Feb. 22nd, 2016

maxomai: dog (dog)
This is shaping up to be a Clinton v. Trump election, despite the best efforts of the GOP establishment, on the one hand, to find a common candidate such as Marco Rubio, and the progressive and Millennial wings of the Democratic Party, on the other, to keep the Sanders revolution going.

A few weeks ago the thought of this match-up would have given me, as a partisan Democrat, great comfort. The conventional wisdom is that a Trump candidacy would be a trash fire to herald the demise of the GOP, because the voters would realize what a terrible, racist, fascist candidate he is, and he would lose in a landslide.

There's a lot of hyperbole in there, so let's straighten some things out.

First of all, disastrous elections do not sink political parties in America. Neither Wendell Willkie nor Barry Goldwater could sink the GOP permanently; the Democrats managed to survive Walter Mondale. In fact, the only thing that could sink one of the two political parties would be for the party to self-destruct over an issue, the way the Whigs did in 1860 over slavery, and the way the Democrats almost did in 2000 over the environment. So, even if Trump is an electoral disaster, the GOP will continue, even if they have to do some soul-searching to do it.

More importantly, I'm no longer convinced that Trump would be an electoral disaster. Check out the aggregate head-to-head polls of Trump v. Clinton; it shows Clinton beating Trump by only four points.

But what's really scary is what happens when you only include the polls with likely voter ("LV" for short) models. By way of background, polls with LV models only include registered voters that they believe are likely to participate in the general election, either because the voter participated in past elections, or because the voter meets a demographic profile. They tend to present a better picture of the general election outcome than Registered Voter ("RV") or voting-age adults models. And here's the thing, kids: when you only include LV polls in your aggregate, Trump leads Clinton by two.

(For what it's worth, Sanders ties Trump in LV polls, which may mean that the GOP just hasn't had enough time to go negative on him yet.)

Now, here's my prediction for tomorrow's primaries:

GOP Nevada Caucuses: Trump
Democratic South Carolina Primary: Clinton

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