Trump Plays His Violin While the GOP Burns

Can Trump Defy Demographics in the General Election?

The 2016 election has had a huge cast of characters and plot twists worthy of a George RR Martin story.

As we wind down the primary season with Trump and Hillary headed towards a showdown, here is how we got here.


The GOP fielded 17 candidates to begin. Here are the more note-worthy candidates.

  • Ben Carson: Soft spoken doctor with socially conservative views including pro-life and climate-change denial ideas. Dr. Carson surprised everyone by taking an early lead before the primary season began. Carson lost momentum as the primaries began and Donald Trump asserted himself as the front runner.
  • Donald Trump: The billionaire with elitist upbringing captivated the nation and media with his entertaining and outlandish statements. His policies and speeches highlight policies that are anti-immigration, anti-Muslin and unpopular with women. His rallies have been huge with his strong appeal for conservative, white male voters. His more entertaining campaign highlights include a promise to build a wall on the US-Mexican border, and to get Mexico to pay for it. His other memorable idea was to temporarily ban all Muslim immigration in the wake of the San Bernadino shooting.
  • Jeb Bush: The former Florida governor raised huge funds for his campaign. His mellow demeanor contrasted sharply with Trump’s energetic approach to Bush’s detriment. Weak debate performances and the Bush name and legacy hurt his appeal with Republican voters as well.
  • Chris Christie: The controversial New Jersey governor could not shake his Bridgegate contoversy. Christie campaign never got off the ground. In classic Christie fashion, he took down a key rival to Trump, Marco Rubio, during a key debate before exiting the race.
  • Marco Rubio: The young rising star of the Republican party had the backing of the GOP establishment after Jeb Bush could not get his campaign in order. A few missteps and the Christie attack hurt Rubio. After losing big in his home state of Florida to Trump, Rubio is left wondering if the Republican party is ready to embrace a Latino champion.
  • John Kasich: Moderate candidate who despite winning only his home state of Ohio is inexplicable still staying in the race. How Kasich expects to get the Republican nomination despite carrying only one state is a head scratcher.
  • Ted Cruz: Controversial Texas Senator notoriously unpopular with his own GOP colleagues in the Senate, Cruz has done well with evangelical voters and has posed the only true opposition to Trump.


  • Hillary Clinton: Former 1st Lady, Former Secretary of State, and Former New York Senator. Early on, it appeared that Hillary might run unopposed. Then along came Bernie.
  • Bernie Sanders: Vermont Senator. Socialist running on a progressive platform. If not for Trump’s fascinating campaign, Sanders would be the big surprise in this election. An elderly Jewish Socialist found huge popularity with young voters. Totally unexpected. Sander’s more interesting ideas include free tuition for higher education and campaign reform.

History Repeating Itself, But This Time It Looks Worse for the GOP

To say Trump is preaching to the choir is an understatement. He is preaching the choir while loudly broadcasting to non-members that they are not welcome.

After the 2008 and 2012 Presidential loses, the GOP was supposed to reconsider their platform. In particular, the growing Latino population was moving away from the GOP and increasingly voting for the Democratic party. The GOP leadership was supposed to improve their appeal and outreach to this hugely important demographic group. Instead, Trump had tacked in the complete opposite direction. To make matters worse, Trump is also losing the women vote with his increasingly misogynistic comments as he attacks Hillary.

Latino Votes:

  • 2008–67% of Latinos voted for Obama, 33% for McCain.
  • 2012–71% of Latinos voted for Obama, 29% for Romney.

Women Votes:

  • 2008–57% women voted for Obama, 43% for McCain.
  • 2012- 56% women voted for Obama, 44% for Romney

In 2012 Romney won the men’s vote over Obama. 58% for Romney versus 42% for Obama.

Trump has been caustic with his attacks on women and Hispanics. 2016 looks to continue to widen the gap between Democrats and Republicans for these two groups. Further adding to Trump’s challenge is that his remarks are likely to have these groups (especially Latinos) turn out in high numbers.

How Much Purple Is Left?

Against GOP party strategists plans, Trump is deeping the divide between red and blue states. Trump’s strategy to turn red states redder and blue states bluer does not change the electoral math. If we see a repeat of 2008 and 2012, Hillary will go on to be our first woman president.

What We Know

Clinton will take the coasts. Trump will take the South. What is left for the battlegrounds will be moderate states with a high percentage of white voters.

Trump will have to figure out how to get some of purple states such as:

  • Colorado (blue 2008 and 2012)
  • Minnesota (blue 2008 and 2012)
  • Wisconsin (blue 2008 and 2012)
  • Indiana (blue 2008, red 2012) * ONLY ONE OF TWO STATES THAT CHANGED COLOR BETWEEN 2008 AND 2012.
  • Ohio (blue 2008 and 2012)
  • Florida (blue 2008 and 2012)
  • Virginia (blue 2008 and 2012)

Trump is likely to do well with men, but that did not help Romney in 2012.

If Trump cannot change the map from 2008 and 2012, the GOP will need to get serious about changing their messaging. They had a chance with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio to field an electable candidate. Trump and Cruz have prevailed despite strong evidence showing that 2016 is developing into a repeat of the last two elections…except even less favorable for the GOP. Will this be the year that the GOP gets serious about change, or will they treat this like so many New Year’s Resolutions that last for a few weeks before being abandoned because change is hard?

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