Trump’s problems start with the electorate’s demographics, though you wouldn’t know it given the chatter about his appeal with working-class white voters.
Trump has done well with working-class whites, and will continue to do so. But that’s not a game-changer in the general election because working-class whites are now a core Republican constituency, having fled the Democratic Party over the past three decades.
Their realignment is why states like Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas and Louisiana are now GOP strongholds.
An excellent January Wall Street Journal piece documented the change. In 1992, whites without a college degree constituted 63 percent of all registered voters. But in 2015, they accounted for only 46 percent of registered voters. However, they were still a substantial 58 percent of GOP voters, which is why they had a more substantial impact in the Republican race than they will in November.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of April 10-14, 2016, asked registered voters whether they wanted the next president to be a Republican or a Democrat. They preferred a Democrat, though by only a single point, 46 percent to 45 percent. But whites with no college degree preferred a Republican, 59 percent to 31 percent.
The same survey matched Clinton against each of the three Republicans then in the race. Among whites without a college degree, Trump held a 57 percent to 33 percent lead over Clinton. But Ted Cruz’s 56 percent to 30 percent lead over Clinton was almost identical, and John Kasich slaughtered Clinton 63 percent to 24 percent among those same voters.
The bottom line is pretty clear: most whites without a college degree are reliable Republicans, not a pool of new voters — or Democrats — for Trump to turn out in November. Trump’s appeal with those voters does not alter the election’s arithmetic.After exploding the myth of working class white voters expanding Republican support in the Fall, Rothenberg goes on to address Trump's problems with several demographic groups, including Latinos and African-Americans. He also notes that significant problem Trump will have with conservatives and other Republicans refusing to back the presumptive nominee. Romney had 90% plus of Republicans voting for him. Even with Hillary Clinton being so disliked, Trump, a lifelong liberal who has begun backing away from conservative positions since he became the presumptive nominee of the GOP, will be lucky to get 75% of Republicans backing him.
The supporters of Donald Trump like to portray the New York businessman as a unique type of candidate who has crossover appeal who will flip several states from blue (Democrat) to red (Republican.) The polling though currently shows Trump to be a worse candidate than the 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.
Head-to-head polling with Trump compared to the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, has been conducted in 26 states. Of those states, Trump is doing worse than Romney did in 18 of the states:
States Romney won that Trump would put into play according to the polling include Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Utah. Even Republican states like Indiana and Missouri are in reach of Clinton and are likely targets in November.
Now let's look at the 8 states where Trump outperforms Romney.
While 7 of those 8 states are blue, Trump only has a shot at picking up Minnesota and possibly Iowa. The other states are out of reach.
Some of the Trump supporters now fixate on a recent national poll by Rasmussen showing Trump leading Hillary Clinton by two points in a head-to-head matchup. Three polls released since the Rasmussen poll all show Clinton leading that match-up, with one, the CNN poll, showing the former Secretary of State leading Trump by 13 points. There have been 22 national Trump v. Clinton polls conducted since March 1st. Trump leads in only one of them, the Rasmussen poll.
Rothenberg is exactly right. White, working class voters are already a reliable Republican constituency. Trump is not expanding the electorate in the general election by getting those folks to the polls. If he were, the expansion of the Republican electorate would be showing up in the head-to-head polling. It is not.