Thursday, March 24, 2016

Culpably Ignorant Voters

One way to tell just how ignorant most voters are, even voters who are so interested in politics that they participate in the primaries, is to look at how wrongly they judge electability. Trump's electability is horrible, far worse than that of his Republican rivals. He often trails Clinton by a double-digit percentage in the polls, and his unfavorability rating is the worst Gallup has found in nearly a quarter of a century of tracking those numbers. Yet, voters repeatedly say that they think Trump is the most electable of the Republican candidates. Most likely, that's largely because of a simplistic assumption that whoever is leading in the primaries must have the best electability in the general election. What does it tell us about voters when they can go through several months of a highly controversial and highly important primary season without doing even the most basic research on electability? Dan McLaughlin writes:

Respondents in the Bloomberg poll picked Trump over Cruz by a whopping 66-26 margin on the question of “Has the best chance of beating Hillary Clinton?” Even as poll after poll after poll confirms what any moderately sentient observer of American politics knows – that Trump would be a catastrophe in November – ordinary voters seem regularly to be under the impression that other voters like Trump a lot, so he must be a strong general election candidate. Trump is running on electability, while not having it, and not having principles, either. It seems at times as if the voters need to see Trump destroyed by Hillary before they will believe it. It is the job of Cruz, and of everyone who opposes Hillary’s election to the Presidency, to spread the word that this is nonsense, before it’s too late for us to turn back from the brink. A vote for Donald Trump in the primary is a vote for Hillary Clinton.


  1. Based on the polling data nobody beats Hillary head-to-head, do they?

    1. CR,

      Clinton's negatives are high. Trump's are higher. It's not that Clinton is hard to defeat. It wouldn't be hard. Rubio, Kasich, and Cruz, for example, have frequently beaten her in the polls. Some Republicans are still ahead of her in RealClearPolitics' poll average, even though the Republican primary season has been so unusually negative, and that negativity has received so much more media attention than the negativity in the Democratic primaries. If multiple Republican candidates can beat Clinton so often in the polls, even in such a negative primary season in which Trump is making the Republicans look so bad, it would probably be even easier to beat Clinton once the primaries are over and Trump is receiving less attention.

      I'd still only give Cruz a 45% chance of winning against Clinton, but that's far better than Trump's chances. I'd expect Rubio or Kasich to win easily. So would other Republicans, if they were to be the nominee.