Donald Trump has a better shot at the presidency than Sen. Marco Rubio and is just as likely to win the 2016 election as Jeb Bush, say two embarrassed political scientists.
We know they’re embarrassed by their discovery because their Washington Post article buried that news far, far into their math-heavy, thumb-sucking, 20-paragraph, Sept. 25 perambulation.
In their article, the two academics first did some tricks with numbers, multiplied some percentages, added a few assumptions — and then subtracted their interesting conclusion from the lede.
Weird — why would they subtract their conclusion?
Because they concluded that Donald Trump “has a 54 percent chance of being elected president if he is the GOP nominee… [and] he is as electable as [Jeb] Bush and [John] Kasich and more electable than [Carly] Fiorina and [Marco] Rubio.”
Now that’s a conclusion worth putting in the lede, even though it assumes there will be no third-party candidate.
Sure, the article is built on the application of bloodless averages to an emotional and very unusual GOP primary in which outsider candidates are beating the establishment candidates by two-to-one or even three-to-one. This race is already so far outside the safety ropes of of academics’ averages that any green eyeshade calculation must be taken with several quarts of bad whiskey.
For example, one recent poll showed Trump getting 25 percent of the African-American vote. If that proves true late next summer, he’ll have the election in the bag because it would produce a six-point shift in the final result. The same poll showed him well ahead in the midwest, which is the GOP’s only path to victory in 2016.
What’s powering this support? It is almost surely Trump’s ability to win GOP and Democratic votes in the blue-collar suburbs by his championing Americans and by shunning elite preferences.
The professors hinted at this shockingly novel strategy — “promise benefits for voters, not donors” — when they noted that Trump is a not a doctrinaire libertarian, social-conservative, or business conservative. “We do not have an ideology score for Trump, his public statements suggest that he is fairly unconstrained by ideology — and certainly no orthodox conservative… prediction markets appear to believe his lack of ideological constraint is an advantage,” mumbled the embarrassed professors in the second to last paragraph of the 20-paragraph article.
But let’s not be mean to the assistant professors. They work in an intellectually bleached environment, where thoughtcrimes and perceived insults against the diversity totem poles can be rapidly detected and ruthlessly punished in their academic version of Room 101, the tenure hearing. So the two academics may resist CrimeStop, and are bravely trying to communicate with normal Americans by skillfully hiding their message behind distracting graphs and curves. If so, good luck to them.
Follow Neil Munro on Twitter @NeilMunroDC