The Cook Political Report, one of the most respected and accurate political forecasters, updated their “Political Scorecard” forecast for the 2016 presidential election in light of Donald Trump’s recent clinching of the Republican nomination, and things are not looking good for the GOP. The Report updated thirteen of its state ratings, which “are based on publicly available polling, data on demographic change and private discussions with a large number of pollsters in both parties,” and all but one of the changes favor the Democrats.
Indeed Donald Trump is so toxic to such a wide swath of the electorate – from women and latinos to independents and young people – and has such historic unfavorability ratings, that he has pushed many of the traditional “toss-up” states into the Democratic camp: Cook shifted Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, Virginia, and Wisconsin from “Toss-up” to “Leans Democratic.”
North Carolina and Nebraska’s 2nd congressional District (the state, along with Maine, allots delegates by congressional district) shifted from “Leans Republican” and “Solid Republican” respectively to Toss-up, while Arizona and Georgia, states that haven’t been won by a Democratic nominee in decades, were shifted from “Likely Republican” to “Leans Republican,” meaning they are potentially in play for the Democratic nominee. The only state that shifted to the right was Maine’s 2nd congressional district, which, possibly spurred by the potential involvement of the state’s blustery bigoted governor Paul LePage in a Trump administration, shifted from “Solid Democratic” to “Likely Democratic.”
All in all the new forecast puts 304 delegates in the Democratic camp, more than enough to secure the presidency, and many other political prognosticators are predicting an even more lopsided election. The University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, for example, adds Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, and North Carolina to the Democratic camp for a total of 347 delegates to Trump’s 191. Indeed, recent polling suggests that the backlash to Trump’s bigotry could be strong enough to place even solidly Red states like Utah and Mississippi in play, setting up the possibility of a landslide victory not seen in decades.
The leftward shift in the Cook Report and other recent predictions of Rust Belt states is particularly galling for the GOP, given that Trump’s only even vaguely conceivable hope of victory – and it is quite vague indeed – depends on a “Rust Belt strategy” of appealing to working-class whites in the industrial Midwest that have traditionally voted Democratic but could theoretically be swayed by Trump’s populism. The new polling data, however, suggests that these Republican predictions of states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – which have voted Democratic in the past six presidential elections – being “toss-ups” are nothing but the delusional fantasies that crop up every election year as the GOP tries to ignore the existential crisis it is facing.
The bigotry and hatred that the party has devolved into have alienated such a tremendous part of America’s increasingly diverse population that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the party to win national elections. While the party’s elite have recognized this issue and recommended cynical steps to remedy it, the rise of Trump has demonstrated that the party base is far from ready to move beyond a platform of hatred and exclusion. All such a platform will do in the end, however, is exclude the GOP from the White House indefinitely.
James DeVinne is a student at American University in Washington, DC majoring in International Service with a focus on the Middle East and South Asia. He is a founding member of Occupy Baltimore and interns at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.