The Democrats will defeat Trump, right? According to an important statistic, and a conversation not being had, I say no – Nicholas Harrington
Pop quiz, hot shot. What’s the biggest difference between the US political system and our own?
If you answered that their politicians are crazy, or that they have a two-year maniacal circus leading up to an election, a mass-media royal-rumble-infotainment-gorgefest of no-holds-barred chicanery instead of a somber and civil affair…I’m afraid you are incorrect.
It’s the fact that if you don’t feel like voting come November 8, 2016, you don’t have to.
Non-compulsory voting is the reason money gushes (now unrestrained, thanks to the 2010 Citizens United ruling) into the political process. It’s the reason the US’ politics are so “extreme.” It’s why polarisation, pandering, lobbying and terms like “ground-game” and “gerrymandering” are ubiquitous parts of any US election cycle.
I give this by way of background because its feeds directly into what I really want to discuss: the concept of turn-out.
Non-compulsory voting makes turn-out one of the most important strategic considerations in the US political system. Every campaign has departments and experts dedicated to maximising this number.
The simple fact is this: despite everything, election turnout is set to be the decisive factor in the 2016 US presidential election.
Whoever gets more of their party’s supporters out to vote in the fall is going to win the election. About now, you’re probably thinking, “No shit, Sherlock. Whoever gets the most people out is obviously going to win. Go back to watching The West Wing, you politico-nerd, and stop wasting my time!”
But before you skip to the next article, I’m want to explain something that is not being discussed, but is bubbling beneath the surface, ready to erupt. Smaug is getting angry and she’s gonna come bellowing out of Lonely Mountain and spew some serious magma all over the progressive Democrats living below.
Latest polls have Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump in a head-to-head by about three percent. Bernie Sanders beats Trump in a head-to-head by around eight percent. Sounds perfect! No matter who wins the Democratic nomination, America is safe from Donald Trump, right!?
These polls represent a sample of people phoned at home, and asked to choose between two candidates. That’s all it means.
Its like if I said, “Do you prefer a Golden Gaytime or a Magnum?”. So, 65 percent of respondents say they prefer Gaytimes…does that mean Gaytime sales are going up in the next month? Of course not. It just means 65 percent of the people polled on their phones from their homes would prefer a Golden Gaytime to a Magnum if they were to buy either.
Let me share some scary numbers with you – numbers that mean a lot more than the head-to-head match-up polls you’re constantly being fed.
Iowa Caucus turnout: Democrats / Republicans — 172,000 / 180,000
New Hampshire turnout: Democrats / Republicans — 251,000 / 285,000
Nevada Caucus turnout: Democrats / Republicans — 80,000 / 73,541
South Carolina turnout: Democrats / Republicans — 367,000 / 737,917
By my calculations, so far 870,000 Democrats have come out to vote, while 991,743 Republicans have gotten off their (we are told “oh-so-fat”) posteriors to turn up at the polls. Therefore, the Republicans have a 14 percent turnout margin over the Democrats.
To put that in historical perspective: that turnout differential is the same advantage that Democrats saw when Barack Obama ran in 2008. You heard right. The Republicans are coming out in force. Without an Obama-like, hope-infused rainmaker, the Democrats are in serious, serious trouble.
So…let us apply the turnout realties to the head-to-head match up figures we quoted earlier.
You’ve got 1,000 people polled (for ease of computation). Of those 1,000 people, 45.3 percent said they’d vote for Hillary; that’s 453 people. Trump gets the thumbs up from 42.5 percent; that’s 425 folks. Now lets factor in the 14 percent turnout margin the Republicans are experiencing. Say then, that 484 Republicans show up at the polls. That’s 484 of 937 voters, or 51 percent. The Democrats in this hypothetical actually only have 48 percent of the total.
You might hate my maths – and I’m the first to agree – but I am theorist, not a statistician. So don’t take my word for it; listen to political science professor Helmut Norpoth who, using a much more sophisticated model, based on primary turnout dynamics, says that Trump has a 97 percent chance of winning the election. This purported three percent margin that Hillary Clinton has over Trump is, in fact, illusory.
When you take turnout into consideration, the reverse is true.
What is also clear is that while Donald Trump could beat Hillary Clinton, he’ll have a much harder time against Bernie Sanders. Some could even see Sanders inching out a win, but, as we all know, the fix is in; Bernie will never be the Democratic nominee in the face of a corrupt superdelegate racket.
Now as a final point. Some might argue, “But all those Republicans are spread over five candidates. They aren’t all going to come out and vote for Trump. In fact, some of them hate him!”
Granted, there is some truth to that.
However, the same argument applies to the Democrats – perhaps more so, as almost half their voters are opposing the other candidate. How would the disillusioned Sanders supporters feel if their guy won the popular nomination vote, only to have it snatched away by Democratic Party? His supporters aren’t then going to cheerily support the Brutus holding the bloody knife. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that many Sanders supporters feel just as antithetical towards Hillary as Rubio supporters might toward Trump.
At the end of the day, both parties confront the same challenge. Trump’s so-called divisiveness within the GOP isn’t going to alter the political reality. Many, many more Republicans are coming out to vote this cycle than Democrats – and that is a problem of historic proportions.