Opinion

Clinton’s Chances Of Flipping A Red State Have All But Vanished

Stewart Lawrence Stewart J. Lawrence is a Washington, D.C.-based public policy analyst who writes frequently on immigration and Latino affairs. He is also founder and managing director of Puentes & Associates, Inc., a bilingual survey research and communications firm.

What’s the biggest sign that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 candidacy is in danger?  It’s not the narrowness of the race in traditional battleground states like Ohio and Florida where the contests are usually decided by just a point or two.  Nor is it possibility that Trump might carry Pennsylvania, a state where Mitt Romney failed to campaign and still only lost by just five points.

No, the real sign of trouble for Clinton is her utter failure to “redraw the electoral map” in diehard Red states like Georgia, Utah, Arizona and Texas.  Her campaign has bragged for months about the prospects of an electoral landslide, supposedly due to her ability to win over Republican voters and independents in states that have voted reliably GOP for years – five decades in the case of Utah, and four in the case of Georgia.

But those prospects have disappeared faster than the former First Lady’s 33,000 emails.

Take Utah, which last voted Democratic in 1964.  Clinton was pinning her hopes on the independent third-party candidate Evan McMullin.   As recently as three weeks ago, the pro-Clinton press was touting his chances of drawing enough votes away from Trump to deliver the state to former First Lady.  Clinton even added significant staff to the state, which Romney carried 3-1 in 2012.   But the three-way split in earlier polling has disappeared as Republican voters – many of them formerly committed to Ted Cruz, and leaning toward McMullin — have come “home” to the GOP standard-bearer, giving Trump a commanding lead.

Georgia was supposedly another hot Clinton prospect, owing to rapid demographic changes in recent years. More than 80% of the state’s population growth over the past decade was due to African-Americans, who typically vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

But not so overwhelmingly in 2016, it seems.  Clinton is struggling with African-Americans everywhere, from Michigan to the Deep South.  Liberals apologists claim it’s simply due to Obama not being on the ticket, but in fact, past White male Democratic candidates have regularly performed just as well as Obama did.  The difference this cycle: Black defection to Trump – and to third party candidates — that media analysts are failing to report.

In some states, Trump may well win 15% or more of the Black vote.  It won’t be as high in Georgia, but the combined impact of lower turnout and reduced support – combined with massive White backing for Trump — has pushed the Peach State out of reach.

A much better case for a Clinton “flip” would be Arizona, the one Southwestern state that’s been reliably Red since 1996.  Clinton enjoyed a slight lead in the Real Clear Politics polling average as recently as October 26.  But in the space of a week there’s been a pendulum shift, with Trump gaining a 4-5 point edge in each of the last five surveys.  Even a highly touted visit by Michelle Obama to the state had virtually no impact on the polling.  Barring a massive pro-Clinton Latino turnout – unlikely here compared to say, Nevada, where Hispanics tilt more strongly Democratic — there’s virtually no chance that Clinton will prevail in Arizona.

And what of Texas?  Politico recently led a story on the race in the Lone Star State as follows: ”Texas Republicans are slowly coming to grips with the unthinkable: Hillary Clinton has a shot at winning the nation’s most iconic red state.”  Perhaps it looked that way at the time; in fact, some polls did show Clinton closing to within three points of Trump.

But here, too, there’s been a sea-change, with two recent polls showing Trump with a comfortable double-digit lead and the Real Clear Politics average ballooning to 11 points.

Each of these states does have one similar dynamic:  a consolidation of GOP support behind Trump.  Republican voters that flirted with other candidates or with Clinton apparently recognized the folly of their ways as the real-world consequences of a prospective GOP defeat sunk in.  Trump also helped himself mightily by focusing squarely on the issues, and leaving it to Clinton to persist in ugly name-calling as a steady stream of Wiki leaks revelations have continued to embarrass her candidacy.

In fact, Clinton’s failure to “close the deal with women may be the single most important reason for her failure in the Red states.  In Texas, Trump has a whopping 19-point lead among men but also a sizable 10-point lead among women, according to the latest Emerson poll.  The same dynamic is apparent in Utah.  In other states, Trump trails among women, but not among White women, and his advantage among men gives him a decided “gender gap” advantage overall.

These are not small states.  Arizona has 11 electoral votes, and Georgia 16.  Texas is a blockbuster, with 38, while Utah has just 6.  That’s 71, more than a quarter of the total needed to win.   Texas was probably never seriously in play, but a victory in any of the other three states might have greatly complicated Trump’s own chances of winning next Tuesday.

Not anymore.