Way back in May, when Donald Trump already was despicable but his supporters were not yet deplorable, and an obscene five-letter word for the female genitalia that he bragged about grabbing with his small hands had not yet entered the popular lexicon, I predicted that Hillary Clinton would win in a landslide.
Yes, yes, yes. I can hear you imploring me to not jinx the poor woman, let alone boast about my seeming prescience even if Clinton is pulling away from Trump in the big national polls and widening her lead in almost every swing state. My intention is not to do either. But I do know voter demographics and the national electoral map like the back of my hand, and have a PhD from the Electoral College, and most of that happens to be true.
But like most pundits, I initially misjudged Trump's longer-term appeal to angry white males even if I saw something ugly this way coming after the emergence of Sarah Palin in 2008 and the Tea Party victories in 2014.
Unlike a lot of pundits, I made a course correction on Trump in diagnosing the source of my night sweats way back in February in the run-up to the Super Tuesday primaries: Trump, I concluded, would be unstoppable in his quixotic march to the Republican nomination because he is the embodiment of what the Republican Party has strived to become in recent years as it tacked far from the shore and into an atavistic nativism, an aversion to governing and a fierce determination to make it difficult for minorities and other reliably Democratic voters to exercise that fundamental right. And he had an immovable core of supporters.
Yet despite these seismic shifts, only one thing has changed of consequence in the quadrennial presidential election equation. Voters haven't changed, by and large, the electoral map hasn't changed at all, nor has the Electoral College. What has changed is that although the two candidates have historically high negatives, Clinton is not trusted by many voters because of what she might do to the country whereas Trump is feared by many more voters because of what he surely would do to the country.
How hard is this core of Trump supporters?§
We're talking perhaps 20 million out of roughly 130 million voters, a scarily high number to be sure, but little noticed through the brutal primary season was that while Trump kept winning, he never won big against a field of mediocrities and his voter base did not grow appreciably, and certainly nowhere close to the extent that the Democratic nominee would be threatened.
Many voters believe that America is on the wrong track and Trump may have leveraged a perfect storm, as one pundit put it, in wresting the nomination from Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and other mediocrities. But Trump is so feared and so divisive that he will be driving hordes of voters -- including a goodly number of Republicans and many Independents -- into Clinton's embrace on November 8. There will be no comparable migration in the other direction.
With the 2016 version of Apocalypse Now with Trump playing Colonel Kurtz running 24/7 coast to coast, Clinton already has safely secured 246 of the 270 electoral votes needed to become president.
These 246 votes are a bare minimum, and for those of you keeping score at home, here's how she has amassed that impressive number: California (55 electoral votes), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), District of Columbia (3), Hawaii (4), New Hampshire (4), Illinois (20), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), Maine (4), Minnesota (10), Michigan (16), New York (29), New Jersey (14), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (20), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Wisconsin (10) and Washington (12.)
That total does not include 10 of the 11 swing states: Colorado (9), Florida (29), New Hampshire (4), Nevada (6), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), Virginia (13) and Wisconsin (10), where Clinton is polling well ahead of Trump. She trails only in the 11th swing state, Texas (38), and it's long past time that those chuckleheads seceded from the union anyway.
This bring Clinton comfortably into landslide territory with 350 electoral votes, or only seven more than Nate Silver and his crew are forecasting at the reliably reliable FiveThirtyEight, which tends to the conservative side in doing electoral math.
Beyond those daunting numbers, the biggest reason a Clinton landslide was more or less preordained is Trump himself -- a sociopath with a propensity for reckless cruelty, prone to banana republic fantasizing, pathologically unable to be even remotely humble or self effacing, and manifestly unfit for office. It was all but inevitable -- bloody inevitable -- that he would crash and burn. The only question was how and when he would wrest sure defeat from the jaws of victory against a vulnerable opponent.
It's hard to beat political analyst Larry Sabato when it comes to calling races.§
Sabato nailed the 2012 presidential outcome, including predicting the exact number of electoral votes Barack Obama would win. His initial prediction for the 2016 race was the Democrat getting 247 votes with the Republican winning 206 and 85 being toss-ups, and that was before Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015. Why did Sabato's math lean Democratic even way back then? Because Republican policies are broadly unpopular.
My prediction in May 2016: Clinton 347 electoral votes and Trump 191. Sabato's prediction today: Clinton 347 votes and Trump 191.
So why is that a landslide?
Because I said so.
There is no consensus view on what constitutes a landslide, so about the best definition we can come up with is an election in which the victor wins by an overwhelming margin. Which with Clinton flirting with 350-plus electoral votes and by some estimates beating Trump by an astonishing 10-plus percentage points in the popular vote, she most certainly will.
POLITIX UPDATE IS WRITTEN BY SHAUN MULLEN, A VETERAN JOURNALIST AND BLOGGER FOR WHOM THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IS HIS 12th SINCE 1968. CLICK HERE FOR AN INDEX OF PREVIOUS COLUMNS.
© 2015-2016 SHAUN D. MULLEN
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