Tuesday, April 12, 2016

There's Only So Much You Can Do With a Map: It's All About Voter Turnout

So you know I like messing with Presidential Electoral map generators.

270towin.com is kind of fun, but it's limited in that you make your own guesses as to which states are going to go for your candidate over the other one. It may be satisfying to have Hillary stomp the hell out of Trump in 47 out of 50 states (plus DC), but there's little actual evidence - unless you're Nate Silver and you have all the true numbers - to back you up.

I like how RealClearPolitics went and created their own generator based on the 2012 voter turnout. As you mess with the number variables on two columns - one for voter turnout favoring Republicans, the second for overall voter turnout - you get a better sense of how certain states are demographically aligned Red or Blue by four established blocs (White, Black, Hispanic, Asian), and a better idea of how voter turnout and support will actually create possible results.

Granted, it's still not accurate to predict for 2016 - demographic have changed over the last four years, and there are new variables each election cycle - but it's better than just your own guessing.

So it all comes down to how the numbers actually play out this election cycle.

One thing I've learned messing with the demographic calculator to that map is that while having Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians all solidly line up in favor of Democrats is a good thing, any discernible changes in BOTH their support for Republicans and overall turnout doesn't swing any states. It's a combination of two factors: most minority voters are either residing in heavily Blue states or else are so alienated against the Republicans that there's little chance they can flip states one way or another.

Bumping up Black voters alone to favor Republicans doesn't really flip any states until getting to 12 percent for the GOP, and that's with Florida. And there's little sign the Republicans are going to do THAT well with Blacks considering the GOP's voter suppression efforts and other policy beliefs openly affect Blacks.

Florida flips to Republican if the Hispanic vote favoring Republicans go up to 32 percent nationwide support. Considering the anti-immigration stance of the GOP - Trump's horrifying stances are bad enough, but Cruz will be just as oppressive as a candidate - there's no way Hispanic support goes that high (most polling is showing Hispanic support dropping).

Asian voting population numbers are the smallest of the four blocs, as such any noticeable shift in Republican approval AND disapproval is meager at best. All that happens if they favor the GOP is that Blue states turn lighter and Red states stay almost the same color (I think Texas darkened Red a bit) up until the support gets to 50 percent, at which point Florida flips Red (damn, Florida, you're on the razor's edge here).

Things may flip quicker if all three minority groups do start favoring Republicans more, along with growing overall turnout, but neither factor is realistic to contemplate. We're facing an election cycle in which Republicans have pretty much alienated every voting bloc - Blacks, Hispanics, Chinese, Muslims, Women, Youth/College - outside of the Uneducated White Male category.

What I'm finding going by RCP's Map Generator is that the real difference-maker is the White voting bloc. Where shifting the minority blocs gives you plus or minus half-percentages, shifting the White voter approval for the Republicans can get you a full percent shift, and states change their colors real quick.

If all other things remain as they were in 2012, if Republicans bump up White voter support from 60 percent to 64 percent, they flip the Electoral College to their favor (this is 4 percent to flipping Black voters up 6 percent to 12). That may sound simple enough... except the current polling is showing White voter support for Republicans dropping, likely due to the fact that White WOMEN voters are turning against the GOP.

And that's IF you keep voter turnout as they were in 2012. The odds of that - due to depressed voter turnout thanks to unpopular candidates AND that aggressive GOP voter suppression effort - for 2016 are unlikely: Overall voter turnout is expected to drop this year. The question is by how much.

Ironically enough, the voter suppression effort against minority voters can become meaningless. I can drop the voter turnouts for all Non-White blocs down to 40 percent and STILL the Republicans will lose the Electoral count. That is if White voting numbers stay static: if turnout goes up or GOP support goes up, then the Electoral shift happens differently. But THAT requires White turnout going up around 70 percent while dropping Black voters to 42 percent and Hispanics/Asians both to 40 percent. The impossible factor there is getting the White vote count up: there is no way they can get to 70 percent turnout like that, and still retain 60 percent Republican support...

The Republicans are going to have to deny the Black voters down like crazy to flip the Electoral College in any way. Considering Black voters turned out at 66 percent (best among the four groups), forcing that huge a drop into the low 40s is unlikely: Republicans can't suppress the Black voters in Blue states for one thing, and they can't deny that many insistent voters when the time comes in November. If Black voter turnout drops under 50 percent, it's a clear sign of voter suppression, and no-one outside of the hater groups will ever accept that result.

It'd have to be a combination of both voter suppression efforts AND getting minority to show up in favor of Republicans. But that's a paradox: if Republicans - and they're the ones doing this, so none of that Both Sides crap - suppress the vote, there's no way they are appealing to minority voters to turn against their own interests.

What will hurt is the White voter turnout for Republicans: having built an entire Presidential electoral campaign around courting just that voting bloc is now due to blow up in the GOP's collective face.

There's been the gradual demographic loss of White voters as a percentage of the national population for one thing: there's the fact that Whites are not a uniform voting bloc the way Blacks are (and how Hispanic voters can become a solid bloc in the face of a massive anti-Hispanic outburst by the Far Right). There's a surprising number of White voters who are Democratic at heart and Liberal by belief: there is a ceiling where the Republicans cannot appeal strongly enough to get the White votes they need.

And making their appeals more Far Right than ever - trying to keep their base happy and eager to vote - ensures more moderate/centrist voters among Whites turn away as well. It's a Lose-Lose situation for the GOP: Republicans can't gain enough minority voters to overcome the Electoral numbers, and they can't afford to lose White voters the way they are this election cycle.

And when that is all said and done, the RCP generator still proves one point:

It all comes down to voter turnout, as always.

The only REAL way Republicans can win the Presidency - any election for that matter - is if Democrats and Left-leaning voters refuse to show up. Even the act of showing up fights the voter suppression effort because there's only so many voters the Far Right can try to stop.

Get the damn vote out, America.


dinthebeast said...

All of this makes me feel somewhat important as a white liberal...

-Doug in Oakland

Paul Wartenberg said...

Doug, send the word to all the white liberals you know: GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT.