The Battleground Poll and Trump's Path to Victory
The GWU Battleground Poll published on September 9 shows Donald Trump a clear path to victory: win the conservative vote. The data in this poll has been consistent over the last two decades, and the data in the latest poll is no different. The overwhelming majority of Americans are self-identified conservatives.
The September 2016 Battleground Poll shows that 54% of all Americans are self-identified conservatives and only 38% are self-identified liberals, which means that if the tiny "moderate" 3% and the equally tiny "unsure/refused" 4% are excluded, then the conservative candidate would beat the liberal candidate by a landslide of 58.7% of the vote. If the two groups of ideologically unclear voters broke even for the two candidates, then the conservative candidate would win "only" by 57.5% of the vote.
The GWU Battleground Poll looks at the conservative and liberal breakdown of America nationally. Gallup has actually analyzed the conservative and liberal breakdown of individual states, and, as in the Battleground Poll, Gallup has tested this data over and over in many polls over many years. The results are the same.
In the last Gallup Poll that broke down the ideological split of each of the fifty states, conservatives outnumbered liberals in every state except Vermont, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Consider the huge conservative advantage in percentage points in those states identified as key for Trump: Michigan (+11.6), Pennsylvania (+12.3), Arizona (+12.8), Virginia (+13.4), Florida (+14.0), Wisconsin (+14.4), Ohio (+16.3), Iowa (+17.3), North Carolina (+19.5)...and so on.
In other words, both of the polling organizations that have polled the ideological self-identification of Americans for many years concur: if November comes down to a conservative candidate and a liberal candidate, and that distinction is clear in the minds of the voters, then the conservative candidate will win by a landslide the likes of which has not been seen in presidential politics since Reagan's in 1980 and 1984.
Let's think now...was there anything special about Ronald Reagan in presidential politics? Well, he was the last presidential candidate to proudly and openly profess his conservatism. Indeed, right up to Americans voting in those elections, the leftist establishment sneered that Reagan was "too old, too dumb, and too conservative."
Would a conservative appeal work in 2016? Consider that polls consistently show that both major party candidates are personally unpopular, and in the minds of many voters, neither really stands for much (especially Hillary), and Americans desperately want change. If Trump is the clear conservative choice, the only choice that offers change not only from Obama, but from Bush as well, then he could scoop up those undecided voters and moderate voters. In that case, Trump could win over 60% of the vote, a landslide unequaled since FDR beat Landon 80 years ago.
Then consider this fact: Hillary can never, ever call herself "conservative," but she never, ever calls herself "liberal." If Trump boldly called himself the conservative choice in this election, then the best Hillary could do would be to brush him as an "arch-conservative." Then all Trump would have to do is what he has been doing lately: speak directly, avoid hyperbole, and offer concrete proposals. Hillary's refusal to call herself a liberal will also dishearten voters who already find her a dreadful person.
Accepting the mantle of conservatism also would allow Trump, who has not run as a traditional Republican, to tell independent voters (who are overwhelmingly conservative) that he is just as wary of both major political parties as they are, but his values are the same as their values. Hillary, then, would become the establishment candidate of a major political party ideologically out of sync with ordinary Americans. Throw in the fact than no sane person trusts her, and Trump could indeed have the recipe for a landslide.
Does Trump have time for this? Sure he does. Voters are just now really paying attention, and the debates provide the perfect time to hit, again and again, the ideological difference between Hillary, the leftist, and Trump, the conservative. He showed in running for the Republican nomination that he could attract conservative voters. As a candidate seeking conservatives disenchanted with the major parties, Trump could do in the general election what he did in the nomination fight.
Winning this way would also unite the Republican Party behind Trump after the election and insure that Republicans hold both houses of Congress. President Trump could then implement an aggressive program of change, which is, of course, what Americans already know we need. Here, Mr. Trump, is a clear path to victory.