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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

GOP Rotten Boroughs

David Wasserman writes at FiveThirtyEight about Trump’s “rotten boroughs." where mere handfuls of voters (relatively speaking) are keeping him in the hunt for the 1,237 delegat
Back in November, when we first examined these wacky imbalances in GOP delegate allocation, we found that a primary vote cast in a district that President Obama won in the 2012 general election was worth about twice as much as one cast in a Romney-won district — with the average blue district awarding one convention delegate per about 30,000 Romney voters and the average red district awarding one delegate per nearly 60,000 Romney voters. That’s because — in the 24 states that award delegates by congressional district, rather than only on a statewide basis — each district awards three delegates, regardless of its partisan lean.1 We suspected this would help the GOP’s “establishment” candidates because such candidates have historically thrived in blue areas.
Instead, Trump has bulldozed this assumption about blue districts, through his dominance in the enclaves of working-class white Republican voters who live in majority-minority districts — defined as those where non-Hispanic whites are a minority of residents. Part of Trump’s appeal in these mostly urban areas may be attributable to his brash, big-city persona.
But as National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar and others have pointed out, strained race relations also appear to be playing a role. Areas in racial transition are often flashpoints for racial tension and tend to be ripe for Trump’s oft-stated support for police, implicitly viewed as a rebuke of Black Lives Matter activism. For example, Trump carried all five delegates from the majority-minority district encompassing Ferguson, Missouri.
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Between now and June 7, the last day of voting on the GOP calendar, 54 majority-minority districts will vote, including nine in New York, three in Maryland and 38 in California. The 162 delegates up for grabs in these majority-minority districts are more than a third of what Trump needs to get from his current total of 752 to 1,237.
To cut into Trump’s share of these delegates, Cruz or John Kasich would need to find a way to beat the front-runner in a place like California’s 40th District, which is in southeastern Los Angeles and is 87 percent Latino. It gave Romney just 17 percent of the vote in 2012. That sounds like it should be a simple task, given Trump’s 85 percent unfavorable rating with Latinos nationally. But believe it or not, Trump carried demographically comparable precincts in Arizona by wide margins (few Latino voters participate in Republican primaries).