I just finished teaching a night class at a local university. The five week course covers United States and Nevada political and constitutional history.
During our first meeting in July, we covered the Constitutional Convention and some basic aspects of the American founding. This time, we discussed the electoral college a bit more than usual. We looked at how it works and why it was put into the Constitution. We also looked at the Electoral College map and how it plays into the 2016 Electoral College.
During that discussion, I mentioned that the Democrats hold an advantage in the Electoral College game. This is partially due to demographic shifts and a variety of political realignments that have taken place on the last 50 years.
In particular, I mentioned, Donald Trump seemed to particularly alienate the very groups that Republicans would need to appeal to (to some degree) for them to repeat the narrow Electoral College victories of George W. Bush. Such demographic groups include suburban women, Hispanics, and middle-class professionals.
One male student emailed me after class. He disagreed with my assessment. He was convinced that the anti-mining, anti-fracking, and anti-coal positions of Hillary Clinton would swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. He was confident that Trump would overwhelm Clinton and win in November.
In many ways, this student was sounding a lot like my liberal friends who were all doom and gloom about Trump winning back in mid-July. Now the numbers never supported either perspective, but they were related.
That was July 12. Jump ahead to our last class on August 9.
This student was downright dejected last night.
In many ways this student fit the Trump mold. He has a very masculine few of world. “Make America Great” appealed to him as a veteran (a fairly high percentage of my students are veterans and their military experience seems to influence each one differently). This student was very concerned about sexual predators using bathroom laws to target his daughter. He is convinced that Hillary Clinton is crooked to the core.
On August 9, this student no longer thinks Trump is going to win. He thinks Trump is an absolute disaster. He thought Trump’s dominance in the Republican primaries was a sign that Trump would perform well in the general election. He hoped Trump’s economics address would be a shift…but it is just more of the same.
He said he might vote for Johnson. Or maybe he will just stay home.
Many of my Republican friends fall in the “Never Trump” camp. This guy caucused for Trump and viewed efforts to block Trump at the Republican Conventions as an insult to regular voters like him.
I saw similar reactions in 2008 when John McCain picked Sarah Palin. However, the McCain collapse was not fully evident until October 2008. It is barely mid-August and Trump is already losing his core constituency. They see the writing on the wall.