Today’s electorate is a lot more polarized than 1984’s, and even Donald Trump could probably have run a much worse campaign last year and still had around 150-200 electoral votes sealed into his win column just by belonging to one of the two main political parties, since the vast majority of R’s or D’s today vote the way they do just because of Team Red vs. Team Blue.
So, as a thought experiment, how bad does a presidential candidate have to be, today, to get just 13 electoral votes (Walter Mondale’s tally in 1984) or less?
If either Casey Anthony, Whoopi Goldberg, David Duke, Martin Shkreli or Rosie O’Donnell ran as one of the two party’s nominees in the general election, do they get, say, 75-100 EVs?
What if ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or Kim Jong Un ran today as the Republican or Democratic nominee; does he get 13 electoral votes? (Ignoring the whole “born American” Constitutional thing for now.)
Edit: Running against a “normal, typical, mainstream opponent” - a Kerry, McCain, Romney or Biden type of politician.**
Velocity wrote: “What if Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS himself, or Kim Jong Un ran today as the Republican or Democratic nominee; does he get 13 electoral votes? (Ignoring the whole “born American” Constitutional thing for now.)”
Right now, it would be practically impossible for a candidate to poll so low. The country has a very strong schism politically along geographic lines, which makes it virtually certain that any Democrat is going to win some big states like California and New York, and any Republican is going to pull in a whole lot of smaller states like Kansas, Alabama, Idaho, etc. And since most of the power of candidate selection has been yielded to the people through primaries/caucuses, it’s going to be very rare that a candidate will be chosen by one or the other party who is so out of touch with America in general that they will be rejected by their own party’s voters (see: Mondale, McGovern, Goldwater).
I think it will take some major re-alignment of the various party core groups before we see something in the way of an over-whelming win again. That’s what was going on in 1984, really, as the old Democratic Party got swept away, and the new Democratic Party hadn’t quite figured out what to replace the white Southerner with.
Much like the Blue Wall, I think we’re making assumptions based on what we’ve seen in the last few elections and assuming they will hold true for 2020 as well.
To specifically address 40+ state landslides, all three in the post-war era involved a popular incumbent running against in order, an extremist, another extremist, and a feckless VP who was politically tone deaf. Clinton could very well have won 49 states had Bob Dornan or Pat Buchanan been the nominee, but the Republicans went safe with Bob Dole and he did about as well as you would expect. So you just need a popular incumbent and a really bad challenger, and then you can get a 49-state landslide, even today. I don’t think it will be Donald Trump, but I think we’ll see not just one, but two or more huge landslides like that in our lifetimes.
I don’t discount your evaluation, but I think you have to consider that the challengers in 1964 and 1972 probably cannot be nominated any more. Indeed, I think Bernie Sanders proved how impossible it would be. So, too, in a way, did the Republicans in 2012, when they could have nominated someone very conservative, and avoided that pretty much at all costs.
Which of course leaves us to ponder 1984. As I said, I think that was the result of the Reagan Realignment. Democrats had lost their solid southern base, and didn’t know what to do about that yet. Mondale, as a result, got nominated because he was exactly what you would expect from a Democrat in the post-war era. But the Democracy no longer could win with that type of candidate, and everyone but the Party wonks knew it. If the Republicans’ nomination of Trump ends up re-aligning things again (what are the traditionally Democratic voters of the rust-belt going to do now?), we might see something weird in 2020. Otherwise, 1984 will be the only 1984.
Agreed. On both sides. The 2020 campaign begins in earnest immediately after the results are posted in the 2018 midterms.
So what lessons will each side take away? That insiders are out and iconoclastic demagogues are the path to victory? Or that iconoclastic demagogues are loose cannons in office and the public craves the stability of Organization Man?
It will be exciting if the parties learn opposite lessons. If both go Organization Man we’ll be back to business as usual. A cage match between two iconoclastic demagogues would be a godsend for the media and a total wildcard for the rest of us.
Donald Trump, despite his faults, was not a “bad” candidate. Indeed, as was proven to be the case, he was a damned good candidate, who ran an astute campaign, which won, if not handily, despite some significant handicaps that might have sunk lesser candidates/campaigns (media hostility high on the list).
He may turn out to be a poor President. But to continue to assert that he was an awful candidate is to completely ignore the evidence. People need to stop doing this, and start being realistic about what happened.:smack:
Adaher wrote: “To specifically address 40+ state landslides, all three in the post-war era involved a popular incumbent running against in order, an extremist, another extremist, and a feckless VP who was politically tone deaf. Clinton could very well have won 49 states had Bob Dornan or Pat Buchanan been the nominee, but the Republicans went safe with Bob Dole and he did about as well as you would expect. So you just need a popular incumbent and a really bad challenger, and then you can get a 49-state landslide, even today. I don’t think it will be Donald Trump, but I think we’ll see not just one, but two or more huge landslides like that in our lifetimes.”
Good analysis, Adaher. Wait, did I just say “good analysis, Adaher”?
Although I don’t think Fritz Mondale was “feckless”. I think he had plenty of feck, but it just didn’t matter because Reagan didn’t even bother running against him. he just decided to run against Jimmy Carter again.
Well, that was the first campaign I was aware of, and I remember Mondale promising to raise taxes, and using attacks on Reagan that were used in 1980 and didn’t work then, such as accusing him of wanting to start WWIII. Mondale ran as if the previous four years hadn’t happened, as if Reagan was still a caricature and not the sitting President.
I think that both Hart and Jackson had done a better job of attacking Reagan’s policies as they actually were. Jackson of course would have lost 50 states at that point, but I think Hart might have won many of the solid Democratic states.
But 1972 was the beginning of that realignment, which was interrupted in 1976 by Nixon’s disgrace. It’s not that McGovern was a uniquely terrible candidate, it’s that race and Vietnam had become major issues, making the Democratic alliance of Northern liberals and Southern segregationists untenable. No Democrat was ever going to win in 1972; if a conservative had been nominated, the left wing would have voted third party and Nixon still would have won by a landslide.