The 2016 presidential primaries are well underway, and at the rate delegates are being awarded on the Republican side, businessman Donald Trump is leaps and bounds ahead of the other candidates in the race for the party’s nomination.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has long been seen by many party establishment members as the inevitable Democratic nominee and president-elect, but record turnout for the competing party serves as a contrast with their fairly dismal engagement so far.
The disproportionate political involvement between the two main political parties’ voters at this point in the primary race may be a sign of things to come in November.
Trump has created a reputation for the immense conglomeration of insidious remarks he has directed to his fellow presidential candidates, journalists, news organizations and nations, as The New York Times lists out in “The 199 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List.”
Horrifyingly enough, the rhetoric spewing from Trump doesn’t seem to impede the current voter turnout for the Republican primaries, which for the most part have come out to support Trump.
Late last year, The Huffington Post even started adding an editor’s note on all articles regarding Trump, describing him as “a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims,” as shown in the Huffington Post article “Donald Trump tells Bill O’Reilly it’s an ‘eye for an eye’ in war with Fox News.”
According to RealClearPolitics.com, Trump’s campaign has held onto a substantially negative favorability rating among American voters ever since it started. Despite these ratings, however, Trump has consistently been ahead of the rest of the Republican field by double digits for as long as he’s actually been a politician: eight months.
Trump has not only exceeded previous expectations, but he has left the rest of the field’s delegation in shambles.
Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have been meandering around in the low and mid-double digits since the New Hampshire caucuses on Feb. 9. Governor John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson have been scrambling to grab a handful of what’s left, according to the polls from RealClearPolitics.
Unless the rest of the GOP candidates suddenly change course and actually attack Trump, I believe their infighting will only sacrifice the delegates they could potentially secure in future contests to the runaway real estate mogul.
Meanwhile, the two-person race in the Democratic race between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders has brought out both a clear generational divide and perceived enthusiasm gap.
The Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada contests have revealed the same glaring problem that plagued Clinton before in 2008. Young voters have once again escaped her grasp due to the authenticity and idealistic optimism her rival candidate campaigns on in front of crowds that frequently reach sizes in the tens of thousands.
Winning the younger electorate in one landslide after another, Sanders has garnered over 80 percent of the vote from 17- to 29-year-olds who participated in the Democratic primaries so far, according to NBC News’ article “Iowa Caucus 2016: Election Results.”
This same trend applies to the next age range: Over 60 percent of 30- to 44-year-old voters in the first three states supported Sanders.
In total, these two age ranges average out to 38 percent of the total Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada electorate that participated in the Democratic contests. I doubt that the voters’ enthusiasm will return to support the Democratic nominee in November if it isn’t Sanders.
Then again, so what if younger voters don’t come out in droves for the general election? They’re historically the most unreliable segment of the voting population, and Clinton has been able to succeed without them so far.
Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have all shattered the previous voting records, according to the NPR article “New Hampshire turnout breaks records, but not on democratic side.”
The downside? The records being broken are on the Republican side.
The Democratic primaries are failing to meet the attendance records that were established in 2008, mostly led by then Sen. Barack Obama.
Political opinions and matchup polls aside, if current voter turnout for the primaries is any indication of how many people will show up to vote in the general election, I believe that Trump may not have any difficulty getting into the White House.
Clinton has no guarantee of winning over the young voters who overwhelmingly surround Sanders and whether or not they will give up if he fails to reach the 2,383 delegates needed to be the party’s candidate in November before she does.
Clinton is far from being an invulnerable politician at the national level, according to the Huffington Post article “Is Donald Trump Headed to the White House After New Hampshire Primary Victory?”
“Her defeat to Barack Obama in 2008 — then a newcomer to national politics — is a reminder that Hillary Clinton is not universally admired even within her own party,” the Huffington Post article said.
Trump doesn’t need to worry about voter turnout; he does well in all sorts of states, regardless of how many people actually participate.
As Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report said on Meet the Press last Sunday, “It’s not just that he’s got this one lane, oh, he only wins when there’s low turnout, he only wins when conservatives, he only wins in these kinds of states.”
This strong ability to win practically anywhere presents a very pressing danger for not just the establishment Republicans who are desperately begging their bombastic frontrunner to stop wrecking their party more than it already has been, but to the Democrats down the road as well.
In the end, there’s no way to predict what will
happen before we get to Election Day, something that the 2016 race continually reminds us over and
over. If the stadiums that Sanders and Trump consistently fill for rallies are any
indicator of what will happen in the future, however, I believe that the best possible option there is to beat Trump isn’t with Clinton, it’s with Sanders.