Sunday, July 08, 2018


Just to review, because some Trump supporters in the comments sections at a few sites are losing this thought again.  Donald Trump did not find 63,000,000 new votes to win the election.  He unlocked some votes previous Republicans were unable to and the other candidates were unlikely to, including some Democrats. (I think Ted Cruz could have unlocked some but not all of them.  The populist difference is that Trump takes an "I am always right" attitude, which is untrue but attractive, while Cruz takes an "I am smarter than everyone else" attitude which is close to true but irritates people.)

I think it is true that had Trump not unlocked them the Republicans would not have won. However, they are only the group that put Trump over the top, not the foundation or "the base," whatever that is. The bulk of Trump's supporters were the same people who voted for Romney, McCain, Bush, Dole, etc. They voted for him because they "always vote Republican," or because "he's not Hillary Clinton." They would also have voted for Kasich, or Rubio, or whoever. Trump did in fact lose some of those votes.  He just won more back. You can still find lots of people who will say "Donald Trump continues to do a great job of not being Hillary Clinton, and that's all I ever asked of him."

The arithmetic of this is obvious, but the idea that "we true believers elected Trump" keeps creeping back in. Part of this is a very natural tendency that all groups have to see themselves as the key players. One sees it on sports teams, in businesses, or in any project.  There is some truth to it.  Everyone's part did matter, and the event may not have come to pass without them. To take an extreme, the Golden State Warriors cannot win if someone doesn't keep the floors safe, but that doesn't make the floor crew more important than Kevin Durant.

Secondly, many conservatives who have been prominent for years have turned out to be squishes, which gives the Trump supporters the idea that there are just millions of those GOPe guys out there who must be beaten back. That is not known.  Most Democrats just vote Democrat every time, because that's what they do, and would have to hate Hillary an awful lot not to vote for her. The Republicans are similar. 80% of that vote is going to show up unless Satan himself is nominated. (And some even then.) Trump found some independents and disaffected Democrats.  He re-energised some Republicans who had given up after the last few elections.  He inspired some young people who were previously unaffiliated.  These outnumbered the people who found him too offensive, or not worth driving to the polls for.

There is also the idea that the electoral world has been permanently changed by Trump and his supporters, so the others better get on board. That might be, but it is too soon to tell. All sorts of realignments might be in the future. Or not.


sykes.1 said...

First, all of this is irrelevant. Trump won the Electoral College because the Democrats ran the worst possible candidate, the corrupt monster Hillary Clinton. Second, he lost the popular vote. A majority of Americans were perfectly happy to elect the monster. That says a lot about the American people, namely that a majority are themselves corrupt. Were it not for the fact that the small States would not agree to a Constitution that would allow one or a few large States to dominate the Presidency, Hillary would be President.

Everything else, all other considerations are nonsense and irrelevant.

The question is, Will the Democrats once again nominate a monster, perhaps Hillary?

Sam L. said...

If all those 63 million were new, nobody would have been voting Republican before.

charlie said...

I was tempted to write that votes are fungible the way dollars are fungible.

But it's not so.

Votes are not correct in presidential elections because of the Electoral Congress. I think the factually correct statement would be that votes for candidate X within a single state are fungible.

Am I on the right track here? Every one of the 2,841,005 votes for Donald Trump in Ohio was equally important to his victory in Ohio.


Charles W. Abbott

P.S.: 63,000,000??? Too many people will invent figures casually, and too many other people will accept them without comment

charlie said...

Sorry, I need a copy editor.

"Votes are not *fungible* in presidential elections because of the Electoral Congress," the third sentence should read.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ charlie - not sure what your objection to 63M is. I got the number here:, and confirmed it here:,_2016

When people are discussing overall presidential campaigns, it is common to refer to national results, because there are similar effects in all states, such as demographic breakdown, and very similar regional effects as well. While it is theoretically possible for a candidate to get no votes in a dozen states and still win because of the Electoral College, as a practical matter nothing close to that will happen.

Categories of people vote similarly though not identically across state lines. Blacks, single women, over 65's, or many others. Tracking how those groups are perceiving the candidate, and what that means is not only a valid approach by strategists, it is necessary.

Christopher B said...

I think it's worth noting in this mix that while Hillary got about the same percentage of Democrat votes as Trump did Republicans (89 v 90), she got a smaller percentage than Obama in 2012 (93).

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Christopher B - to oversimplify, more Democrats hated Hillary enough to stay home than Republicans hated Trump to stay home or vote third party. The switchover votes of GOPe voting Hillary or Obama Democrats were there - the people who seldom vote but came out for Trump may have been there - and were key in the end, but weren't the foundational story.