One of the biggest myths of the 2012 election is that there were anywhere between 5 million and 65 million potential Republican voters who did not show up. This was a myth perpetrated by Fox News, Talk Radio, Breitbart News and conservative websites. This tale was perpetrated to make Republican voters feel good about themselves. Rather than be honest and admit the GOP has become a rural only party at the Presidential level, that needs to expand into suburban and urban areas. Instead it is feel good rhetoric about that people wanting free stuff or how losing is virtuous.
The following article debunks the missing voters lies and lays out the bare truth. The problem is not missing voters, it is that at the Presidential level, the Republican party has no appeal.
Give credit where credit is due. Donald Trump is basking in another big victory today. And there may never have been a campaign that bases so much of its reason for existence on “winning.” Yet, consider that even as Trump wins a landslide victory among Republican primary voters in New York, his polling numbers for November continue to plummet. According to the RealClearPolitics average of the latest polls, Trump would lose to Hillary Clinton — perhaps the worst Democratic candidate since George McGovern — by more than 9 percentage points. His net favorability rating is now just above 40 percent. That’s not exactly the stuff of “winning.”
To the degree that Trump has a strategy — a debatable point — it appears to be to appeal to disaffected white working-class voters, the oft-discussed “Reagan Democrats.” Trump hopes that by getting these nominally Democratic voters to cross over in November, he can expand the electoral map into the Midwest and other traditionally blue areas. In addition, Trump hopes to attract the 4 to 5 million “missing” conservatives who supposedly abandoned Mitt Romney in 2012. Unfortunately, as with so much about the Trump campaign, the numbers don’t actually add up.
Start with those missing conservative voters. It has become something of an article of faith on the right that as many as 5 million conservatives, disappointed with the moderate Mitt Romney, stayed home in 2012, costing Republicans the election. And on election night it certainly appeared that way, as Romney’s vote totals ran some 4 million behind those of previous nominees. And to be fair, it’s not only Donald Trump who believes this: Ted Cruz has also based much of his fall election strategy on this theory. But, as Sean Trende, perhaps the nation’s foremost voter analyst, has pointed out, that first look was misleading, resulting from slow vote counting in a number of traditionally Republican areas. Once all the votes were counted, Romney received 60.9 million votes, compared to 59.9 million for John McCain in 2008, and 60.7 million for George W. Bush in 2004. Moreover, exit polls showed that Romney performed roughly as well as both Bush and McCain among key Republican voter constituencies such as men, whites, evangelicals, and self-identified conservatives.
To begin with, actual Reagan Democrats — that is, the blue-collar Democrats who helped provide Reagan with his landslide victories in 1980 and 1984 — are mostly gone. If the average Reagan Democrat was 40 in 1980, the median voting age that year, he would be 76 today. Given the short life expectancies for white non-college-educated working-class men, a lot of those Reagan voters are not with us today.
In 1980, for example, even with all those Reagan Democrats, Ronald Reagan carried white voters by 10 percentage points. Mitt Romney actually won white voters by double that figure — 20 percentage points — but he still lost. That’s because whites’ share of the total vote fell from 90 percent in 1980 to around 76 percent in 2012. Even if Trump is able to push the white vote up by 2 or 3 points — something that he has shown that he is able to do in some primaries — he would still fall short in November. We live in a different demographic universe from the one we inhabited in 1980. And, while the absence of Barack Obama from the ticket could hurt minority turnout in some areas, the widespread antipathy for Trump among minorities would likely offset any falloff in the black or Latino vote.
Furthermore, all of this analysis presumes that Trump is able to hold traditional Republican votes, but that looks increasingly unlikely. Polls show that as many as 38 percent of Republican primary voters say they could not see themselves supporting Trump in November. One recent poll showed the Libertarian candidate — former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson — drawing 11 percent of the vote in a hypothetical three-way match-up with Trump and Clinton, even though he is virtually unknown outside his home state. Trump fares especially poorly with Republican women, with polls showing as many as 47 percent saying they cannot see themselves supporting the New York billionaire. Of course, many Republican voters will likely come home as November draws closer and they face the prospect of a President Hillary. But, given the demographic hill that Trump already has to climb, any loss of Republican support will pretty much doom his bid.
With Trump’s takeover of the Republican party almost complete and it’s transformation from a Center-Right to a Leftist-Populist party, many traditional Republicans are heading to the exits. The beneficiary is the Libertarian party, whose ranks are growing.
According to a recent Gallup poll and a report from Ballot Access News, the libertarian movement is not only gaining in popularity but is adding new members to the Libertarian Party. In fact, recent data shows that the it’s becoming the fastest growing party in the United States.
According to Cato‘s David Boaz, the number of people who identify as libertarian is increasing in the US according to the Gallup Poll’s 2015 survey. The results show that“27 percent of respondents can be characterized as libertarians, the highest number they have ever found,” as more people are identifying as libertarian than conservative, liberal or populist.
According to the March 1, 2016 Ballot Access News publication, Democrat Party registrations declined between Oct. 2014 and Feb. 2016. The same occurred among Republicans, Independents, The Green and Constitution Party. The only party that gained registrations is the Libertarian Party (See chart below on page 3. The chart shows the states in which people register by party).
Austin Peterson who is running for the Libertarian party has adopted many traditional Republican stances, like being pro life.
The defection of Republicans to the Libertarians will come back and bite the GOP in November. I wonder what excuse Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, Sean Hannity, Breitbart and other outlets will have when the GOP loses 3 elections in a row?