Another day, another utterly ridiculous attempt at political narrative creation by the Washington Post. This time, it’s the Post’s Chief Correspondent, Dan Balz, attempting to argue that “a 2016 race between Clinton and Trump could devolve principally into a pitched battle for the Rust Belt.” In other words, as a comment at conservative Virginia blog Bearing Drift puts it (in a blog post on “stupid things people are saying about the presidential election”):
“The one thing you forgot to add to your list — all of the media spinning their wheels on how Trump can ‘re-write the map’ and be a competitive candidate in a desperate attempt to manufacture a horserace when he’s on track for a landslide defeat in the general.”
Of course, the Post’s political “analysis” is almost never correct — for instance, see my post on Chris Cillizza’s laughably wrong 2015 (e.g., for months he had “JEB” as the favorite for the GOP nomination and was completely writing off Donald Trump as a factor at all) — so we shouldn’t be surprised at the latest drivel by Dan Balz about how a likely Trump vs. Clinton contest would be super competitive, wild, crazy, map-scrambling fun! Yeah, sure, except for a few of those pesky things known as “facts.”
- A new poll by the Deseret News finds that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would defeat Donald Trump in deep-red Utah! If Trump is struggling to win Utah, which Mitt Romney won with 73% of the vote in 2012 and John McCain won with 62% of the vote in 2008, then, seriously, Trump is going to lose in an epic landslide, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan in 1984, Richard Nixon in 1972 or Barry Goldwater in 1964.
- Another new poll finds Clinton and Trump tied (and Sanders leading Trump by 3 points) in Arizona, which went for Romney 53%-44% in 2012.
- As for the argument that higher turnout for Republicans than Democrats in the primaries spells DOOM for Democrats in November, see Primary Turnout Means Nothing For The General Election by Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight.com. So much for that theory.
- Another poll in another key battleground state, Ohio, finds: “If Trump emerges as the GOP nominee, fewer than two-thirds of Ohio Republicans (64%) say they would get behind him in a general election against Hillary Clinton. Another 10% would actually vote for Clinton, 12% would vote for an independent or 3rd party candidate, 6% say they would not vote at all, and 7% are not sure what they would do.” Whoops!
- How about Florida? Uhhhh. “If Trump emerges as the GOP nominee, 3-in-4 Florida Republicans (74%) say they would get behind him in a general election against Hillary Clinton. However, 8% would actually vote for Clinton, 9% would vote for an independent or 3rd party candidate, 4% say they would not vote at all, and 5% are not sure what they would do.”
- As for the “Rust Belt,” the Real Clear Politics polling average has Clinton up 7.8 points over Trump in Michigan; 10.5 points in Wisconsin; etc. Sure, things could change by November — my guess is that Trump will actually do WORSE than these numbers once people really focus on the concept of that lunatic having his finger on the nuclear trigger — but for now, there’s no sign of Balz’s “pitched battle for the Rust Belt.” At this point, if there’s a “pitched battle” anywhere, it looks to be in deep-red states like Utah. But hey, you gotta sell newspapers/attract “eyeballs” and all that.
- Overall, the Real Clear Politics polling average has Clinton ahead of Trump 47%-41% nationally, with the latest two polls (NBC/WSJ and ABC/WaPo) showing her up 13 points and 9 points, respectively. The last time someone won the White House by 13 points or more was in 1984, when Reagan beat Mondale by 18 points.
Bottom line: Most certainly, Democrats should NOT get overconfident, as anything can happen in a presidential election, but right now it’s very difficult to see how Trump would win any state that Obama won twice, while it’s easy to see how Trump could LOSE several states that Republicans won in 2008 and 2012. As for Dan Balz and Company, I might take them a bit more seriously if: 1) they didn’t have a vested interest in creating a particular narrative; 2) they were right about stuff more than once in a blue moon.