One of the biggest reasons Donald Trump is considered to be a long shot to win the presidency is the diversity of the country according to The New York Times.
As Joe Scarborough of MSNBC put it, “There are not enough white voters in America for Donald Trump to win while getting routed among minorities.”
But a growing body of evidence suggests that there is still a path, albeit a narrow one, for Mr. Trump to win without gains among nonwhite voters.
The New York Times further reported:
New analysis by The Upshot shows that millions more white, older working-class voters went to the polls in 2012 than was found by exit polls on Election Day. This raises the prospect that Mr. Trump has a larger pool of potential voters than generally believed.
The wider path may help explain why Mr. Trump is competitive in early general election surveys against Hillary Clinton. And it calls into question the prevailing demographic explanation of recent elections, which held that Barack Obama did very poorly among whites and won only because young and minority voters turned out in record numbers. This story line led Republicans to conclude that they had maximized their support from white voters and needed to reach out to Hispanics to win in 2016.
Those previous conclusions emerged from exit polls released on election night. The new data from the census, voter registration files, polls and the finalized results tells a subtly different story with potential consequences for the 2016 election.
The data implies that Mr. Obama was not as weak among white voters as typically believed. He fared better than his predecessors among white voters outside the South. Demographic shifts weren’t so important: He would have been re-elected even with an electorate as old and white as it was in 2004. Latino voters did not put Mr. Obama over the top, as many argued in the days after Mr. Obama’s re-election. He would have won even if he had done as poorly among Latino voters as John Kerry.
This is all good news for Mr. Trump. There’s more room for him to make gains among white working-class voters than many assumed — enough to win without making gains among nonwhite or college-educated white voters.
But Mr. Trump’s narrow path could close if he loses ground among well-educated voters and alienates even more nonwhite voters than Mitt Romney did four years ago. His ratings among these groups remain poor, and he continues to draw fresh criticism, most recently for saying the judge overseeing a lawsuit against Trump University is biased because of his Mexican heritage.
An Older, Whiter, Less-Educated Electorate
When you hear about the demographic challenges facing the Republican Party, almost all of the data comes from exit polls: surveys conducted with tens of thousands of voters at precincts across the country on Election Day, along with a supplemental telephone survey with early voters.
The exit polls are excellent surveys. But like any survey, they’re imperfect. The problem is that analysts, including me, have treated the exit polls like a precise account of the electorate.
“There are campaigns and journalists who take the exit polls as the word of God about the shape of the electorate and their voting propensities,” said Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida who researches voter turnout. “They’re meant to tell us why people voted. They’re not designed to tell us much about the demographic profile of the electorate.”
The exit polls have a series of subtle biases that depict a younger, better-educated and more diverse electorate. Mr. McDonald tentatively reached this conclusion in 2005, and the pattern has been seen in a broader set of data.
The evidence for a whiter, less-educated and older electorate comes from two main sources.
The first — and longest-standing — source of alternative data is the Current Population Survey, known as the C.P.S. Conducted by the Census Bureau, it is the same monthly survey that yields the unemployment report. After elections, it includes a question about whether people voted.
A second source is the so-called voter file: a compilation of local records on every American who has registered to vote, including address, age and whether the person voted in a given election. The voter file data used for analysis here comes from Catalist, a Democratic data firm that offers an academic subscription. Researchers have found that the data is unbiased and more accurate than public voting records.
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