Monday, February 22, 2016

Behind the Trump Numbers

If you listen to CNN and other news outlets covering the 2016 presidential primaries and caucuses, you could easily have the perception that there is a groundswell of support across the country for Donald Trump.  So, let's take a minute to look behind those numbers:
  • Of the registered voters in the United States, approximately 25% are Republican, and another 40% are Independent.  If we assume that half of the Independents are voting as Republicans, which is a stretch given Bernie Sanders's candidacy, then we will say that 45% of voters are picking up a Republican ballot.
  • The news outlets have talked about "record turnouts," but those are records for primaries, and the highest of them has been around 40%.
  • In the states where Trump has "won big," he's received about one third (33%) of the Republican votes.
So, if my math serves me correctly, we're looking at 45% of 40% of 33%, which turns out to be less than 6%.  In other words, in the states that have voted so far, less than 6% of all registered voters are picking Donald Trump for president.

Now, let's take it one step further and look at the specific states:
  1. Iowa, where nothing ever happens of any real interest to the rest of us.
  2. New Hampshire, which, for political purposes, is the Arkansas of New England.
  3. South Carolina, where they only recently removed the Confederate flag from the state capital.
  4. Nevada, (where Trump is expected to win big), where most of the state revenue comes from gambling.
It would be hard for anyone to claim that these four states represent the country.  Let's face it, there isn't even a major professional sports franchise in any of them, and together, they account for about 4% of the national vote.

Even if Trump's momentum continues as it has into Super Tuesday next week, we're still talking about less than 6% of the registered voters in the United States.  But the news outlets continue to report it like he's won the Super Bowl.

So, as you go about voting and watching the primaries, please rest assured that no one has ever won the presidency by winning 6% of the registered voters.  Even if you assume that only half of them will actually vote in the general election, then Trump is looking at 12% of the votes.  Unless he can seriously build on that base (at least quadrupling it), which is unlikely given the vehement anti-Trump sentiment, we can look forward to another Democratic victory in November.


  1. I completely buy your math here, and agree that the press is making a mountain out of an anthill, and we can only hope that it is Trump who is nominated because he is the most huge target the Dems have severe been handed to campaign against. BUT, I don't like painting such a slam-dunk conclusion on a Dem win because we want huge voter turnout to win back the Senate as well, and reclaim some of the House. If Dem voters assume the idiot will lose and thus stay home, we lose other areas we need to fix this country from the damage Republicans have done in the Congress and in single states.

    1. I don't think Democrats will stay home, but winning back the Senate and Congress will be hard.