(There’s a delayed Science Sunday coming. Been recovering from proposal deadlines.)
Every day, we are told that Hillary Clinton is going to be our next President and there is nothing that can stop it. Despite growing evidence that Clinton personally took money from people who had business before the government, despite the $16 million the Clintons have made in speeches over the last year and a bit, despite a growing scandal with the Clinton Foundation … she is inevitable. We might as well not even have an election.
One source of this inevitability is the supposed “blue wall”, the long list of states that Republicans simply can’t compete in. Supposedly the Democrats have so many electoral votes locked up in guaranteed blue states, that they could run Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer and win.
I’ve long been suspicious of this claim, since many of these supposedly unbreakable states have happily elected Republican governors and legislatures (hell, Massachusetts just elected another Republican governor). But now Nate Silver demolishes the wall. Looking back at the 2012 election, he find no real electoral advantage for either party:
Republicans, in all likelihood, would have won by similar Electoral College margins if they’d done as well as the Democrats in the popular vote, casting all sorts of cracks in the blue wall. Suppose, for instance, that Romney, rather than Obama, had won the 2012 election by 3.9 percentage points. What would the map have looked like?
It would have looked pretty red. A 3.9-point Romney victory represents a 7.8-point swing from the actual result. So if the swing were distributed uniformly, Obama would have lost every state that he won by 7.8 percentage points or less. That means he’d have lost three “blue wall” states — Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — along with Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia.
Silver goes on to point out that there is a blue wall, but it’s different than what most people think. If either party won a massive amount of the popular vote — the way Reagan did in 1984 — the result would not be as huge an electoral landslide. Both the Democrats and the Republicans would still win about 100 electoral votes even if they lost by 20 points because more states are either very red or very blue. Even then, however, I’m dubious. A real electoral implosion could change things even more than Silver anticipates.
(I think we are going to get a close election simply because most elections are close. The parties work pretty hard to align themselves along that 50% axis. After electoral massacres in 1984 and 1988, for example, the Democrats move right and nominated Clinton (who was liberal, but way less liberal than Mondale or Dukakis).)
In terms of 2016, this means that electoral strategizing — i.e., going with a Florida Republican to lock up Florida — is a fool’s game. The Republicans should concentrate on nominating the candidate who is going to win a national election, whether’s that Rubio or Bush or Perry or Walker or whomever.
There’s something else though. I think the effort to pretend Hillary is inevitable is strategic. I think the Democrats and their dogwashers in the media want the Republicans to feel hopeless and helpless, unable to stop the coronation that the Democrats and the media have been waiting for since January 2001. It’s why they pretend this “blue wall” of unbreakable states exists. It’s why they poo-poo every scandal that emerges with Clinton. It’s why they aren’t willing to ask the same questions about Hillary’s health that they were asking about McCain’s or Reagan’s (Clinton in 2016 would be only two years younger than McCain was in 2008 and one year older than Reagan was in 1980).
We’ve seen how these “inevitable” elections have been going for the Left in general (see recent UK and Australia elections) and Democrats in particular. Scott Walker was going to be recalled; instead he’s won three elections in a blue state. The Democrats were going to hold the Senate; instead they lost it. They were going to take back the House; they lost again. Since 2008, Barack Obama is the only real electoral success they’ve had.
That’s what’s going on here. Part of it is wishful thinking: if they pretend Clinton is inevitable, they hope it will make her inevitable. But it’s also conditioning designed to weaken the opposition and weaken the vetting of the presumptive candidate.
Don’t believe the hype. Clinton can be beaten. It won’t be easy — she’s going to be determined and have the press at her back. But it can be done.
Update: Politico has another of these the GOP is finished articles. Their logic is that Republican voters tend to be older (true) and older people are more likely to die (also true), therefore the GOP is dying. Because, apparently, in Politico’s world, no one ever ages and become conservative.