Trump is struggling with social conservatives

As another election cycle rolls around, yet again are far too many commentators failing to understand the composition of the electorate.

If you are the nominee for the party on the right side of the spectrum, social conservatives are your bread and butter.  You cannot win without them, and if they are displeased, they will have no reservations about either staying home or voting for the opponent.

Social conservatives cannot, in general, be blackmailed by the threats from right-of-center leaders that policies and individuals who are not socially conservative must be accepted in order to avoid defeat.  The social conservatives also value social conservatism more than they do fiscal conservatism, which is why they are not persuaded to sacrifice these principles in order to partner with libertarians and the LGBT bloc.

Whatever your feelings on the matter, many social conservatives adopt a "my way or the highway" view of social conservatism.  To them, there is no difference between driving off the societal cliff Thelma and Louise-style and gently toppling over it.  Either way, they lose, and so does the civilization around them.  So if the only two choices are a slow and a fast death, the social conservatives often choose not to willingly participate in, never mind go so far as to sanction in no small measure, the civilizational suicide well underway.

Well over half of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters consider themselves social conservatives, making up about one third of the total population.  Just 2% of the overall public is LGBT.  From a practical perspective, the LGBT vote is irrelevant compared to the social conservatives.  If you lose just 10% of the social conservatives, that is more than can be made up by garnering 100% of the LGBT vote.

Want to win elections on the right?  Ignore LGBT issues entirely, and focus on running a campaign, with campaign personnel, that captures as much of the social conservative vote as possible.

Imagine a Trump-Gingrich ticket: two men with six marriages between them.  For all the other positives among the personnel involved, this is a non-starter for many social conservatives.

On to the polling data, which, although flawed across almost all pollsters when it comes to the Democrat vs. Republican composition, is likely fairly solid within the various sub-groups that can give us a handle on how the social conservatives are trending.

We'll start with Reuters's ongoing polling that has Trump picking up only 9% of the LGBT vote, compared to 55% to Clinton.  Less than 10% of the LGBT vote, despite all the outreach Trump made in the aftermath of the Orlando attacks, translates to about 0.2% of the total popular vote potential.  There is no room, nor desire, to maneuver on this front if you are Trump.  Let the miniscule LGBT voting bloc, which is already 90% liberal, go 100% for Clinton, and sacrifice the whopping few tenths of a percent in the popular vote it may cost you.

All power from here forward should, and must, go toward getting as much of the social conservative vote as possible.

According to a Fox News poll conducted June 26-28, Trump is getting only two thirds of the "very conservative" vote in the Trump-Clinton head-to-head, and only 64% when Gary Johnson is included.  Similarly, only two thirds of white evangelicals are voting Trump when the matchup is Trump-Clinton, dropping to 61% in the Trump-Clinton-Johnson race.

A poll by The Economist/YouGov from June 24-27 shows similar results.  In the Trump-Clinton-Johnson three-way, Trump gets just 64% of the "conservative" vote. An ABC News/Washington Post poll on June 20-23 reinforces the consensus.  Trump sits at just 63% among conservatives, down from 74% in May.  Among white evangelicals, his support has declined from 76% in May to 68% in late June.  White Catholics, many of whom resent the moves of their church leadership toward more liberal social policies, are heading out as well, with support for Trump tanking from 64% in May to 48% at present.

It isn't getting better for Trump among likely social conservatives.  It appears to be deteriorating.

Americans simply don't care about gay rights issues.  The most recent poll by The Economist/YouGov conducted July 2-4 shows this with crystal clarity.  Respondents were asked to describe how important 17 separate issues were to them, ranging from the economy to immigration to the environment to the war in Afghanistan, taxes, Medicare, abortion, globalization, and so on.  A full 26% of those surveyed said gay rights were unimportant to them.  Among all 17 issues, the 26% that indicated that gay rights are unimportant is the largest percentage by a country mile.  The next nearest issues with a significant percentage saying unimportant were abortion and gun control, each at just 9%.  Half of all respondents (49%) said gay rights are either somewhat or entirely unimportant, far more than any other issue when it comes to unimportance.  Only 24% said gay rights are very important, which was – by a long shot – the lowest value among all issues.

For each vote gained in the LGBT bloc, ten are lost among social conservatives.  This is hardly a wise political strategy.  The size of the electoral pie is fixed.  Either you climb in bed with the social conservatives and win, or you bed down with the other side and lose.  There is no middle ground.