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How Donald Trump Could Accelerate GOP’s Structural and Demographic Challenges Up and Down the 2016 Ballot

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Leading voices assess implications of Donald Trump as Republican nominee

Leading journalists and columnists are busy assessing the implications of Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee. Looking ahead, there is an emerging consensus that Republicans face an unfavorable electoral map that is made more acutely difficult with Trump as the nominee; that an energized Latino electorate could play a pivotal role in exacerbating the GOP’s existing structural and demographic challenges; and that having Trump at the top of the ticket could have a major and negative down-ballot effect for his fellow Republican candidates. Among the key observations and excerpts, include:

Mark Barabak and David Lauter in the Los Angeles Times, “Can Donald Trump Redraw the Political Map? He Must to Win the White House”: 

“To reach the White House, Trump will have to greatly expand the competitive map. Demographic shifts and the Manhattan mogul’s dismal standing with broad swaths of the electorate will make that difficult. Trump says he can generate a significantly higher turnout of white blue-collar voters, boosting him in Democratic-leaning industrial states, but ‘two can play that game,’ said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who worked for Rubio’s campaign. ‘Given his incredibly derisive comments about Mexicans and other immigrants, it’s reasonable to think that there would be an enormous turnout of Hispanics to stop Donald Trump,’ Ayres said. If so, Nevada and Colorado — which were expected to be major battlegrounds — could move beyond Trump’s reach. So would Florida, a perennial toss-up.

The nation’s most populous swing state has moved slowly but steadily toward Democrats since the 2000 election ended in a chaotic tie. The 50-50 electorate that year reflected ‘a Florida that’s gone now,’ said David Johnson, the former executive director of the state GOP. The percentage of whites in the state has declined steadily and huge immigration from economically strapped Puerto Rico has changed Florida’s Latino population, once primarily Cuban, to a more Democratic-leaning electorate. In 2012, Johnson noted, Republican Mitt Romney carried about 40% of the state’s Latino voters and still lost to President Obama by a percentage point. This time around, Johnson said, Trump would do well to win a quarter of Florida’s Latinos. ‘That’s not a valid mix to win,’ he said. ‘You have to have a better message than ‘The Hispanics love me,’ because the numbers show that they don’t,’ Johnson said.” 

Chris Cillizza in the Washington Post, “The GOP’s Electoral-Map Problem is Not About Trump. It’s About Demographics”:

“The current Republican disadvantage in the electoral map is less about any individual candidate than it is about demographics. As the country, and the voting public, has become less white and as Republicans have proved incapable of winning over nonwhite voters, a number of states have moved toward Democrats over the past decade … What has become increasingly clear is that any state with a large or growing nonwhite population has become more difficult for Republicans to win.

… Trump isn’t to blame for any of that. But his remarkably high disapproval numbers among Hispanics and his hard-line stance on illegal immigration — we are going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it! — could make what is already a huge demographic or electoral-map problem for Republicans even worse.

… Trump doesn’t help matters. But the Republican map problem goes deeper than him — or any one candidate. Blaming Trump for a loss in November would not only miss the point but may ensure that Republicans are doomed to repeat history in 2020.” 

Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley in Politico Magazine, “5 Things to Know About the Coming Trump vs. Clinton Showdown”:                                                                                                                                                           

“Yes, it’s true that Trump is an unprecedented political figure who has been consistently underestimated, only to remarkably end up in his current position as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. But, in reaching that elevated standing Trump has also alienated large swaths of key constituencies, including many Republicans. His unprecedented unpopularity will likely have serious, negative consequences for his electoral chances.

… And then there are Hispanic voters, who appear to abhor Trump. The research firm Latino Decisions recently found Trump’s net favorability among Latinos to be -78 percent, while Hillary Clinton’s is +29 percent … In light of how Trump is viewed by this demographic group, it’s not difficult to imagine Clinton winning 80 percent of Latinos after Obama won 71 percent in 2012. And, most projections expect Latinos to make up more of the electorate than they did in 2012, when they comprised 10 percent of all voters. That assumption is based partly on the growing Latino population, but also on the fact that hatred of Trump may motivate more Hispanics to register to vote and turn out to the polls.”

Ruth Marcus in her latest syndicated column, “Paul Ryan’s Comments on Trump Weren’t All That Courageous”:

“…[M]ight I also suggest that we are defining courage down here? Trump has said enough — more, more than enough — for the proper, principled Republican response to him to be ‘never Trump,’ rather than ‘not yet Trump.’ His comments about Muslims and his proposal to bar them — temporarily, as if that makes his position somehow more palatable — from entering the United States. His false claims that thousands of American Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks. His reference to Mexican ‘rapists’ entering the country illegally and his plan to round up and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.

… These are not positions and statements that can, or should, be airbrushed away, excused or forgotten. They are, or should be, disqualifying. Yet that is not Ryan’s assessment. ‘I hope to support our nominee,’ he told Tapper. ‘I hope to support his candidacy fully.’ In Ryan’s view, Trump simply needs to moderate his tone going forward, to bring the party together and to reassure Republicans like Ryan that he is a true conservative … The speaker finds himself in a difficult position, but his expressed hope to ultimately be able to support Trump is an exercise in self-delusion.”

Mike DeBonis in the Washington Post, “GOP Sen. Roy Blunt Faces Tough Post-Trump Reality: No Seat is Safe”:

“Trump’s unexpected ascension has forced Republican lawmakers across the country — most of whom, like [Missouri’s incumbent Republican Senator Roy] Blunt, have pledged to support their party’s eventual nominee — into verbal contortions as they try to distance themselves from Trump’s divisive antics without alienating the millions of GOP voters who nominated him. That dynamic — now certain to play out for another six months — has Democrats increasingly confident about their chances to win back the Senate majority in 2017. Because of Trump’s candidacy, national Democrats believe they can expand their Senate map beyond the battleground states like Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and New Hampshire to win the five seats they need. Key forecasters now think Republican incumbents in states like Arizona, North Carolina and Missouri, considered safe a year ago, are now vulnerable.”