Morris: Trump can win

Morris: Trump can win
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The new Quinnipiac Poll showing Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that's a job for Congress Obama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as 'an attack on humanity' Schiff rips Conway's 'display of alternative facts' on Russian election interference MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that's a job for Congress Nadler: I don't understand why Mueller didn't charge Donald Trump Jr., others in Trump Tower meeting Kellyanne Conway: Mueller didn't need to use the word 'exoneration' in report MORE essentially tied in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania has sent the chattering class into collective shock. The same Washington insiders who insisted that Trump could never win the GOP presidential nomination may now want to rethink their equally stubborn insistence that he can’t win the general election.

Polls show that, as unpopular as Trump is among women, Clinton is equally disliked by men. It appears that the only white men who are not voting for Trump are Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars DOJ: Dem subpoena for Mueller report is 'premature and unnecessary' Dems reject Barr's offer to view Mueller report with fewer redactions MORE and Jeb Bush. 

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It’s too soon to say whether Trump will win. But it is not too soon to say that he can win.

Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as 'an attack on humanity' Trump hits Romney for Mueller criticism Former Bush assistant: Mueller report makes Obama look 'just plain bad' MORE beat Mitt Romney in 2012 by 5 million votes. Here’s how Trump could close the gap in 2016.

Among white voters, turnout dropped from 67.2 percent in 2004 to 63.1 percent in 2012. Trump has shown in the primaries that he can bring them back. Add to this the rise in the white population, and we can expect about 10 million new whites to vote. Romney carried whites 61 percent to 39 percent. If we assume that Trump can carry whites by the same margin, but with 10 million more of them, he will carry the new voters 6 million to 4 million, cutting the Democratic margin nationally by 2 million votes.

Among young people, dissatisfaction with both Clinton and Trump has reached record levels. In the Democratic primaries, Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersCory Booker has a problem in 2020: Kamala Harris Wage growth shaping up as key 2020 factor for Trump Booker to supporter who wanted him to punch Trump: 'Black guys like us, we don't get away with that' MORE beat Clinton by margins approaching 80-20 among those under 30. Trump also lost the millennial generation by large margins in the GOP primaries. The likely result is that young voters will revert to their traditional pattern of sitting out the coming election. 

Obama carried voters under the age of 30 in 2012 58 percent to 38 percent and generated a high turnout, enough to make them 19 percent of all votes cast. But in 2008, they only cast 18 percent of the vote, and in 2004 they constituted just 17 percent. With Clinton’s inability to stoke much enthusiasm among young voters, it is quite likely that their turnout will drop back to 17 percent of the vote in November. That would indicate a drop in under 30 turnout of 2.5 million voters. Since Obama won them by 20 points in the last cycle, we can subtract 500,000 votes from the anticipated Democratic total.

Likewise, African-American turnout was enormous for Obama. Blacks, who cast only 11 percent of the vote in 2004, cast 13 percent in 2008 and in 2012. This increase of 2.5 million votes, despite no increase in their share of the U.S. population, was astonishing. Since they almost all voted Democratic, if their turnout drops back to its pre-2008 norm, as is likely with a white candidate at the top of the ticket, it would cut another 2.5 million votes from Clinton’s total.

So add it up. Clinton loses 2.5 million black votes and 500,000 young votes and Trump gains 2 million white votes, and you have completely erased Obama’s 2012 margin over Romney.

And this calculation ignores the differences between the candidates. Clinton is in trouble because of her past record and her lies about it. Trump is in jeopardy because of the positions he has taken on key issues and the language he uses to articulate them. Trump can always trim his positions, moderate his rhetoric, smooth his edges and appear more acceptable and presidential. But what is Clinton to do with the facts of her background?

How can the former secretary of State explain Benghazi? Her decision to use a private email server? The massive speaking fees she and her husband received in return for favorable actions by her State Department and the anticipation of more from the White House? The pardons Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that's a job for Congress 20 years after Columbine: What has changed? Impeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent MORE granted to her brother’s undeserving clients? Her parlay of a $1,000 investment into $100,000 on the cattle futures market?

Trump can campaign endlessly on these scandals, making Hillary Clinton hedge, lie, cover up and misstate the facts each day. Meanwhile, her efforts to paint Trump as a Neanderthal will fall in the face of his likely sweet reasonableness as the campaign unfolds.

I’m not saying Trump will win. But he could. 

Morris, who served as adviser to former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and former President Clinton, is the author of 17 books, including his latest, “Power Grab: Obama’s Dangerous Plan for a One Party Nation” and “Here Come the Black Helicopters.” To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to dickmorris.com.