Friday, April 01, 2016

Just How Low Can Trump Go This Election Cycle

In terms of his unpopularity I mean.

As the primary season is about halfway finished, the media is starting to pick up on the fact that Donald Trump isn't all that popular outside of the Far Right voting base that makes up the Republican Party.

And we're still talking about Trump as the likely nominee because he's still got a big lead on the delegate count, and because the Number Two in the race - Ted Cruz - is polling about as unpopular as Trump with the general electorate.

We're looking at a potential Presidential candidate in Donald Trump whose possible Popular vote for November is going to be around 33 percent, the way things are tracking.

Which got me to thinking: What was the worst Popular vote performance by a Presidential candidate in the whole of our nation's history?

We need to make the distinction for a 2-person race. A lot of multi-candidate (three or more) races split the Popular vote in weird ways, so the drubbing John Davis gets in 1924 has a lot to do with the Third Party guy La Follette more than Calvin Coolidge (although Coolidge did get a sizable majority 54 percent). The fights between four candidates in 1824 and 1860 and 1912 make it impossible to say the Second Place guy got drubbed. So for it to be utter humiliation, it has to be a mano-a-mano showdown.

There's been a few bad Electoral College vote performances - Mondale in 1984, McGovern in 1972, Goldwater in 1964, Alf Landon in 1936 (before Mondale, one of the most mocked under-performances of all time), with the earliest going back to Charles Pinckney in 1804.

Ah. Who?

Exactly. Pinckney in 1804 not only suffered one of the worst Electoral College results ever, he gave the singular worst Popular vote performance of all time. While there's been a few candidates who struggled in the low 30s for head-to-head matchups, Pinckney set the record for fewest Likes at 27.2 percent of the voting population.

So here we've got a measuring stick. Can Trump equal Pinckney's dismal performance?

Probably not in terms of the Electoral College (although if Nate Silver is right about the women's vote, the possibility is there for a total wipeout), as the Republican Party is still popular enough in regions to earn a few states like South Carolina, Alabama, Idaho, parts of the Midwest (everything else right now - I'm not joking - is up for grabs) just by being the Red candidate. It's doubtful he'll sink to the minimum two-state (plus DC) requirement of matching the humiliating nights that Pinckney, Landon, and Mondale endured (McGovern tends to get excused because of the Watergate scandals of Nixon's dirty tricks people messing with the primaries).

But the Popular vote for Trump can well hit the lowest levels that a candidate for a major party can sink to. Trump's unpopularity is suddenly becoming a major revelation - as the focus on the early stages of the primary season was on the state primary numbers - and the fact that he's already burned more than a few bridges to a lot of the voting blocs is starting to hurt the GOP.

Right now the polls have him bouncing between 41 to 38 percent losing to either Clinton or Sanders. Granted, there's room for Trump to bounce up especially if the Democrats stumble out of their convention mid-summer: but given the polarization between the two parties and the unlikelihood of party voters switching, it all comes down to how the Independent voters go.

And Independent voters right now don't like Trump at all.

My own personal view is that if Trump survives this very contested convention - he pretty much HAS to win the delegate count beforehand, and that's starting to look harder to do - he's going to come out of it bruised and angry and unable to change his tune to a more moderate stance. Depending on how his Veep selection plays out - if he does go with Palin begin headdesking - the poll numbers can really drop. If he's under 40 percent by August - hell, if he's under 33 percent by September - he's probably going to lose more voters who will just run away from the stench.

The way things are going, I've got Trump finishing around that 33 percent as he turns into an incoherent raging mess as October rolls around. Not enough to match Pinckney's despair, but it'll do... it'll do.


Infidel753 said...

I still have hopes for that 50-state sweep. After all, at this point the destruction of the Republican party is pretty much a mercy killing. Might as well make a clean job of it.

Comrade Misfit said...

"Stench" Trump.

Needs work, but yeah. I'm hoping that his candidacy is as dead as my cat.

Paul Wartenberg said...

I saw that about your kitteh, Misfit. :( :( :(

As for hoping for that 50-state sweep, SOMETHING has to happen to snap the Republicans out of their self-indulgent epistemic closure. They keep telling themselves "oh well our candidate was weak, oh well he wasn't sufficient conservative, oh well he wasn't Reagan."

They keep hiding from the facts that 1) their tax-cut deregulate-all-except-for-abortions-and-gay-bathrooms kill-government agenda no longer sells to a majority of Americans and 2) they no longer have Reagan - they no long have a respectable candidate period - around to save them.

If they hit rock bottom with one of the most embarrassing political losses in human history, that might do the trick. If not, they are truly dead as a national party (the horror is that as a state-regional party they still wield a shitload of power).

Pinckney's defeat in 1804 wasn't the death knell of the Federalist party he represented... but he signaled the party's inability to find an appropriate leader to rally to after Hamilton's death and John Adams' exile.

dinthebeast said...

There are not that many crazy right-wingers out there, but they are LOUD, so it seems like there are a lot of them. So a center-right party could do very well in a presidential election. All of the winning Democrats (except for LBJ) have been centrists. Hell, I wish we could elect a liberal, but we'd have to also elect a liberal congress for them to get anything done, and I see that as even less likely than a Sanders presidency. At least we've got the supreme court now. Without Scalia, no matter who gets in it will lean further left than it did...

-Doug in Oakland

Pinku-Sensei said...

Sorry to read about Misfit's cat, as well. The sad news makes me a little bit reluctant to offer the following meme as a graphic for Trump's rhetoric and it's popularity. I call it "Limbo Kitty."

Green Eagle said...

I would like to reply to dinthebeast's comment, which I have heard now from a number of sources, that if the country elected a liberal, he would need a liberal Congress to get anything done. Well, in case you haven't noticed, Obama is not exactly a flaming liberal, and how much luck did he have with a Republican Congress? The truth is that the Republicans are going to attack whatever Democrat is elected President with the same evil ferocity, and that is going to go on for the indefinite future, because they think that making people hate the government is as good a result as getting their short term way in legislation. So, the subversion will continue until the Republican party's hate filled base dies off, or until they take control again, and see if they can't bring the American experiment to an end in four years.

Paul Wartenberg said...

To Doug (din): liberals do not have control of the Supreme Court just yet, they're simply taking advantage of the 4-4 ties... and to Green Eagle's comment following Doug's: for a liberal congress, it would take a true shift of the House from Republican to Democrat (unlikely given the gerrymandering) and it would need well more than the 60 Democratic Senators that Obama had on hand from 2009-10 (it did not help Obama that several Democratic Senators were still conservative enough to prevent a more progressive stimulus recovery).

Still, it behooves Democrats to get the damn vote out, and it falls to the moderates and independent voters to for once start leaning Left in order to kick the obstructionist Far Right out of the damn government.