The one big thing that might doom Trump in November

Race, obviously.

The other day I wondered what issues offered potential for the left-side party to raid the right-side for some voters. But that’s abstract compared to this actual election. This is my thought on what happens if it comes down to Trump and Clinton.

John Cassidy at the New Yorker runs through some speculation about how Trump could win a general election. It seems to boil down to bringing in enough White working-class voters to win Rustbelt states that Obama won like Michigan (Obama +9.5%), Pennsylvania (Obama +5.2%), and Ohio (Obama +1.9%). Setting aside his prospects among Whites, I’m very skeptical he can win those states (or some others) with basically no Black and very few Latino votes.

To show the depth of ill will between Trump and African Americans, here are the feeling thermometer distributions from the 2016 ANES Pilot Study, taken in late January. People were asked to rate candidates from 0 (very cold, unfavorable) to 100 (very warm, favorable).

Lots of people hate Trump, but no group hates him like African Americans (other variables, like age and education, perform as expected, but nothing is as strong). Obama got something more than 90% of Black vote in 2012. It’s hard to see even 10% of Black voters going for Trump. Especially given Hillary Clinton as an opponent. She might not inspire the same turnout as Obama, but she’s very popular among Black voters. Here are her thermometers:

That Black Clinton thermometer is a basically a mirror-image of the one for Trump. The poor feeling toward Clinton among Whites is obviously a problem, but I still think Blacks and Hispanics can sink Trump.

For what it’s worth, the racial feeling seems mutual. ANES also asked the feeling thermometer about Blacks. Here are the White feelings toward Blacks, adjusted for age, gender, and education level — according to their feelings toward Trump:

The linear trend, which is highly significant, is about one-eighth of a point down on Blacks for every point up on Trump. That’s America for you – even though Trump is mostly going after immigrants and Muslims in this election, racism is always also about the Black-White thing.

(Follow the elections tag for the series.)

Disclaimer: I’m not a political polling expert, this isn’t real research and it hasn’t been reviewed, and I could be completely wrong.

13 thoughts on “The one big thing that might doom Trump in November

      1. If everyone but Bob rated a movie at 71 on a 0-to-100 scale, and Bob rated the movie at 56, that does not permit the claim that Bob hated the movie. Similarly, the fact that some people reported very warm feelings toward blacks does not necessarily mean that those who reported the least warm feelings toward blacks are racist toward blacks.

        I’d describe the 15-point difference as follows: Compared to persons who rated Trump the lowest, persons who rated Trump the highest rated blacks on average 15 points lower on a 0-to-100 feeling thermometer.

        The 15-point difference is a relative difference, and I think that racism is a concept better measured in absolute terms than in relative terms.

        If my analysis is correct, there is a 30-point difference in the feeling thermometer rating for whites, comparing blacks who rated Hillary Clinton lower than 50 to blacks who rated Hillary Clinton higher than 90 (small sample sizes, but the weighted 95% confidence intervals don’t overlap). Blacks who rated Hillary Clinton higher than 90 rated whites on average at 67 on the feeling thermometer, and blacks who rated Hillary Clinton lower than 50 rated whites on average at 37 on the feeling thermometer scale. How would you interpret that 30-point difference?


          1. So if the situations are not parallel, is there a multiple of the 15-point difference among whites with regard to Trump that you would consider to be equivalent among blacks with regard to Hillary Clinton? Or is the idea that feeling thermometers can be used to infer racism only among whites?


    1. Those are the percentage of each group that feels that way about the candidate. So, looking at the first figure, more than 60% of Blacks rated Trump at or near the bottom of the scale.


      1. Ah sorry, I was trying to read it the opposite way around, as though the left hand side was feeling towards Trump. (It was early over this side of the globe, what can I say.) Looking at them anew, it’s encouraging though that more whites really dislike him than really like him.


  1. Are you familiar with so called “Sailer” strategy? Steve Sailer around 2000+ wrote that Republicans can safely win very election up to 2030 ignoring all black votes and hispanics, if they only can mobilise higher white turnout and get more whites to vote for them. His prediction is based on the fact that hispanics do not seem to vote, blacks’ also have lower turnout, and any gains for republicans in those demographic groups will not be good enough to win the elections. On the other hand, Sailer claimed, republicans need just to mobilise slightly higher white vote count than during Reagan’s time.

    Trump seems to be trying Sailer’s strategy. In other words, try to lure more white votes, increase their turnout, while ignoring non-white voters, hoping that they will not show up to the election booths.

    And if you want really, really nasty Sailer’s strategy, he once suggested that Republicans should try to portrait Democrats as “black” party – because he thought that in a diverse, divided societies the identity issues start to matter more than economical issues (i.e. in say Bosnia, in hypothetical pan-Bosnian elections leftwing Croat would probably more likely vote for rightwing Croat than for leftwing Serb).

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  2. As another poster above notes, the minority votes have been really hard to come by. The total vote is dominated by 73% white (including jewish), 12% black; 10% Hispanic; 3% Asian, and 2% other. The 12% black vote is a mirage; never had it exceeded 10% pre-Obama. A candidate can poll less than 10% minority vote, and two-thirds of white vote and win. This has consistently happened in the last 3-4 elections, and it has needed the great communication skills of Clinton and Obama to bring in 25-27% minority participation and get 70-90% of the minority vote.

    None of this means that Trump will be able to pull 2/3rds off white vote, but if he does, his lack of popularity with minorities is irrelevant.


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