As we enter our summer of discontent, Americans are besieged by reports of doom for President Donald Trump and for the right. In reality, however, we have three movies with three different interpretations being shown on one screen.
In this story, Joe Biden is pummeling Trump. Depending on which poll you read, Biden is up anywhere from 6-14 points in the polls. Most are in the neighborhood of 8-10 points. This is a rehash of the 2016 polling problems, but people have obviously forgotten all of this. They have forgotten that from July 2015 to June 2016 that there were 167 national polls on RealClearPolitics.com. In those polls, excluding a very early poll that had Trump up 8, no other poll ever had Trump up nationally more than 4, while Hillary Clinton was up by 14 (twice), 13, 12, 11, and 10 numerous times. The average Clinton polling edge was 4. Even allowing for the fact that Clinton won the popular vote by 3, that’s still an error. Of the 167 polls—excluding the very early Trump +8 poll—Clinton won 137 to 29 with some ties. But if the polls, in the end, were nearly close to the final popular vote, none----not a single analyst on the RCP website had Trump winning the Electoral College but top pollsters did!
Richard Baris’s “People’s Pundit Daily” polling and Trafalgar both had Trump winning PA, MI, and WI narrowly, and had him winning OH handily. Trafalgar polls only at the state level, so it had no “call” of the national race. But Trafalgar and PPD both had Trump up 6-8 in OH, when in fact he won by nearly 9! Trafalgar and Baris both had Trump winning in WI (though Baris changed his actual prediction to Clinton, telling me “I didn’t believe my own poll.”) However, the RCP average was off by a staggering 6 points! This is way outside the “margin of error,” a margin the mainstream pollsters use to conceal their inaccuracy. After all, they were “within the margin of error” in most of these states—but the fact is that “error” would have Trump winning as many as losing if truly random. The fact that all the polls, all the time, had Clinton winning, means they were ideologically driven, and their errors were not simply “mistakes.”
Based largely on the polls—and almost nothing else—movie viewers in movie 1 are convinced Trump is losing massively. This leads them, with no evidence whatsoever, that the Republicans will also lose the senate and that Democrats will retain the House. “Sources” (always anonymous) have been planting stories that “senators” are now concerned Trump will “take down the whole party.” (In case this sounds familiar, it was the same mantra the never-Trumpers used in 2016 trying to scare off GOP rank-and-file from voting for Trump. It didn’t work then and it’s not true now). According to this movie, thousands of people in the streets bumping butts, even failing to . . . gasp wear masks are not a threat to our health or can be disseminators of the China Virus, but 20 people in a bar are. According to this view, Trump is screwed if he opens the economy—which will...unleash the virus! —but is screwed if he keeps the economy closed. In short, Trump is doomed.
This is the RINO/never-Trumper/wobbly Republican film. In this movie, Trump isn’t quite dead yet, but his only salvation is to pivot abruptly from MAGA and go with a new bunch of messages that the experts and advisors (whom he currently doesn’t have of course) suggest. Once again, however, this movie is based on polls and the GOP consultant class which has a dismal record. Many have never won a major election. Others have won gimme state elections.
To this group of film viewers, it is impossible for Trump to win with his message. (They still haven’t explained why it worked last time). Rather he must be—as they always see themselves—a uniter. These are the “reach across the aisle folks” who, it might be noticed, all only have one hand because the other was bitten off. Still, they live and breathe for media and Democrat praise, which, in their eyes, means you are “working together.” Of course, in reality, it always means that the Republican is giving into every Democrat demand.
You see this group in action mostly in the media. Rich Lowery, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and others will “admit” to a media source with feigned regret that “Trump needs to change his tone” on whatever it is. Often, this group has no particular agenda. If one were asked today what National Review, for example, or Mitt Romney stood for, you’d be hard-pressed to get even three positions that Donald Trump didn’t already hold. Indeed, they would usually cite issues or positions that Trump already acted on.
