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OPINION

Donald Trump Has No Path To General Election Victory

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Alex Brandon

As former President Donald Trump and his diehard supporters continue to jump the shark with baseless and unhinged attacks on the most popular elected Republican in decades, the elephant continues to lay waste to the room, stomping and trumpeting and generally making a nuisance of itself to the extent that it’s impossible to ignore.

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We can talk about records. We can talk about positions on specific issues. We can talk about who makes better hiring decisions. We can talk about a whole host of things that are all quite relevant to picking the next president of the United States, but all of them are moot if one thing is missing - that elephant of all elephants - electability in a general election.

You can say what you want about Trump, and you’d probably be right. Did he get robbed in 2020? Yes. Does he deserve a second term to make up for that? Seems fair. Are Trump’s policy positions, especially on trade, immigration, and foreign policy, the best course for America? Absolutely. Can he do the job effectively? If he learns from his mistakes, especially on hiring decisions, there is no doubt. Was his record mostly good? Until March 2020, two thumbs up. If he is arrested this week on this bogus nonsense, would it be nothing more than a political witch hunt? Obviously.

As I’ve written and said many times before, if I could give Trump a second term with a wave of a magic wand, I would in a heartbeat. Even with his tendency to rile up the left to feral levels, his policies would result in a far better America than the policies of almost any Republican and certainly any Democrat. But sadly, since there is no such thing as a magic wand I can use to wave Trump into office, he and his supporters are stuck with having to do it the old-fashioned way, by actually winning the Electoral College in a national general election.

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And that’s where it gets tricky, because despite smug assurances from the Q’Anon leftovers who form the obnoxious #AlwaysTrump contingent on Twitter, Trump isn’t going to “shock the world” like he did in 2016. How do I know, especially when I was one who wrote back in 2016 that a win was possible? Yes, it’s an entirely different political landscape, but it’s also one in which Trump and his antics have managed to permanently alienate at least half of eligible voters in this country. And it’s not just voters in California and New York, but plenty of key swing states as well, states that will be absolutely necessary for Trump to win the Electoral College.

But don’t take my word for it. Let’s dive in, shall we? Use this presidential election interactive map and do your own math if you wish. It takes 270 electoral votes to win, and Trump or any Republican starts off here with a 125-209 disadvantage with the supposed ‘in-play’ states being Maine (3), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (4), Pennsylvania (19), Ohio (17), Michigan (15), Wisconsin (10), Minnesota (10), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), Arizona (11), Texas (40), Florida (30), Georgia (16), and North Carolina (16).

Of those ‘in-play’ states, Trump or really any GOP candidate could reasonably expect to pick up Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Iowa. That’s 109 electoral votes added to the original 125, for a total of 234. Even if you’re not a math wizard, you know that’s not nearly enough. Where are those 36 remaining electoral votes going to come from?

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On the other side, it’s pretty safe to conclude that Democrats will add Minnesota (10), New Hampshire (4), the remaining portions of Maine (3) and Nebraska (1), and yes, Michigan (15) and Pennsylvania (19) to their total, bringing them up to 261. I know Trump supporters will howl that Michigan and Pennsylvania are in play, but I can assure you that electoral shifts over the past several years sparked by demographic changes as well as Trump’s own antics have rendered those states solid Democratic electoral strongholds. If you don’t believe me, I’ll simply refer you to Exhibit A: re-elected Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Exhibit B: newly-minted Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman. I won’t even cite polling because his supporters would dismiss it anyway, but if you think Trump can take back those states, to paraphrase George Strait, I’ve got some ocean-front property in Arizona to sell you.

Speaking of … With only nine more electoral votes needed, there’s little room for error for Republicans with the remaining states - Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Wisconsin. Nevada seems to have become a true toss-up of late, but, if I’m correct in my predictions so far, which way it goes this time around won’t make a difference. In order to recapture the presidency, Trump or DeSantis must win Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia. Winning two out of three might be an impressive feat, but it won’t result in a victory. Whoever the GOP candidate is must win them ALL. Excluding Nevada, that would be a razor thin 271-267 victory. Razor thin, but enough.

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Now to be fair, I think a win in Wisconsin for Trump is entirely possible. Working-class voters there did manage to reelect Sen. Ron Johnson, after all. However, it’s hard to imagine the state that elected the likes of John McCain and Jeff Flake and rejected Kari Lake and Blake Masters for leftist Democrats is suddenly going to go all-in for Trump. It’s also hard to imagine that path for a state that reelected a popular GOP governor who has been maligned by Trump at every turn and soundly rejected Trump’s Senate pick in favor of the most leftist senator in American history.

So, dear Trump die-hards (I say this in a tone of friendly banter, recognizing that we are allies on the vast majority of issues), what’s YOUR plan for Trump victories in must-wins Arizona and Georgia? How are you gonna get it done? Lay it out in the comments below, but be warned - if your answer even remotely resembles “DeSiMp cAn’T WiN tHeRe EiThEr” or “muh election fraud,” your arguments will be summarily dismissed. 

Whether DeSantis can win is irrelevant to this discussion because the argument is that TRUMP cannot win. It’s an entirely different topic that will be addressed when/if he enters the race, although I do think - for reasons I’ll address in future columns - that the Florida governor has a better shot than anyone else. Additionally, I am all for attempting to fix the election systems in various states, but we must work with what we have. I’m not ready to take the black pill just yet.

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With those caveats in place, give it your best shot!

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