"An electoral disaster waiting to happen": Demographics expert predicts Trump loss even "if 99 percent of white, non-college-educated men turned out to vote"

“We’re looking at a margin among college-educated white men for him that’s less than half what Romney won”

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published August 18, 2016 6:51PM (EDT)

 (AP/Charles Rex Arbogast)
(AP/Charles Rex Arbogast)

For over a decade, political experts have observed demographic shifts in the U.S. and concluded that a mostly racially homogenous Republican Party will be left in the wilderness during national elections. The browning of America, if you will, doesn't bode well for would-be conservative inhabitants of the White House.

Rehashing the quaint notion of a "silent majority" and recycling Ronald Reagan's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan, Donald Trump defeated 16 other GOP competitors with the pitch that his brand of brash celebrity and overt racial scapegoating can get disaffected white voters to the polls in numbers that will overwhelm the diverse coalition of voters rival Hillary Clinton would have to rely on to win in November.

In 1980, white voters were 88 percent of the electorate. By 2012, the white vote was down to 72 percent.

While his campaign implodes, with the the third shift in campaign leadership in as many months this week, a new New York Times report outlines just how improbable a win on the back of white voters will be for Trump in 2016.

The last Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, held a 27-point edge among white men to carry the male vote over all, despite losing the election to President Obama. Romney won white men who have a college education or higher, a group that votes at a higher rate than those without college degrees, by 21 points. In one crucial swing state, Ohio, Romney won men in Ohio by seven percentage points on the strength of the white male vote and still lost the state, 48 percent to 51 percent.

According to the Times, the situation is looking even worse for Trump.

"If Mr. Trump is only doing as well or worse than Mr. Romney did with white men, he will never make up the votes he is losing among women and nonwhites," the Times reported.

A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll had Clinton with 43 percent support among men to Trump's 42 percent. While a Bloomberg Politics survey showed Trump with a low-single-digit lead among men.

“We’re looking at a margin among college-educated white men for him that’s less than half what Romney won,” Gary Langer, an independent pollster who conducted an ABC News/Washington Post survey this month that showed Trump losing over all to Clinton, told the Times. “And that is problematic for Trump given his need to appeal to whites.”

Republican pollster Whit Ayers sounded an even more dire alarm for Trump.

“If you set out to design a strategy to produce the lowest popular vote possible in the new American electorate of 2016, you would be hard-pressed to do a better job than Donald Trump has,” Ayres told the Times. “This is an electoral disaster waiting to happen”:

William H. Frey, a demographics expert with the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan think tank, conducted several simulations that tried to determine how much the turnout among white men without college educations would have to increase for Mr. Trump to win. He used the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll of registered voters that had Mrs. Clinton beating Mr. Trump in a nationwide two-way race, 50 percent to 42 percent. It was among the better polls for Mr. Trump lately.

Mr. Frey tested different turnout assumptions, including improbably optimistic ones, like if 99 percent of white, non-college-educated men turned out to vote. None of the chain of events produced a Trump victory.

In fact, even if virtually all of the white, non-college-educated men eligible to vote did so, Mr. Frey found, Mrs. Clinton would still win the popular vote by 1.1 million.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Donald Trump Election 2016 Elections 2016 Gop Republicans White Men