Based on polling data available, 2016 is going to be a tough year for Republicans.
In the last two presidential elections, Barack Obama was able to easily crush John McCain and Mitt Romney. The Republicans have done well in the off years, but we haven’t won the Presidential Election since sitting President George Bush was challenged by a fairly weak John Kerry in 2004. Prior to that, we lost the popular vote in 2000 to Gore and only secured the presidency based on the vote of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner. And before that, you’d have to go back to 1988 when George HW Bush won the presidency immediately following his stint as Vice President for two terms with Reagan.
The demographics in this country have changed in the last few decades, to the point where Republicans just have a hard time winning with the Presidential electorate. Maybe we’re past the tipping point where too many voters are dependent on the Government for sustenance and therefore continue to vote for more and bigger government through the Democratic Party. The only chance the GOP seems to have is to actually grow that Big Tent we always hear about. We can’t just depend on people over 65 and Whites to win. We need to go after constituencies we’ve never fought for before. And we need to nominate a Republican who can win over not just the GOP base but also independents and disaffected democrats.
Looking at the electoral map, Republicans are at a disadvantage at this point. No matter who we nominate, we can count on winning 191 electoral votes just by the candidate having an R after their name. These guaranteed states are: AK, AZ, UT, ID, MT, WY, ND, SD, NE, KS, OK, TX, LA, AR, MO, MS, AL, GA, SC, TN, KY, IN and WV. But in order to win the candidate must win 79 more electoral votes in the Battle Ground States.
The battle ground states are: NC, FL, OH, VA, CO, PA, NH, IA, NV, WI, MN, MI, NM and OR. In 2012 Romney won only one battleground state: North Carolina and its 15 electoral votes. This put his total at 206, well short of the 270 needed. If we want to win in November, we need to elect a candidate who is MOST able to win 79 electoral votes out of those battle ground states.
It’s fairly early in the Presidential nominating cycle at this point, but there is already a plethora of polling data available. Below I have come up with an infographic to visually show how each potential Republican Nominee would do in the general election versus Hilary Clinton in these battle ground states.
There is not data available for all the candidates and some states have more polling data than others. But essentially I’ve taken the average margin versus Hillary of each Republican expected to run and compiled the data together to see who stands the best chance in the general election. No matter who the candidate it is, this polling data tells us it’s going to be an uphill battle.
A few notes about Methodology:
- If a Republican candidate is polling even with Clinton their chances of winning the state are at 50%
- For every 1 percentage point difference versus Clinton, the chances change by 5%
- So for example, in Florida Jeb Bush is polling ahead of Clinton by 1.4 pts, therefore his chances are 57% 50% + 1.4 * 5%
- This procedure was done for all candidates where there is polling data available
- The battle ground states are sorted by Romney’s margin of Victory (Defeat) in 2012, and the electoral votes of each state are listed next to the state
- For each state, the best performer is highlighted green and worst is highlighted red
Looking at the data above can be a little bit overwhelming, but I think the easiest way to analyze it is to look at what states each candidate needs to win in order to break 270 and also looking at their respective chances in each of those states.
I think the wisest way to see which candidate can win is to look at the very last state they need to win to break over 270, or the marginal state needed for victory. So this would assume that they were able to win every state where their chances are higher than this 270-breaking state.
Marco Rubio emerges as the one most likely to win. By winning NC and PA, where his chances are 38% each, he amasses 274 total delegates and becomes the next President. This 38% chance is the equivalent of saying if Rubio is able to win every state where he polls within 2.4% of Hillary Clinton, then he’ll win.
Rand Paul is the next best positioned. In addition to winning all states where his chances are higher, he would also need to win VA where his chances are 35%. Next comes Chris Christie, who needs to win PA where his chances are 25%. And then comes Jeb Bush, who needs to win OH, where his chances are 23%. Scott Walker comes in as the 5th most electable, who needs to win VA with a 20% chance. Next is Mike Huckabee, with an 18% chance of winning FL. Ben Carson and Ted Cruz come in last where they each have a 10% chance of winning FL. Ben Carson is able to amass enough delegate votes even though there is no polling data for him in VA or CO (states that others have used in this hypothetical scenario to achieve 270). At this point, there is not enough polling data on any other candidates to come to an electability conclusion one way or the other.
This data is summarized graphically below:
In conclusion, if the Republicans want to win the presidency in 2016, they need to unite around a candidate who is most able to beat Hillary Clinton. Right now that candidate is either Marco Rubio or Rand Paul.
As time goes on this data will change, but as it stands now, we need to maximize our chances. Nominating Jeb Bush will mean our hopes will be dependent on him overcoming a 5.4 point deficit in OH, as well as winning all the other states he has higher chances in. Nominating Scott Walker will require overcoming a 6.0 point deficit in VA. Nominating Ted Cruz will require overcoming an 8.0 point deficit in FL.
It’s time for GOP voters to unite behind the electable candidates. The John McCain’s and Mitt Romney’s of this world are not good enough. I’m sick and tired of losing in November. Let’s unite and do what’s necessary to win.