As President Donald Trump inflicts a series of damaging political wounds on himself, literally every day, many of his opponents and detractors have become smug, self-serving and triumphalist, beating their chests as they think that the 2020 presidential election is all but over, and come next January we'll be swearing a President Joe Biden. We've been there before in 2016 when despite all odds Trump won against a Democratic candidate that I still believe was the best prepared and most qualified in a generation.
But alas, resumes do not win votes. And no matter what you may think about Donald Trump and the Republican Party, get this: there is now no distance or difference between the two. The interests of both the incumbent president and the party he now owns and controls are intertwined and indistinguishable from each other. So, it's now a waste of time to bemoan the actions of, for example, Senate Republicans as gutless, spineless and sycophantic. They are afraid of the enigmatic president's legendary rage and his penchant for exacting spiteful retribution.
But here is another important thing to note before Democrats break out the champagne and dance in the streets. It's the political numbers. And they cut a path to 270 electoral college votes for Trump and a second term if Democrats are not careful and correct course. First, the party and the Biden/Harris campaign are only now paying attention to the large Hispanic/Latino vote. This group of approximately 30 million do not always vote democratic and just how the party dropped the ball was evident at the Democratic Party convention when this important demographic was MIA - missing in action.
This course-correction is critical in the last 30 days to November 3rd. Then there is the Black and white vote and how their numbers can skew this election - one way or the other. Let me start from the fact that in 2016 Hillary Clinton got 48% of the national vote to Trump's 46% and she still lost the election. A lack of Black and white support for her in the Democratic Party and her failure to turn out voters in the Obama election numbers (both 2008 and 2012) cost her the presidency. Biden needs to do better than she did among this electorate. Democrats must remember that demographics are not manifest destiny in American elections. Literally, millions of Americans don't align with the party their race and ethnicity or education would suggest.
For example, in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, more than a third of Donald Trump's support nationally came from non-Hispanic white Americans with college degrees (26 percent) and Asian, Black and Hispanic voters (12 percent), according to a Pew Research report. Still, Joe Biden is digging into Republican-leaning states like Arizona and energizing Black and Hispanic voters that explains his 8 or 9% lead over Trump nationally.
But, like 2016, Trump could, despite being behind in the polls and leading in key battleground and swing states, win the Electoral College and the presidency. And that's despite the very poor marks Americans give him for his inefficient, fumbling and incompetent handling of COVID-19, and his toilet-bowl ratings for his job performance. I'm resting this on the fact that right now in 2020, Trump's Black, Hispanic and college-educated white voters who supported him in 2016 are largely still with him, particularly in key swing states. The fact is that in the past 10 or so years, voters haven't radically changed their voting patterns or habits even in the era of Donald Trump, and would need a great and compelling set of reasons to ditch the incumbent.
To be sure, Donald Trump has not grown or expanded his base and he's spent 3 years dancing to their tune. Indeed, if anything COVID-19 has amplified the rage, anger and other issues that he tapped into in 2016. Today, the Republican Party is over 80% white and their support for Trump has not declined or wavered, if anything it has only intensified. BOTH college educated and non-college educated whites, especially in the southern states, are overwhelmingly died-in-the-wool conservative Republicans, as are white evangelicals that voted for Trump in the 83 percentile in 2016. They also have not abandoned him - yet.
And then there is the fact that all of these differences and nuances will vary greatly and widely by states. The good news for Joe Biden and the Democrats is that right now he is doing much better than Hillary Clinton (17%) did in 2016 among whites with college degrees. He's leading among them by 23 percent. Again, this is going to shift and vary by states. For example, in Democratic states like New Hampshire Trump is getting a shellacking in this key demographic. But in this and other swing states Donald Trump's base - whites without college degrees - make up the vast majority of the voting population. So, even if Biden leads him among college-educated whites in these states (Maine, New Hampshire and Minnesota) he could still lose them in the election.
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