I made the comment the other day that Donald Trump is actually only 5% of the vote short of flipping all the states he needs to win the Electoral College. This is true, but right now the only reason Trump in only 5% (now 8%) behind in states like Florida is that the Hillary Clinton campaign is redeploying resources toward a 50 state strategy.
I felt the same way about Mitt Romney in 2012 that Trumpers want me to feel about their candidate. I thought Romney was going to lose the general election, but when he became the nominee, I went all in. I won’t do that now. Donald Trump is a horrible Republican who burned down his primary opponents so personally and unnecessarily that most of them want nothing to do with Trump.
In my Romney days four years ago, the candidate had Obama down to a 27 Electoral Vote margin of victory and only needed a 3% shift in the voting population to win at this point in 2012. At least you could plausibly argue that Romney was within striking distance. The pinnacle of the campaign may have been October 4th, when the news media scrambled to downplay Obama’s embarrassing debate performance the night before. Ultimately, it may have only taught Obama’s base that they would need to fight for victory.
In a primary election, all the candidates are on a sort of even playing field. Go to a state, meet some people, do some ads or a debate on TV. Wait for the results. Repeat in another state. This pattern works until you get to Tuesdays with multiple primaries in bigger states. You either have to have bid data, big get out the vote or big media. Donald Trump had big media without the big check usually required.
During the presidential election, this all goes out the window. The only rallies that really matter are the three you hold before election day. Among the undecided, your first real introduction is during a debate a month from Election Day. You can’t win every state one by one. Everyone votes on the same day. The ones who don’t are why there’s big data.
Democrats used the results of 2000 and their anger that Bush bested them again in 2004 to create a system where Democrats had the maximum number of opportunities to vote. When Democrats talk about giving a vote to the “disenfranchised,” they always seem to make it more difficult or impossible for American military deployed overseas to get their votes to count. Besides greater access to absentee ballots, people off the street are allowed to vote for weeks before the election and have the opportunity to register the same day they vote, opening the door to rampant fraud.
We all know about polling, targeted polling and targeted advertising. The Democrats are also using data to see who voted early, find Democratic Party voters who haven’t voted early and harass them until they vote early. Then they take buses into densely populated neighborhoods and chauffeur people to the polls until they have a margin of victory in a swing state. Mitt Romney only won a single state by less than 6%, North Carolina. All the others (7 with a 5% margin or less) broke for Obama.
Donald Trump and probably Stephen Bannon are seeking validation rather than valid data. Trump loves big rallies because he can see lots of people cheering him. He likes fancy rented jets and big, gold-trimmed apartments in buildings he only partially owns because they are things he can see and sit in. I think he really doesn’t understand how Hillary Clinton can win when Trump has more people at his rallies.
Elections are a long game and a Trump loss will give me a new respect for the measured strategy of the GOP. However, they also need to understand that results and not promises are the way to keep conservatives. As of today, Trumps’ electoral map looks a lot like McCain’s on Election Day 2008. Ironically, on this day in 2008, McCain was within 14 Electoral Votes of beating Obama.