Is Clinton "Inevitability" Building the Trump Phenomenon?
"Democrats Might Have a 2016 Turnout Problem" (source; click to enlarge)
by Gaius Publius
I've alluded to this before, but I want to say it up front. Trump may or may not be fading (lately), but in general, Republican turnout has been higher than usual and Democratic turnout lower overall. Why?
This is my hypothesis, which I would love to see data-tested. If you're one of these guys, a self-style independent who has simply had it with the way things are, and your goal this election cycle is to say, f-ck this sh-t, and you're looking for a place to park a primary or caucus vote — and if you can pick either party to make the statement that statement with — what are your choices?
Sanders or Trump, right?
Then you're told by every millionaire TV personality with access to a studio that, sorry, Bernie's not one of your choices, because Hillary (has the super-delegates; has the momentum; has the support of every insider that counts; has the support of everyone like you; has the experience; has more money that god herself ... you name it). And you sigh and accept that. What then?
If Bernie's not one of your choices, who's left? That would be Trump.
This may be a three-person national race to some extent (or a four-person race if you add in NotTrump), and if so, Sanders is losing because Trump is eating just enough of his votes to put Clinton in the lead in non-Southern Democratic primaries. Without the Trump effect and the "Clinton is inevitable" news message, the results may be different.
True? I'm not sure, but that's my hypothesis. Any data for that? Just anecdotal pieces like these. Not proof by any means, but still, highly suggestive.
Youngstown (Ohio) News: Mahoning Co. sees 1K Dems defect to GOPAnd yet Betras, a Clinton supporter (natch) sees no problem with this — "it doesn’t concern Betras," notes the writer. And frankly, why should it, if Trump is stealing Sanders votes? (Hint: Because if Clinton is the nominee, she won't get them back?)
About 1,000 Democrats in Mahoning County so far have switched their party affiliation to Republican with election officials saying several did it to vote for Donald Trump, the GOP presidential front-runner.
“We are seeing something this election cycle I’ve never seen before to this degree,” said board Chairman Mark Munroe, who’s also the county Republican chairman. “Every day I take phone calls or get voice messages from people saying they’ve been Democrats all their life and they’ve had it. They want to vote for Donald Trump. I’m surprised at the volume of inquiries we’re getting. It’s remarkable.”
A number of Democrats taking a Republican ballot when voting early at the board “say they want to vote for Trump,” said Joyce Kale-Pesta, Mahoning County Board of Elections director.
About 7,000 Mahoning County voters have cast early votes. Early voting started Feb. 17 and ends March 14, the day before the primary.
Of those 7,000, about 14 percent were Democrats who voted Republican, Kale-Pesta said. That’s about 1,000 so far.
The percentage of Democrats switching parties will grow even more, said board Vice Chairman David Betras, who also is the county Democratic chairman.
One more piece of anecdotal evidence, this time from Massachusetts, a state with a "mixed" primary (my emphasis):
Amid Trump surge, nearly 20,000 Mass. voters quit Democratic partySanders narrowly lost Massachusetts to Clinton, 50.1% to 48.7%, with Clinton coming off a big win just a few days earlier in South Carolina and headed to a predicted wipe-out in the southern states on Super Tuesday.
Nearly 20,000 Bay State Democrats have fled the party this winter, with thousands doing so to join the Republican ranks, according to the state’s top elections official.
Secretary of State William Galvin said more than 16,300 Democrats have shed their party affiliation and become independent voters since Jan. 1, while nearly 3,500 more shifted to the MassGOP ahead of tomorrow’s “Super Tuesday” presidential primary.
Galvin called both “significant” changes that dwarf similar shifts ahead of other primary votes, including in [the year] 2000, when some Democrats flocked from the party in order to cast a vote for Sen. John McCain in the GOP primary.
The primary reason? Galvin said his “guess” is simple: “The Trump phenomenon,” a reference to GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, who polls show enjoying a massive lead over rivals Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and others among Massachusetts Republican voters.
“The tenor of the Republican campaign has been completely different from what we’ve seen in prior Republican presidential campaigns,” Galvin said. “You have to look no farther than the viewership for some of the televised debates.
“The New York Times referred to the campaign as crude; I suppose that’s fair,” added Galvin, a Democrat. “The fact of the matter is the tenor has been very different this time. And that has an effect. People are interested. It’s exciting.”
Galvin said the state could see as many as 700,000 voting in tomorrow’s Republican primary, a significant number given just 468,000 people are actually registered Republicans. In Massachusetts, unenrolled — otherwise known as independent — voters can cast a ballot in the primary of any party.
So I ask again — is Clinton "inevitability" building the Trump phenomenon? Is Clinton "inevitability" draining some Sanders-leaning independent voters and passing them to Trump?
And if this is true, should the Clinton camp fear that they're building their enemy, building momentum for the Republican opponent just to drain support from their Democratic opponent? And if that is true, what might that bode for a general election, if the candidates are Trump v. Clinton?
I'd love to see solid data analysis about the turnout picture, something that factors in cross-party voting given a partly open three- or four-person race. I bet it would make fascinating reading. But back to the Clinton question, I'd be very concerned if I were that campaign. Shouldn't I be afraid of feeding the beast I would ultimately have to defeat?
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