Hey, kids! It’s math time!
We hear a lot about Donald Trump’s base. He’s always playing to his base. There’s little those of us who believe his actions have been dangerous to our society and to our collective livelihood can do about Trump because of that base.
Bullshit. Indeed, such claims are virtually… baseless.
There’s no question the Republican Party as we once knew it has been taken over by Trump. As I’ve stated previously, I kinda miss the pre-neocon Republicans but I have no sympathy for the current gaggle of cowards who sit by and let Trump have his way with them. The foremost skill a successful politician must have is the ability to count noses. You don’t let the polls do your counting for you without looking at the numbers behind the numbers – where your constituency stands at on the sundry topics of the day and how those numbers have changed during the previous weeks. And the Republicans no longer know how to do this.
Over the past year the Republican Party has been hemorrhaging voters, according to the Brookings Institution, to Gallup, to Monmouth University, and to FiveThirtyEight. This does not necessarily guarantee Democratic victories, however, as it appears most of the Republican ex-pats now self-identify as independents. Nonetheless, they are not too fond of President Trump and they are “in play.”
Let us remember that Republican voters are dying off a lot faster than Democratic voters. That’s not a health issue; the average Republican is older than the average Democrat. The Grim Reaper has yet to be seen wearing campaign buttons.
Right now, approximately 28% of the electorate self-identifies as Republican. Right now, approximately 88% of those Republicans are down with Trump. That means 88% of 28% of the electorate can be perceived as Trump’s base. That’s slightly less than one-quarter of the electorate. Under our ridiculous voting laws, if those one-out-of-four voters are exceptionally well-placed it is possible to win a presidential election. Less so now than two years ago, but it’s still mathematically possible.
2018 is not a presidential election year. All of the seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs, as are one-third of the Senate seats. There are hundreds of equally important state legislature races as well. Clearly, the election is – as “off-year” elections usually are – a referendum on the POTUS’s performance.
The Republicans are going to need more voters than the Trump base provides. A lot more.
There’s an old-timey political meme: you never, ever take anything for granted. The scariest campaign commercial ever broadcast was aired only once, the night before the 1964 Presidential election. In it, the Democrats showed us that if we voted for Barry Goldwater, we would likely get nuked. At that time – Monday, November 2, 1964 – everybody believed Lyndon Johnson had it in the bag. But the Democratic Party did not assume “everybody” was right, and so they aired this very scary commercial.
The next day, LBJ defeated Goldwater handily. He carried 44 states plus the District of Columbia. Would Johnson have won without making voters first change their underwear? Almost certainly.
But they did not take victory for granted. Not in 1964, when they already had it in the bag.
There’s an important lesson here. Register and vote. Take nothing for granted.