Approaching the 100-day mark, Donald Trump’s administration has struggled to accomplish anything meaningful, other than outraging huge swaths of the electorate, spawning an instant-classic “SNL” sketch and horrifying most of the Western world. So the results of a new Washington Post/ABC News poll released last week came as a shock: Almost every Trump voter doesn’t regret their vote, and if the election were held today, Trump would beat Hillary Clinton by three points — and actually win the popular vote (although Trump believes he won it the first time).
But the results are not as they seem. This doesn’t bode well for Trump in 2020, because those Trump voters simply don’t matter anymore, contends Matthew Yglesias in a statistics-heavy new analysis for Vox. If every Trump supporter votes for Trump in 2020, he’d still lose, “perhaps devastatingly so,” writes Yglesias.
The math: Trump only won 46 percent of the popular vote — only half a point more than Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008. What did those Republican candidates have in common? Oh yeah — they lost. In McCain’s case, he lost in a landslide. Forty-six percent is not traditionally enough to win.
Trump’s victory in 2016 was an outlier, more about quirks in the Electoral College than a sweeping mandate. For example: While 96 percent of Trump’s voters were die-hard, estimates are that 4 percent were swing voters. If only those voters had swung the other way or stayed home, Trump would have lost the all-important Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania votes, and Hillary Clinton would be president today.
Yglesias points out that Trump has made no effort to play to anyone but his base, or bring others into his tent. Simply put, that base isn’t enough to win in 2020.
“The primary political question of 2018 and 2020 isn’t whether Trump’s voters will abandon him and the GOP, but whether Democrats will manage to field candidates and messages that inspire Trump’s critics to unite and vote for the same person. It’s not an impossible task, but it’s not a trivial one either,” writes Yglesias.
In America, you can still dare to dream.