For Donald Trump to win the general election and become America’s 45th president, he needs broader support from one, specific voter group than any Republican candidate has received, at least since Ronald Reagan in 1980, according to a new study published this week in Politico Magazine.
That voter group is white men, and to win against the election against either the probable Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, or against her dark horse challenger, Bernie Sanders, if he somehow manages to secure the nomination, Trump will need to dominate the white male vote to a greater extent than Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush were able to accomplish.
Trump certainly seems confident of victory. Watch his speech from Saturday, March 5, in which he describes what he sees as his chances of defeating Hillary Clinton, in the video below.
Each of those previous presidents named above, the three most recent Republicans to win election to the nation’s highest office, got there by winning just over 60 percent of white men. Both Reagan and the elder Bush won 63 percent in the white voter segment. Both of those presidents won their elections by comfortable margins.
But, the Politico study authored by David S. Bernstein points out, in 2004, George W. Bush won 62 percent, and won only a close election over Democrat John Kerry. And in 2012, Republican nominee Mitt Romney also garnered 62 percent of the white male vote — and lost the election by nearly four percentage points, about five million votes.
That was also an election in which Barack Obama became the first president since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 to top 51 percent of the national vote in two consecutive tries.
Shifting demographics have caused the total share of the national vote belonging to white men to drop from 45 percent to just 35 percent by 2012. As a result, by Bernstein’s calculations, Donald Trump will need to capture an unprecedented, at least in the last 36 years, 70 percent share of the white male vote.
In other words, seven out of every 10 white men who cast ballots will need to punch the name of Donald Trump for the 69-year-old New York businessman and entertainer — who will turn 70 on June 14 — to become president.
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Is that number within reach for Trump? While only time will tell, the results of a recent Quinnipiac University poll indicate that, while white men form the bedrock of the Donald Trump voter base, he still has a steep hill to climb.
The Quinnipiac poll, released on February 18, showed Trump in a hypothetical general election against Clinton capturing 57 percent of the votes cast by white men, compared to 31 percent for Clinton. The poll also showed 12 percent of white men saying that they would vote for a third-party candidate, would not vote at all, or simply had no opinion.
If Bernstein’s 70 percent benchmark is correct, at the Quinnipiac poll numbers do not change drastically over time, Trump would need to convert that entire 12 percent of white men to his cause, and would still have work to do in order to hit the magic number.
Bernie Sanders fares only slightly better than Clinton against Donald Trump with white men, according to the poll, claiming 35 percent support from that demographic while Trump captures 55 percent, with 10 percent saying they wouldn’t vote for either, or didn’t know.
Among the remaining Republican candidates, the one who fares the best among white men in a general election duel against Hillary Clinton is not Donald Trump at all — but Ohio Governor John Kasich.
Considered the most “moderate” Republican of the four remaining candidates, Kasich would garner 60 percent of the white male vote to just 27 percent for Clinton and 14 percent in the “neither” category. In other words, though he has not yet won a single primary or caucus and most experts give him virtually no chance of winning the nomination expected to go to Donald Trump, it is John Kasich — the recent poll shows — who stands the best chance of beating Hillary Clinton and becoming the next Republican president.
[Photo By Joe Raedle/Getty Images]