Trump’s demographic problems

So, Pew put up a really, really cool resource.  It compares June polling from 2016 to the June polling from 2012 and 2008 to get a sense of the relative standing of Trump.  Plenty of interesting stuff here, but I find Trump’s relatively poor performance among college-educated whites particularly interesting.


McCain and Romney performed 9 and 5 points better (again, in June polling, not exit polls) than Obama with white college grads.  Trump is in the hole by 12.  Wow.

Alas, Pew does not have Hispanic comparisons for 2008 and 2012 as I’d love to see those.

Speaking of Hispanic voters, though, Nate Cohn brings evidence that they may put Florida out of reach for Trump.  And it’s almost impossible to imagine Trump winning without Florida:

The big demographic threat to the Republican Party isn’t a “blue” Texas or Arizona or Georgia, but the possibility that Florida will follow Nevada and New Mexico to the left. It’s extremely hard for a Republican to win the presidency without Florida’s 29 electoral votes.

The polls suggest that Hillary Clinton might capitalize on huge demographic shifts to an extent that Barack Obama never did. She might even lead by the same margin in Florida that she does nationally — about five percentage points — even though the state has been more Republican than the country in every presidential election since 1976.

To understand why Florida could shift so abruptly, consider this: The demographic changes in Florida over the last decade rival or even exceed those in states like Nevada or Virginia, but the Democrats haven’t gained nearly as much as they have in those states. When Al Gore and George W. Bush fought to an effective tie in the state 16 years ago, 78 percent of registered voters were non-Hispanic whites. When Barack Obama edged Mitt Romney in 2012 by less than a point, just 66.5 percent of registered voters were…

But despite all of these shifts, Florida remained a state that tilted just slightly to the right of the country. That’s because demographic shifts were canceled out by a nearly equal rightward trend among white voters — a trend largely absent in other battleground states. The state’s white voters are far older and more Southern than in the other battlegrounds. The result: Florida barely budged, even as some Northern states with fewer demographic changes moved leftward — states like New Hampshire, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, as well as Colorado.

The Republicans might not be able to keep up with Florida’s demographic shift any longer. The early polls show Mrs. Clinton with a consistent advantage.

Here’s the unsurprising reason: Mr. Trump has alienated Hispanic voters, making the last decade of demographic shifts even more potent. According to The Upshot’s estimates, Mr. Trump is losing among Hispanic voters in Florida by a 30-point margin, up from Mr. Romney’s 22-point deficit in similar estimates of 2012… [emphases mine]

It’s hard to overstate how important it would be if Florida shifted to the left. Mrs. Clinton could lose all the other swing states where she’s airing ads — Ohio, Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire — and still win the presidency if she won Florida and if the rest of the map held to form. She would even be favored to survive a loss in Pennsylvania, perhaps the only big blue state where Mr. Trump has a realistic chance to win. (She would need only two of the other battleground states, like Nevada and Virginia, to compensate.) Without Florida, the Republican path to the presidency gets very rocky.

Wow. Lots of interesting details about Florida I was heretofore unaware of.  And, yes, things can still change, but the more polling evidence that comes in, the more things look good for Hillary (though, it will be interesting to see if the week’s email stuff has an effect in next week’s polls).  Oh, and that new Rasmussen poll that has Trump up two on Clinton?  How realistic is this?


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Trump’s demographic problems

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    I have read that many Puerto Ricans have moved to Florida fairly recently because of the economic problems in P.R. They have settled mostly in the central part of the state unlike many others Latinos who have stayed in South Florida. Central Florida used to be more Republican.

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