When I saw the recent Associated Press-GfK poll showing seven in ten Republican voters feel Donald J. Trump is the most electable candidate of the Republican primary options, and that the second most electable candidate is Dr. Ben Carson, I almost decided I might have had too much Scotch. I recognise the Republican electorate loathes the so-called "establishment". I get that, and they have plenty of good reasons for feeling that way. I certainly hope, when being polled, Republican voters just drop those two names out of spite, but do not earnestly feel that way. However, it is possible they do mean it, and if so, we need to have an intervention.
I have already expressed my views of Donald J. Trump because so many humans kept asking me of my opinion. I prefer not weighing in on such matters, as it does not directly effect me or my brethren in any way. Nevertheless, I am only here to help, and try to answer popularly asked questions, all while hoping my representatives and I may assist in some modest ways in the enlightenment of humanity. Being a non-American, and being feline, I cannot register to vote in the United States. By definition, this means I am not a Democrat. I am, of course, the Chairman of the Central Committee of One for the Felis-Catus Union Party. I am, therefore, an outside observer. More than that, I am one who cares.
The Electable Republican Candidates
The Republican Party has a few candidates who could effectively compete in a general election. This is a key thing to consider, when thinking of electability: in a general election. A general election is not a primary where only partisans and ideologues vote. A general election, especially of the presidential variety, is open to every registered voter. If you are a sane and fair Republican, surely, when you look toward Trump or Carson, and then consider the vastness, diversity, and complexity of your nation, you cannot see either as having any chance whatsoever. Honestly.
There are electable candidates. For starters, there is former Florida governor Jeb Bush. Why is he electable? The majority of Americans voters already chose his father and his brother. He is a known brand. He is, essentially, Budweiser. Sure, you may prefer Blue Moon, Fat Tire, or some similar special brew, but Budweiser is the King of Beers, in spite of calling it "buttwiper" and being as exciting as water. He is competent, stable, and familiar. In addition, Bush himself has won election twice in a very large and very diverse state. He has shown, unlike Trump and Carson, an ability to win a general election. Lastly, as with his brother before, he has demonstrated an ability to expand his electorate, appealing to a broader range of voters than simply base voters, as a safe choice. He has all the hallmarks of an electable candidate. Not an exciting candidate, certainly, but with the question being who is the most electable, the boring safe bet is a safe bet for a reason. He, therefore, can legitimately be considered one of the most electable candidates of the Republican primary options.
If one seeks a gamble, a good bet would be Marco Rubio, the U.S. senator from Florida. He is young, seemingly reasonable, more fitting as a Vice President straight from central casting, but that alone indicates presidential potential. Rubio is a conservative but not a reactionary, and, like Bush, he has won a general election in a large and diverse state. He has proven an ability to win, and to attract a broad coalition beyond base voters. There is also Ohio governor John Kasich, who likewise has won election in a large and diverse state, and brings with him an enormous amount of legislative and governing experience. These three, Bush, Rubio, and Kasich, should lead any poll of asking who the most electable Republican candidates are if in a general election.
But no. Republican voters are picking Trump and Carson as the answers to that question.
The Republican Party is in a strong position
The Democratic Party has a very shallow bench. They have not performed well in local, state, and congressional elections. As a result, the Republican Party has legions of serving public officials all across the nation. They are in single-party control of everything in fourteen states, such as the governor, the state legislature, and the federal congressional delegation. By comparison, Democrats are in the same position in only five states. The Republican Party controls the entire state legislatures of thirty-one U.S. states, where the Democrats have complete legislative control in eleven states. In short, the Republican Party is dominating electoral politics in the United States, and therefore is producing far more future candidates with electoral and legislative experience than the Democrats. This is largely because Democratic voters typically cluster in and around urban areas, whereas Republicans are spread all over the map.
The Republican Party is in a weak position
The one area where the Democratic Party has an advantage is presidential general elections. Those clustered Democratic voters who have less influence when broken into district elections are voting en mass, nationally, in a general election. The Democratic presidential candidates have won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. They have an Electoral College advantage, with 247 Electoral Votes more-or-less reliably in their column, for just about any generic Democratic candidate. A candidate needs 270 Electoral Votes to win, so the Democrats are starting only 23 short of victory. Florida has 29 Electoral Votes. All the generic Democratic candidate has to do is carry all the states they have won in the past few cycles, and add Florida, and they win. Just one so-called "swing" state (a swing state, also referred to as a "battleground" state, is one that flips from time to time and is not viewed as reliably in one camp or the other). The Republican Party has to run the table on every swing state to have a real shot. The Democratic Party need only one.
Another national problem for the Republican Party is the growth of minority voters, along with more and more women reliably voting Democratic. The Latino vote is growing leaps and bounds. The Democratic voting coalition of liberal white males, single women, and every single minority voting bloc in the nation, is growing, while the reliably Republican voting coalition of, well, white people, of an almost exclusively conservative variety, is getting smaller in comparison. This is the lay of the land. This is reality.
A Republican Victory
The Republican Party is not stupid. They know this reality all too well. The party has conducted its own analysis and fully recognise this can manifest into an insurmountable problem if the party does not attempt to broaden its appeal. That means attracting single women and minority voters. The most attractive and ripe for picking is the Latino voter. If the Republican Party can attract a large enough Latino voting bloc, they can turn the tide on the baked in Democratic advantage in national elections.
Broaden the Appeal
Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich can do this. Donald J. Trump, however, campaigns on rounding up every brown person and figuring out who of them to deport or release, breaking up families in the process, all while building a giant wall between the United States and Mexico. As a Republican voter accepting reality, you cannot look at Donald J. Trump and view him as the most electable candidate as he proactively turns off the most advantageous and accessible route to Republican victory.
Ben Carson is Not Running for President
The candidate seen as the second most electable candidate by Republican voters, Dr. Ben Carson, is not running for president. Carson is running for a post-election career - perhaps as host of a television programme, a well-paid speaker on the lecture circuit, or simply raising his national profile and personal brand as an author. He is, at the time of this writing, not even campaigning for office - he suspended his campaign so he could launch a book tour, promoting his most recent publication. There is literally a rich history of polemics and ideologues happily fleecing the conservative base. Dr. Ben Carson is one of them. He throws around comparisons to Nazism and slavery toward just about every benign event or public policy in the United States, from the Affordable Care Act to abortion. It is all red meat for the base, and they love to hear someone say these things. He has said that homosexuality is a choice. No doubt, many Republican voters agree, but one must live in a tiny bubble if they believe most American voters share that view. He has stated he opposes all abortion, no matter the context, and regardless if it is to preserve the life of the mother. Again, many Republican base voters share that view. Yet the question, who is the most electable candidate in a national, general election during a presidential year. Carson says these things because he might believe them, but he absolutely says them because base voters love hearing it. This helps him be a star, raises his profile, and sells many books. No rational candidate, regardless if genuinely holding such views, would say such wildly unpopular things, or invoke Nazi comparisons on a regular basis, if they sincerely sought victory in a national election in the United States. Dr. Ben Carson is not running for president.
I must reiterate my hope that most Republican voters are throwing the names of Trump and Carson out there out of spite. Surely, I hope, most Republican voters can see the bigger picture. If one were to throw a hat on a stick and run that for president as the Democratic nominee, it would trounce both Trump and Carson in any general election in a presidential year.
Stick (D) 53% Trump (R) 45% Other 2%
Stick (D) 55% Carson (R) 42% Other 3%