Friday, March 18, 2016

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and the Impending Gender-Gap Explosion

In every presidential election since exit polling began over forty years ago, Democrats have performed stronger among women than men, while Republicans performed stronger among men than women. Of the eleven elections since 1972, Democrats have lost the female vote in four (1972, 1980, 1984, & 1988), all of which resulted in electoral landslide defeats for their party. The same is true for the three of eleven elections (1976, 1992, and 2008) where Republicans lost the male vote.

While the difference in voting patterns between the sexes is clear, the extent of that difference has varied widely throughout the years. In the most recent presidential election, the Democratic incumbent carried women by eleven points, while the Republican challenger carried men by seven, creating a gender-gap of eighteen points. But in 1976, when Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter defeated President Ford, the gap was less than ONE point. In 1972, when Nixon won reelection in a landslide, the gender gap was only three points.

The largest gender gap recorded by exit polling came in the 2000 election, where Gore carried women by ten points, while Bush carried men by eleven.

Yet in an election year where the most likely Republican nominee happens to have a knack for disparaging women, and where the probable Democratic nominee elicits an almost instinctual disdain from her male detractors, you have the recipe for a gender-gap explosion that could make the 2012 election, or even the 2000 contest, seem tame.

In fact, if current polling is any indication, that's exactly where we are headed.

Using national general election surveys released this year and compiled by Real Clear Politics, the average gender-gap across eight surveys is twenty-seven points. That's nearly ten points higher than the gender-gap seen in 2012, five points higher than the largest gender-gap ever recorded in a presidential election, and fourteen points higher than the average gender-gap in presidential elections since 1972. See below:

Friday, March 4, 2016

No, Trump Is Not Unusually Strong Among Democrats - But He IS Unusually Weak Among Republicans

From Mitt Romney's past dalliance with government healthcare and abortion, to John McCain's involvement with campaign finance and immigration reform, strict purity to conservative orthodoxy has never been a Republican prerequisite for the presidential nomination. But if Romney and McCain flirted with expanding the bounds of acceptable disobedience to GOP principles, Donald Trump has blown the lid off those bounds.

It started before he even officially entered the race last June, when Trump implored attendees at a Republican summit in April to resist reforming Social Security and Medicare. During the first GOP primary debate on August 6, 2015, Trump expressed admiration for Canada and Scotland's single-payer healthcare system. A few days later, Trump defended Planned Parenthood during an interview with Sean Hannity. Two weeks later, Trump suggested during a CNN interview that he would raise taxes on wealthy Americans, cleverly labeling it a hedge-fund tax. The following month, Trump signaled his disdain for free trade during a '60 Minutes' interview, telling Scott Pelley NAFTA has been a "disaster."  Believe it or not, the list goes on, but I digress.

Naturally, the historical nature of a Republican's brazen appeals to populist economic programs often identified with progressives led many political commentators to entertain an interesting theory: might Mr. Trump's overtures to the left pay dividends this November? Articles from Breitbart's Mike Flynn and The Washington Post's Philip Bump highlight Trump's support from a specific kind of Democrat - namely, ex-Democrats. The NY Times' hypothesis was a bit different, though not far off - a big chunk of Trump's support stems from self-identifying Republicans who, for whatever reason, are registered Democrats.

Regardless of the theory, beware of misleading headlines suggesting Trump could coast to victory in November on the backs of Democrats; because from the standpoint of general election polling, nothing appears nearly so out-of-the-ordinary. In fact, considering the eight national general election polls (with readily available crosstabs) conducted since the Iowa Caucus on February 1, Trump earns an average of just 9% from self-identified Democrats - essentially the same amount won by his GOP opponents Marco Rubio (9%) and Ted Cruz (8%). In fact, Mitt Romney, John McCain, and George W. Bush all polled better among Demo.crats than Trump during a similar period in their respective 2012, 2008, and 2004 (uncontested) primaries.

Not only that, but it's Marco Rubio - not Donald Trump - who holds Clinton to her lowest share of the Democratic vote. She wins, on average, 84% of Democrats in post-Iowa general election polling, while winning 85% and 86% against Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, respectively. See the table below: