We need to talk about your math skills.
There are a lot of people between us and our liberty. A lot. Like, a real lot. And there aren’t enough of us to get it back. Any way you do the math, we’re falling behind. Even as we win victories in state houses and governor’s mansions, we find that many of the people who should be fighting for our liberties have other priorities. And the farther down the ballot you go, the less people know about the big government tendencies of their representatives, and the less likely they are to hold them accountable.
Presuming you believe, like I do, that President Obama hasn’t been a good guardian of our liberties, a quick look at the numbers tells us what it’s like on the presidential level, and what we’re up against…
2008 – Obama popular vote 69,499,428 Electoral Vote 365
2008 – McCain popular vote 59,950,323 Electoral Vote 173
2012 – Obama popular vote 65,918,507 Electoral Vote 332
2012 – Romney popular vote 60,934,407 Electoral Vote 206
Even after 4 years of Obama, he only lost a few million votes and two states worth of ground. And remember, his campaign built a massive database of voters and contacts, data that the Clinton campaign is absolutely mining for their efforts this November. Meanwhile, Romney added 1 million more Republican votes over McCain and 33 electoral votes, and still fell far short of what he needed to win.
You can look at those numbers and make some educated guesses about 2016. But let’s add more data. The 2016 primaries were record-setting for turnout, right? Well, not quite. Combined, the two major parties didn’t bring out as many primary voters as they did in 2008. And though some are crediting Trump with driving millions of people to the Republican primaries, Republican die-hards – people so excited to vote they registered with the Republican party or otherwise made sure to vote in their first Republican primary – still fell quite a bit short of the 2008 Democrat primary numbers. This is the Republican field at its most engaged ever, they say, and yet it cannot compare with the Democrat party machine.
And keep in mind, Trump may have turned out more Republican votes in the primary than any other Republican candidate, but that’s a whopping…13.3 million votes. And given that more than 16 million people cast votes for other candidates in the primaries, it’s safe to say more Republicans voted against him than any other Republican nominee as well. He’ll likely convert some portion of those ‘against’ votes, but those numbers still only add up to around 29 million, less than half he would need to win decisively against Hillary Clinton.
But let’s pretend for a minute that Trump is going to work vigorously to win in November. Let’s pretend, too, that the name Clinton has a demoralizing effect on the Democrat voting population. What would that swing reasonably look like? A 5 million vote shift? Would that be enough to win? The popular vote shifting 5 million from the D column to the R column could do it, provided that the 5 million votes are in the right places. An extra 5 million votes from Conservative America – say Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska – wouldn’t change the election outcome at all. Those states are already pretty firmly in the R column. They can’t add to the electoral college numbers. But 5 million coming from states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida or Colorado; those could swing an election.
But you know what all the pundits say that we on the right need to do to win presidential elections?
RUN AS FAR RIGHT AS YOU CAN. IF YOU DON’T MILLIONS OF VOTERS WILL STAY HOME AGAIN.
(Note: the Bush 2004 ‘high water mark of R votes’ was only about 1 million votes higher than Romney, still not enough to have beaten Obama in either year)
Radio and FOX News Channel heroes of the right are so fond of telling us that our candidates lose because they are insufficiently conservative. If only they fought harder for conservative values! If only they agreed with conservative opinionistas more! If only they ran as TRUUUUUUE REPUBLICANS!
I don’t know that they’re wrong, exactly. But, and here is where I’m asking you to stick with me, I think it’s entirely possible that they could do just that and still lose. The people in Virginia and and Ohio and Colorado, for instance, have had opportunities to choose candidates much more in line with the radio hosts’ dreams in the last three years, and have still rejected them.
Colorado’s Bob Beauprez was a significant improvement over Governor Hickenlooper in 2014 – R LOST.
Ohio could have sent their state Treasurer Josh Mandel to DC as a Senator over Sherrod Brown in 2012 – R LOST.
Virginia could have had a Governor Cuccinelli instead of a Governor McAuliffe in 2013 – R LOST.
So in some places where Rs NEED to win electoral votes, they can’t even elect senators or governors of the sort that the Conservative Media Megaphones want running for president. Keep in mind gubernatorial or senatorial campaigns are much cheaper than national presidential campaigns. And if those candidates, who live in and presumably know those states well, can’t get across the finish line, how can a presidential contender of the same type?
Before we get to Part Two of this analysis, it’s a good time to stop here and pose some questions to ponder. Don’t just skim over them; think about them, let them stew in your brain for a while, and try to find answers to them before you go on to the next part.
- Can any Republican win without picking up at least several states that Obama won?
- How can any Republican presidential candidate (not just Trump, ANY candidate) increase the number of votes in swing states by significant margins to win?
- What would a campaign that was actively courting voters in swing states look like?
- How would those efforts look different from campaign activities in solidly Republican states?
- How would traditional mainstream media cover a typical Republican campaign versus a typical Democrat campaign?
- What side would Hollywood and Higher Education support in a presidential election?