '90s when he was horndogging it behind his wife's back?

So forgiving affairs your husband had 20+ years ago is now "openly allows"?

"tries to silence the women" - well, clearly they weren't silenced, because they have no problem gaining the ear of right wing media.

So Trump cartoon character straw man beats Hillary cartoon character straw man. They must be using Karl Rove's math.

Unknown said...

more like eight-and-a-half-fend.

Simple math tells us that if actual rationals don't vote, then actual pueriles win, and that's main lesson of midterm elections.

Many decades of intensive observation, analysis and testing tells us that the converse never happens because pueriles are relatively crazy relatively white relatively fearful relatively testoserone-driven relatively fukked-up relative crackers who relatively always vote.

There's no point in WORRYING about it: the only thing to do is DO. Go work to elect a rational candidate or do stuff to support getting rational folks to the polls. If you as a rational person don't do either or both of these things, then you've no right at all to voice complaint about the potential for pueriles to win or them actually winning.

Humans lie, humans make mistakes, humans are not rational about all that much, humans overrate themselves and underrate others (not just comparing humans, or even 'just' comparing animals, but indeed comparing forces), and most of history including quite a bit of more resent mostly-post-monarchichal history shows that even well-informed, well-intention'd relatively rational humans can find themselves under dictators. What human anti-oligarchical so-called 'democratic' distributed decision-making systems for political leadership do is simply lesson the odds for continuing with certain kinds of decisions and increase the odds of more diverse sets of choices emerging. Doesn't make any of those choices objectively better because humans will and do habitually disagree and fight (argue to exterminate) over quite obviously subjective views of what's objectively good.

Worrying about what 'might' happen in a system as dynamical, flawed, fuzzy and probabilistic as a human group-decision making one is pointless. Act or don't act, that is all. Live long & prosper, or not.

Rick Massimo said...

"... a politician who is also charitable and a world-renowned businessman, father and grandfather or an “Elderly woman who not only openly allows her husband to have affairs but tries to silence the women."

Gosh, that rhetorical deck's not stacked at all.

"I think it's a sign that political reporters and pundits will swallow any plausible-sounding spin from campaign spokespeople and political operatives."

Change it to "Republican campaign spokespeople" and take out "plausible-sounding" and you got it.

mlbxxxxxx said...

If Trump's the nominee (something I still think is unlikely,) I think he will attempt the mother of all etch-a-sketch moments. It'll be huge. Can he do it and bring along his coalition of mouth-breathers? Maybe, but the thing about Trump in the race is that he will, I think, increase interest and increase turnout. Just on the face of it, that should accrue to the benefit of the D nominee (probably not gonna be Bernie.) Added to that is that he is hated by a larger and larger share of various minority groups everyday and he's wrecking the Republican brand among minorities (as well as his own among his rich customers, heh,) and I think he's still Loki's gift to all mankind and the Democrats in particular this next fall.

Go Trump. Beat Cruz. Please.

flipyrwhig said...

I also hear that in a poll of women in Connecticut who opposed marijuana legalization the respondents preferred "handsome billionaire with inimitable style" over "lying harpy unconcerned with dead heroes." You know, "abstract framing"!