Movie 2 people are all about style over substance. They are the ones who thought Barack Obama was smooth, a “good communicator,” and most important, Obama gave them the opportunity to praise him before they delivered their one critical comment. The pre-Trump years permitted this entire class to preside over cruises where they lamented the state of the nation; to appear on television as the controlled opposition who could joke about the stupidity and crassness of the Tea Party; and who could sell books and be celebrities who spoke to college Republicans. This group was extremely effective when it didn’t have to worry about seeing any of its purported ideas become actual law. That way they could “hold” the correct conservative positions while in a cocktail party, discuss things in broad generalities, but at the end of the night slap their hosts’ shoulders knowing that it was all just intellectual games that allowed them to stay friends because there were no real stakes. Trump threatened all that. Look for this group to always insist that Trump is “making a mistake,” “shooting himself in the foot,” or engaging in “self-inflicted wounds.”
The important thing to remember about Movie 2 people is that they are not much different than Democrats. They live to see Trump lose. No advice they give is ever sincere. It is aimed only at his—and our—destruction.
This film is based only on numbers, not “polls” or “feelings.” In this movie, Republicans have out-registered Democrats in Florida since 2016, so much so that a one-time Democrat edge in the Sunshine State of one million is now barely 200,000. The reddest of counties, like Polk, have seen huge surges, but even Gadsden, which is 56% black, has seen a higher percentage of people registering as Republicans than Democrats. In North Carolina—another state Joe Biden would have to carry merely to win (let alone have a blowout)—since 2016 the GOP has added and/or the Democrats have lost a net of over 200,000 to their rolls. Trump won in 2016 by 170,000 votes. Now that stands to be much higher. Ohio has a unique system that is often confusing by placing those who did not vote in the last election as “U’s” or “undecideds.” They are not “independents,” but either “lazy Democrats” or “lazy Republicans.” However, an analysis forwarded to me by a friend managed to allocate all Ohio “U’s” by their last 20 years of voting or by the voter registration of the owner of the home in which they reside. When all these “undecideds” are flushed out, Republicans have a 200,000 registration edge. Trump won Ohio by almost nine points in 2016: nothing has changed, or, if it has, it has only changed for the better toward Trump.
These kinds of numbers, examined in every state (Iowa Republicans regained the registration edge there this month), are cold and daunting for the Democrats. But there are two other massive forces at work against them and in Trump’s favor. First, as I pointed out last week in my “Back to School” article, the Democrats will likely start out this year down by one to one and a half million college-age voters who won’t be on campus, heralding a 30% drop (minimum) in 18-24-year-old turnout. Second, six major polls tracking Trump’s black and Hispanic approval over the last four years have found he is far ahead of his 2016 black percentage (8%), bouncing between 16% and 28%. These are stunning numbers, confirmed on the flip side by Joe Biden’s polling that is showing him at only 78% with blacks. No Democrat can hope to win a national election without a minimum of 85% black support: Hillary lost in 2016 with 88%. My own guesstimate is that Trump’s actual black vote will be between 11-12% . . . BUT that on top of that an additional 5-7% will stay home. This means the effective net vote for Trump (his votes, plus ½ of the stay at homes) will be in the neighborhood of 14-15%. Then there are Hispanics, where again a composite of six major polls over the last four years show him in the 33-40% range. Anything over 35% for Trump is untenable for the Democrats.
None of this even gets into the impact of Black Lives Matter (only if killed by whites) and its threat to the Snowflake Karen’s in the suburbs—which is real—or the anger and the frustration of businesses ruined by the ongoing governors’ lock-downs. Trump could easily expect a massive backlash vote from this group as well.
In short, I don’t do polls. I look at numbers. And the numbers suggest that Movie 3 is right but may not be as generous to Trump as it should be. I still have him at 320-340 electoral votes . . . but Biden could raise that number significantly.
Larry Schweikart is the co-author with Michael Allen of A Patriot’s History of the The United States, now in its 31st printing; the author of Reagan: the American President; and the founder of a history curriculum for high school/homeschoolers, the Wild World of History (www.wildworldofhistory.com). He accurately predicted the 2016 election in August 2015 saying publicly Trump would win with between 300-320 electoral votes (the final was 306).