Home/Fivethirtyeight.com on Douthat’s Democratic Disaster Scenario

Fivethirtyeight.com on Douthat’s Democratic Disaster Scenario

Following up on yesterday’s post about the state of the Presidential race, David Wasserman has run the numbers on how Trump could lose the popular vote while winning the electoral college — the very scenario that Ross Douthat fretted about:

Using a prototype of a demographic election calculator that FiveThirtyEight will be unveiling in the next few weeks, I decided to simulate a few election scenarios. Starting with 2012 results as a baseline and adjusting for demographic changes over the past four years, I tested what the map would look like if African-American turnout dipped, GOP support among college-educated whites and Latinos slightly declined, and noncollege whites rallied to Trump in large numbers.

More specifically, here are the conditions I used to set up a fairly plausible scenario that would scare the heck out of Democrats:

  1. Latino turnout rises from 48 percent in 2012 to 54 percent, and their support for Democrats increases from 71 percent to 74 percent.
  2. Asian/other turnout rises from 49 percent in 2012 to 54 percent, and their support for Democrats increases from 69 percent to 74 percent.
  3. African-Americans continue to give Democrats 93 percent of the vote, but their turnout falls from 66 percent to 60 percent.
  4. Among college-educated whites, turnout remains steady at 78 percent and Republicans’ share falls from 56 percent to 47 percent.
  5. Among whites without a college degree, turnout surges from 55 percent to 66 percent and Republicans’ share rises from 62 percent to 67 percent.

The result? Clinton would carry the popular vote by 1.5 percentage points. However, Trump would win the Electoral College with 280 votes by holding all 24 Romney states and flipping Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Maine’s 2nd Congressional District from blue to red. And the real disparity between the electoral and popular votes could be larger, because this model doesn’t even factor in Trump’s Mormon problem.

I did a similar analysis using fivethirtyeight.com’s old demographic calculator back in May, and got somewhat different results, so I’m really curious to see how the new model differs. I doubt that it accounts for the likelihood that, for example, Clinton would get a bigger boost among college-educated whites in Pennsylvania than she does in Texas, which could make the difference in a state that could well decide the election. But it’s a worrying scenario regardless.

about the author

Noah Millman, senior editor, is an opinion journalist, critic, screenwriter, and filmmaker who joined The American Conservative in 2012. Prior to joining TAC, he was a regular blogger at The American Scene. Millman’s work has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Week, Politico, First Things, Commentary, and on The Economist’s online blogs. He lives in Brooklyn.

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