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Should Democrats Worry About the High Turnout in GOP Primaries?

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Obviously, this election cycle has taught us not to be too sure about anything, but I think that Trump would prove to be a very weak general election candidate:

The most obvious flaw in this argument is that there just aren’t that many “Reagan Democrats” who still vote for Democrats—people who Trump can sway to the GOP. White voters with “some college” or already overwhelmingly vote Republican. And Trump’ssky-high unfavorable ratings put him at a disadvantage in terms of attracting educated professionals who aren’t alreadyvoting for the GOP. The most promising terrain for new white voters—and for flipping states won by President Obama—is in the Rust Belt. But to carry the Rust Belt states (with the exception of Ohio), Trump would have to win a much, much larger number of white voters than Mitt Romney did in 2012. Sincethe white voters whose message Trump is most likely to appeal to are already voting Republican, this seems massively unlikely.

Perhaps Trump could succeed not so much by attracting new Republican voters as getting more Republican-leaning voters to the polls? This won’t be easy, either, as Republicans reliably turned out for Romney in 2012. It’s true, as purveyors of the “missing Republican voters” theory say, that the Republican coalition hasn’t been growing in recent years—so theoretically, at least, there’s room to add new voters. But any increase in white turnout is likely to be counterbalanced by the way Trump will mobilize minority voters, and particularly Hispanics, to the polls for Democrats. We can’t know for certain until the election happens, but it seems likely that Trump will compel more Hispanic voters to turn out in opposition than Romney did. That will increase the number of new white voters Trump would need to attract.

This aspect of a Trump nomination is particularly important, because it has effects that will extend beyond 2016. It’s worth remembering that George W. Bush lost Hispanic voters by only 18 points in 2004. Two cycles later, Romney and his “self-deportation” message lost them by 44. A Trump nomination would only accelerate this trend—and once people start identifying as party supporters, they become unlikely to change back.

If Trump gets the nomination, “anti-immigrant and particularly anti-Mexican-immigrant rhetoric is very likely to mobilize opposition on the part of the Latino community in November,” said Hannah Walker, a doctoral fellow at the Washington Institute for the Study of Inequality and Race at the University of Washington. Scholars have documented several examples of similar counter-mobilizations in the Latino community. Most notably, mid-’90s California initiatives directed at immigrants and bilingual education and Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” comments in 2012 seem to have mobilized Latino voters to turn out, and the passage of the anti-immigration “Sensenbrenner bill” in 2006 led to huge opposition rallies. It seems very likely that a Trump nomination would similarly motivate Latino voters to come to the polls in opposition.

Much more at the etc.

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