Highly Doubtful Trump Can Overcome the Twin Obstacles of Shrinking Voting Power of White Males and the Growing Voting Power of Latinos, Asian-Americans
As Donald Trump edges closer to the Republican nomination, a number of commentators are pointing to his strong support from white working class male voters. Some suggest his appeal will put in play rust belt states that typically vote for the Democratic nominee. The problem with this analysis is two-fold: 1) Trump’s hateful rhetoric and extreme immigration proposals are mobilizing more Latinos and Asian-Americans to become citizens and voters; and 2) Trump will have to win white male voters by a nearly impossible margin of 70%.
The New York Times just published a Julia Preston piece entitled, “More Latinos Seek Citizenship to Vote Against Trump.” Hortensia Villegas of Denver is quoted in the piece. A legal resident and mother of two, she says, “I want to vote so Donald Trump won’t win. He doesn’t like us.” Community groups throughout the country, led by the National Partnership for New Americans, and labor unions with large immigrant memberships, such as SEIU and UNITE HERE, are undertaking citizenship drives to make sure new citizens are approved in time to become voters in November.
Given the increase in the number and share of Latino voters expected to vote in the 2016 general electorate, the polling firm Latino Decisions estimates that the Republican nominee will need to win between 42-47% of Latinos to win the 2016 presidential popular vote. These numbers, coupled with predictions that the Latino vote will increase by at least 15% in this cycle, signal trouble for any Republican nominee. And Donald Trump is not just any Republican nominee.
Perhaps, some say. But won’t Trump bring out disaffected white voters in such numbers that he’ll more than make up for whatever deficit he faces with Latino voters? Not so fast. David Bernstein points out in his recent Politico piece that Donald Trump will need to capture a “whopping” 70 percent of white male voters to win the White House – a much larger percentage than any Republican has ever won, including in the landslide victories by Ronald Reagan (63%) in 1984 and George H.W. Bush (60%) in 1988.
Here are excerpts from the Bernstein piece:
The overwhelming fact about American general elections right now is that white male voters just aren’t as powerful as they used to be….Between Reagan and Romney, the white male share of the total vote had dropped from 45 percent to 35 percent. The two biggest factors: From Reagan to Romney, Hispanics’ share of the national vote soared from 2 percent to 10 percent; and women, post-feminism, jumped from casting 49 percent of all ballots to 53 percent. Winning the same percentage of white men got the party less and less. And those changes have continued. It will get the GOP even less this year. That’s why Trump needs to jack the number up so high.
[Meanwhile] nearly three-quarters of Hispanics hold a very unfavorable opinion of Trump, according to a Washington Post/Univision poll released just last week. And he has only been adding to the problem: He’s publicly criticized the first Latin-American Pope and two former presidents of Mexico. And he accepted endorsements from Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, two of the U.S. American political figures most hated by the Latino community.
Hispanics aren’t the only ethnic minorities who feel threatened or offended by Trump. [Matt] Barreto [of Latino Decisions] estimates that Asian-Americans, who cast 26 percent of their votes to Romney in 2012, could also drop to 15 percent or lower for Trump. And a Trump candidacy would almost surely suppress an expected GOP recovery among black voters in 2016—only around 5 percent went to the GOP in 2008 when the GOP faced the first African-American major party presidential nominee, down from a more typical 12 percent or so.
….NALEO estimates 13.1 million Hispanics will vote in 2016, a 15 percent increase from 2012. That’s based on a repeat of the 2012 turnout rate of 48 percent. But at least from this early vantage point, it seems reasonable to assume that anti-Trump sentiment will be more motivating than the 2008 contest. If Hispanics vote in 2016 at the rate they did in 2008, they would add another half-million voters. And Trump could inspire significantly more. Even assuming Trump can draw 15 percent of Latinos—the high end of Barreto’s estimate—The Donald would need to win at least 66 percent of the white vote, male and female, to reach 50 percent of the popular vote.
….Colorado, Florida, and Nevada just don’t have enough white men for Trump to win by mobilizing them. White men made up just 35 percent of Colorado’s vote in 2012, and 29 percent of Nevada’s. In Florida—where Obama’s slim margin of reelection makes it almost a must-win for the GOP—white men made up just 30 percent of the 2012 vote, and they already voted for Romney at a wildly high 65 percent. Not only is Florida’s Hispanic population growing rapidly, but it is also becoming more solidly Democratic, as its older, anti-Castro Cuban-American population has waned in proportion to younger, Puerto Rican voters.
Without those three states, Trump has to sweep Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin plus win either Iowa or New Hampshire. It’s hard to picture. As you look at numbers in those states, you quickly start hitting limits on how many white men are available to vote for Trump. Most young voters are uninterested in him; so are a large chunk of the highly educated. In a recent Quinnipiac poll, Clinton leads Trump 51 percent to 37 percent among those with college degrees, and 61 percent to 23 percent among those younger than 35.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “If Trump becomes the GOP nominee, he will test the long-held theory among conservatives who oppose immigration reform that the key to victory is to mobilize disaffected white voters, especially white male voters. However, given the unprecedented margin of white voters needed, and given the growth of Latino and Asian-American voters, this theory comes across more as wishful thinking than realistic strategy. But Democrats should not sit back complacently. Latinos and Asian-Americans, like all communities, want to be asked for their vote. If Democrats make the proper investments, they should be able to take advantage of the demographic advantages they enjoy.”