Days of Change

Close, But No Cigar Jokes | October 1, 2016

In the last 6 presidential elections, the Republican has gotten the plurality of the popular vote once, George W. Bush in 2004. Before that, it was George H.W. Bush in 1988. That was likely helped by Ronald Reagan’s electoral coattails. Going back to 1988, here are the percentages.

Year     R     D     Span
1988   53    46         7
1992   37    43         6
1996   41    49         8
2000   48    48        0.5 (1 decimal point)
2004   51    48         3
2008   46    53         7
2012   47    51         4

In 1988, Bush blew away Dukakis by 300+ Electoral votes. Since then, Democrats win by 100 EVs when it’s close (2012) and about 200 when it’s not (2008). The last Republican victory in 2004 was only by 35. A shift of 3% of the vote in the 4 closest red states would have thrown the election to the House of Representatives.

What’s the point of all this? Today, the aggregate of state polls have Clinton ahead of Trump by 100 EVs. However, the leads in the states that decide the race are less than 3%, within the margin of error. Democrats are trying to convince themselves of a coming landslide, but if Trump doesn’t win, he could get extremely close.

The people opposed to Trump would like to believe than they can make the GOP great again by Trump losing and teaching a lesson to the rabble that they need the Republican elite as much as the elite need them to vote and shut up. The problem comes in if Trump loses by just 2% of the popular vote or by just a few Electoral Votes. In that case, a deeply flawed candidate with an inconsistent message beat two seasoned political veterans, namely John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Ironically, I welcome this message. 2014 is the template for a new Republican strategy. Let the establishment and the Tea Party candidates run in the primaries. If the Tea Partier wins, the GOP helps them win the seat. Work together and use the free market to decide.

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