Trump’s supporters may already be counting their 2020 chickens, but should they really be taking a victory lap before the race even starts? Trump’s personal brand has always been based on the corporate maxim “perception is reality“, but neither he nor the Republican Party can “fake it until you make it” through political realities.
And no, I’m not even talking about his profound legal troubles at this point, so let’s put them all aside and assume Trump somehow skates on every criminal and House investigation into his personal and political behavior over the past few years. No, Trump’s worst election problems actually come much more recently.
Over the course of the last two years, Donald Trump has often claimed that his 2019 victory was a “landslide” (it wasn’t), but the trick lies in what Trump means when he uses words like “greatest“, “biggest“, and “landslide“. In the corporate world, this is just called “brand marketing“. In politics, it has a bit more sinister name: “propaganda“.
But let me demonstrate what I mean by demonstrating just how Trump’s ridiculous “landslide” claim stacks up against a couple of actual political “landslide” victories. In 1980, Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter, taking 44 out of 50 states, with a margin of 38 states. Carter won only 49 Electoral College votes. That was a “landslide”.
Then 4 years later, Ronald Reagan faced off against Walter Mondale in an election where Reagan took all but 1 state contest. Ronald Reagan ended the night with 49 out of 50 states under his belt. For the Trump supporters out there, that’s a margin of 48 states. Walter Mondale ended the night with a grand total of 13 Electoral College votes.
Now, whereas Reagan’s opponents could count their state victories in the single digits, Donald Trump lost 20 state contests to Hillary Clinton, for a margin of just 10 states. Further, Hillary Clinton ended 2016 with 227 Electoral College votes, 4.5 times more than Carter won in 1980 and over 17 times more than Mondale won in 1984.
But the race was much closer than the raw number of states won. In practical terms, Hillary Clinton only needed to win 3 more states contests, not 10, to win the White House, and that’s where we finally come to the real problem for Trump in 2020. Not only could Hillary Clinton have won those 3 states, she should have won them.
It all comes down to those three states that went red in 2016, but just barely: Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Yeah, Trump supporters, we know that Trump won them, but he won them by tiny margins of victory, 1 state (Michigan) by less than a quarter of a percentage point, and all 3 of these states went deep blue in 2018.
In 2016, Pennsylvania went for Trump over Clinton by a margin of 44,292 votes. Michigan went for Trump over Clinton by a margin of only 10,704 votes. Wisconsin went for Trump over Clinton by a margin of 22,748 votes. These are tiny margins of victory in three very large states. Now, however, it’s 2018 that we’ll need to look at.
Even if the state parties wanted to play it safe, the national Republicans ran on supporting Trump, and the Senate races served as a proxy battles for continuing the Trump presidency. In Pennsylvania, the margin of Republican defeat was 657,552 votes. In Michigan, it was 275,660 votes. In Wisconsin, it was 288,843 votes.
In these 3 key states that came within 78,000 votes of giving Hillary Clinton the White House in 2016, every Republican Senate candidate lost. Every single one. And they lost by a margin of 1,222,055 total votes. Now, that alone should cause Trump supporters to reconsider their chicken tallying, but it probably won’t. That’s their problem.
The reality is that the 2018 midterm elections indicate Trump and the Republicans have lost a lot of ground in 3 large Electoral College states they simply cannot afford to lose, and, whether Trump supporters like it or not, the numerous ongoing criminal and House investigations into Trump’s personal and public life come into play.
That whole “perception is reality” thing is a double edged sword, and the facts are that the people who are going to vote for the Democrats are going to be listening to the people the Republicans don’t want them to listen to. Shouting “fake news” or “fake polls” doesn’t make this problem go away for Trump or the Republican party.
Liberty is For The Win!