Donald Trump calls his presidential campaign a mass movement, but he must show they can coax enough support from voters who twice delivered the White House to Barack Obama.
The billionaire businessman depended almost exclusively on conservative and GOP-leaning whites — a lot of them men — to secure the . Now he must look forward to a wider, more diverse voting population in his likely general election matchup with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
His capacity to seize on marginal shifts during the electorate may see whether they can pull off a victory once unthinkable. Trump’s task is crucial to flipping back in the GOP column several of the most contested states that Obama won twice.
This challenge could very well be most evident in Florida, a culturally, racially and ideologically varied state where Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney four years ago by less than 75,000 votes away from more than 8.4 million cast.
This means small shifts anywhere in the electorate could make a difference — from turnout changes among white small-town and rural Republicans or urban, nonwhite Democrats to partisans, embittered by contentious nominating bouts, choosing third-party candidates or declining to vote after all; of course Trump can’t close the gaps in Florida, he has got little shot at winning key Rust Belt and Great Lakes states where Obama’s advantages were greater.
“We still elect presidents utilising the Electoral College … dependent on states which are made up of diverse electorates,” cautions GOP pollster Whit Ayres. “There aren’t enough angry white individuals to create a big part within the new America of 2016, (and) running up your numbers with white males in Mississippi does not get you yet another electoral vote than Mitt Romney.”
Certainly one of Trump’s vanquished primary rivals, Sen. Marco Rubio, told reporters this week Trump can win Florida, that has gone because of the winner in most presidential contest since 1996, provided that they can “continue to become Donald.” That brash outsider pitch has sewn up support from white men like Jack Oliver, a 66-year-old construction worker from West Palm Beach and 84-year-old Frank Papa, a retired grocery manager from Clearwater.
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Oliver cites Trump’s hard line on immigration and calls him a leader “who will finally give a damn about people just like me.” Papa, an innovative new Jersey native, says Trump “speaks my language, talks and thinks anything like me.”
But Trump must expand his reach. “If he can’t unify Republicans, there in fact isn’t enough votes for him in order to make up elsewhere,” said Steve Schale, who ran Obama’s 2008 campaign in Florida. He said Florida elections have already been close for a long time, noting 41 million combined presidential votes have now been cast since 1992, with less than 131,000 votes separating the combined totals of Democratic and Republican nominees.
Trump gives lip service into the electorate’s diversity, suggesting “the Mexican people” will “vote for me personally like crazy” and therefore he can win 25 % of African-Americans. The best wide range of African-Americans won by any GOP nominee since 1980 is mostly about 12 percent. He said recently he could lure “40 percent” of voters backing Clinton’s primary opponent, Bernie Sanders.
Some nonwhite Floridians mock Trump’s claims about his or her own appeal.
“I haven’t heard any one of my (black) friends say they’ll vote for Trump,” said Tanisha Winns, 39, a black Democrat in Lakeland, located along central Florida’s Interstate 4 corridor that twice helped give Republican George W. Bush the statewide victory before swinging in Obama’s favor. “If anything, I’m hearing my white friends say they won’t,” Winns added.
For the time being, Florida polls suggest Trump and Clinton are running about even, with about 15 percent undecided. But you will find variables which should give Trump pause.
In 2012, nonwhites accounted for nearly a 3rd of most votes cast in Florida, in comparison to 28 percent nationwide. But population growth, driven by Hispanics, suggests both numbers could possibly be higher come November.
Obama beat Romney among Florida’s black voters, with 95 percent. The president won Hispanics by a 60-40 margin, closer than his 71-27 advantage nationally, with numerous of Florida’s conservative Cuban-American voters accounting for any difference. Those numbers still left Romney too reliant on whites. He managed 61 percent of Florida’s white vote — much better than his 59 percent nationally — but he needed seriously to get nearer to 63 percent to win the Sunshine State’s 29 electoral votes.
Demographers and pollsters from both parties say Trump likely would need to push to the mid- to high-60s with whites — an even no candidate has reached since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide — to have the possibility nationally. That’s even more daunting considering an AP-GfK poll, taken in April, that found two out of three white women view Trump negatively.
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In Clearwater, Republican Barbie Sugas says she’s always voted for any GOP nominee, however the 47-year-old surgical technician said she’s “kind of leaning toward Clinton” because she does not “trust Trump” with international affairs.
To be certain, Clinton also must shore up her Democratic base, still divided with Sanders within the race. Jennifer Perelman, a Sanders supporter, says she won’t back the previous secretary of state. But she won’t vote for Trump either. Her plan: to vote for Sanders as a write-in candidate.
Ayres, the Republican pollster, affirmed that it is “not impossible” for Trump to fashion a fantastic coalition. But, he says, “You’re basically arguing that somehow, a consistent 20-year-plus demographic trend is merely planning to magically stop.”