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Empirical Damage from Trump’s Remarks

By TJHalva | 1 point | October 9, 2016 at 4:31:36 PM CT 0 Comments

A video was released by the Washington Post, on Friday, containing horrific statements made by Trump [1] that were especially demeaning to women. Any hope of the Republican Party reclaiming the Whitehouse has been completely extinguished. A strong case could be made that there was never any hope to begin with; Trump had never surpassed the 270 Electoral Vote threshold in our national rollup of statewide projections and he won’t.

In 2012, Republican Senate candidates in Indiana and Missouri made their own horrific remarks related to rape and abortion. Both candidates were previously leading in the polls before their remarks; they would both go onto lose by greater than 5%. Donald Trump will suffer a similar result, but nationally.

We’re going to use demographic polling data, specifically pertaining to gender preference and turnout, to assess how many additional states Donald Trump will lose. At this moment in time, our national roll-up allocates 352 (+3 for no data in DC) and 186 for Donald Trump.

For the uninitiated, we collect polling data in great detail including methodology, sub-sample results and mirrored primary sources, but we can’t collect it all due to time constraints. We currently have complete data pertaining to the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary, 2016 Presidential General Election and the 2016 Hypothetical Presidential Election between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. We also have a substantial amount of data from previous elections since 2010 including the 2012 Presidential election. For the purposes of this discussion, the 2012 Indiana and Missouri Senate races conveniently contain full data.

To begin analyzing the depth of each Republican candidate’s demise, let’s look at the 2012 Indiana Senate Race between Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Richard Mourdock. The final debate between the three major candidates was on October 23rd 2012; Mourdock entered the night leading by 1.21% in our polling average. It would be his last lead after these remarks:

Richard Mourdock: This is an issue every candidates faces. I stand for life. I know there are some who disagree and I respect that view. But I believe life begins at conception. The only exception I have to an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is a gift from God. Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something that God intended to happen.

Source: CSPAN Indiana Senate Debate October 23rd, 2012 at 46:19 [2]

In the span of the next 17 days, Mourdock’s support would collapse and he would eventually go onto lose by 5.7% [3]. The central facet of his defeat can be traced to a migration of male support to Donnelly. The table below illustrates the polled preference by gender of voters before the debate, on election day and based on exit polling:

Female PreferenceMarginDonnelly (D)Mourdock (R)Horning (L)
October 23, 2012+10%45%35%3%
Election Day+13.71%49.74%35.99%3%
Exit Polling
(50% of Electorate) [4]

Between the debate and election day, female support stayed roughly the same, Donnelly held a low double digit lead continuously, while his margin among males went from -19% to essentially neutral.

Male PreferenceMarginDonnelly (D)Mourdock (R)Horning (L)
October 23, 2012-19%36%55%4%
Election Day-0.81%45.10%45.91%4%
Exit Polling
(50% of Electorate) [4]

A different pattern evolved in the 2012 Missouri Senate; Clarie McCaskill, the incumbent Democrat faced a Republican challenge from Todd Akin. Akin participated in an interview with KTVI TV on August 19 at which point he led by 5.1%, until he uttered this insane series of words:

Todd Akin: Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.

Source: KTVI TV (Fox: Missouri) August 19, 2012 [5]

Mourdock only gave the electorate 17 days to realize his idiocy; Akin made his remarks 79 days before the election and the electorate noticed. Akin’s support among females moved 26% from a 4% advantage to a 22% deficit:

Female PreferenceMarginMcCaskill (D)Akin (R)Dine (L)
August 19, 2012-4.13%44.79%48.92%2.53%
Election Day+14.80%52.54%37.34%6.73%
Exit Polling
(55% of Electorate) [6]

Akin’s male support followed a similar pattern, but the net change was just 14%.

Male PreferenceMarginMcCaskill (D)Akin (R)Dine (L)
August 19, 2012-6.11%42.80%49.69%6.67%
Election Day+2.10%46.86%44.76%6.75%
Exit Polling
(45% of Electorate) [6]

Akin would go onto lose by 15.5% [3], and unlike in Indiana, Akin’s support hemorrhaged among both genders. The polling implied margin on Election Day in Missouri was also about 6% less than the empirical results provided by exit polling; no such gap existed in Indiana which is unexplained but perhaps not relevant.

We should also note that Missouri had roughly twice as many polls as Indiana.

Another area of interest in both 2012 senate elections is the increase in 3rd party support after the offensive remarks. Both races featured a Libertarian candidate that received roughly 6% of the final vote in their respective states. Each 3rd party candidate’s support roughly doubled, from 3% to 6%, among females after the Republican candidate’s point of idiocy. This seems to imply the existence of partisan Republican female voters that found the remarks to be unacceptable, but were ideologically unable to vote for the Democratic candidate.

The data from 2012 pretty clearly establishes that when a candidate says things that are offensive, their support is severely depressed. In Indiana, there was a 7% movement away from the candidate that opened their mouth, and in Missouri the swing was 20.6%(!).

There is really no precedent for anything as disruptive as Trump’s remarks, but if we project the outcomes from the two senate elections in 2012, to 2016, here are the two empirical possibilities:

  1. If Trump were to lose 7% support in every state, which is in line with Mourdock’s swing, the following states would flip to Clinton: Alaska, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, South Carolina
  2. If Trump were to lose 20.6%(!) support in every state, which is in-line with Akin’s swing, Trump would only win the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Nebraska (not CD-2), West Virginia, Wyoming.

There are some other variants we could look at with regard to female migration to 3rd party candidates; in the 2012 senate races this resulted in a doubling of support, from 3% to 6% among the libertarian candidate. Gary Johnson is currently projected to receive 6.16% of the national popular vote based on naive, state vote extrapolations. To appear in the 3rd debate, a support threshold of 15% is required among some recent selection of national polls. Johnson would still not surpass that threshold if his support were to double, but national polling is much more volatile and reactive to national stories so our naive state level extrapolation isn’t necessarily representative of future, national polling.

Secondly, the threshold for public campaign funding of a national party is 5% of the national popular vote in a presidential election. Trump’s remarks seem to virtually ensure the Libertarian Party will meet this threshold. Public funding would provide $96 million in general election funds and access to up to $25 million in primary campaign matching funding [7]. The concept of public funding is generally considered to be antithetical to the Libertarian ideology, but the party has indicated an inclination to take it in an effort to quell the dominance of the two major parties.

In summary, Trump has lost, Clinton will win big, and the Libertarian Party will become a federally recognized major party.


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TAGS: pres2016, indiana, missouri

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