A lot of people keep saying “Trump won’t get the Republican nomination” and a lot of Trump supporters respond by pointing to the various national polls, which as of this post range somewhere between 27-41% nationally. Trump supporters seem to be everywhere, and loud about it, so I hope to clarify the dichotomy.
Who are the subjects of the polls? Likely voters? In some cases, it’s registered voters, which produces the least reliable election data ever. I heard a couple of folks on talk radio discuss independent voters. Great, but these people don’t vote in Republican primaries. Republican primary voters vote in Republican primaries, they only vote for actual Republicans, and only a very select few do so dependably. Oh yes, I know YOU’RE going to vote THIS time because you’re so riled up for the Donald and so forth, but you won’t. You especially won’t if it’s raining, or if your primary polling place isn’t where you normally vote for the general election, or if you have to work and can’t make it.
How do I know this? Because I know who votes in Republican primaries. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some numbers.
I live in Harris County Texas, which is considered by many experts to be the home of the largest, most powerful county Republican party in the nation. The turnout numbers for the past 3 Presidential years in Harris County, Texas look like this.
There were 1,901,722 registered voters in Harris County.
Of that 1.9 million people, 161,250 people voted for President in the Republican Primary.
That makes voter turnout approximately 8.5%
There were 1,809,742 registered voters in Harris County.
Of that 1.8 million people, 169,448 people voted for President in the Republican Primary.
That makes voter turnout approximately 9.4%
There were 3,618,814 registered voters in Harris County.
Of that 3.6 million people, 78,898 people voted for President in the Republican Primary.
That makes voter turnout approximately 2.2%
As an aside, the vast decrease in registered voters between 2004 and 2008 was a part of mass purging by the voter registrar of dead people, people who moved, and those otherwise ineligible to vote in Harris County.
I pull the past 3 Presidential primary years, because Presidential primary years are higher turn out years than non-Presidential primary years. Now, in the world of all primary voters, there are those unicorns who, in the business of people who look at this stuff professionally, are referred to as “3Rs”. A “3R” is simply a person who has voted in the last 3 Republican primaries. These are the most highly targeted voters by Republican candidates because they’re considered to be the staunch loyalists who will absolutely show up and vote. I call them unicorns because look at that low number, that 2.2%. That’s a fairly good estimate of who your 3Rs are. “So, OK,” you’re going to say, “but look at those 1.8M people in 2004 who weren’t even eligible to vote.” Fine, let’s take that 2008 registered voter number, which is going to give you the highest percentage, and the 2004 turnout and estimate that 4.4% of the voting population is a 3R.
OK, now who is this 4% really? Generally, they’re people who may be active in the Party, they research and/or know some of the candidates, most vote all the way down the ballot (yes even for those Judge positions), and/or all of them follow politics and issues year round, not just a few weeks before the elections when the commercials start running. A lot of them receive Christmas cards from candidates’ and/or office holders’ offices. They’re not necessarily big donors, but they’re doing something, even if it’s reading or listening to the news every day, and most are just doing it quietly. A 3R probably won’t correct the bad facts you got from that whatever talking point, because you’re not worth the energy. But, most importantly, they’re showing up every election, rain or shine, and you aren’t.
3Rs generally do their homework. Most know that Donald Trump ran for office at the behest of Bill Clinton, and he's not really a Republican. They know that he donated money to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, because he’s friends with them and that whole New York Yankee liberal set. They know that his vast wealth results from the highly regulated and dysfunctional New York crony real estate market. 3Rs know Trump’s a big believer in Kelo
because he’s used it like a club. 3Rs know what Kelo
is. 3Rs know that Donald Trump bankrupted a casino, which is basically its own cash printing factory. They know he’s been pushed out of most of the businesses he’s ever run by his shareholders on the condition that the businesses maintain his name so as not damage his reputation and to prevent him from suing. The man is litigious as hell. 3Rs know Trump is a brand; Trump is Nike, Coca-Cola, or Snickers. 3Rs don’t vote Snickers. And you can look up the rest of those facts your own lazy, non voting self.
3Rs are still watching Rubio, Cruz, Paul, and even Bush, although many recognize “Bush fatigue”. Many find Carson and Fiorina interesting, but most know how the process works against even the strongest and most talented. Many 3R are leaning toward a candidate, but are as of yet undecided.
I know a lot of 3Rs, and even though I don’t always vote Republican in the general election, I am a 3R. Hell, I think I’m about a 13R at this point. Back in the old days when I was a Precinct Chair there was one dude in my precinct who had voted in more Republican primaries than I had. The guy was in his 80’s and had only voted in one more primary than I had.
I vote in Republican primaries, even as a now independent, because primaries are where the elections are really decided in a lot of cases. 96% of you won’t vote in them; I will.
TL: DR? The polls aren’t accurate. The loudest talkers aren’t the frequent voters; look at Ron Paul’s past election results. That guy is the President of the Internet. Everyone thought the Mayor of 9/11 (a.k.a. Rudy Giuliani) was going to win the nomination in 2008. How'd that go?
If someone wanted to conduct an accurate poll, the questions would look something like this:
Of the last 4 Republican primaries, in how many have you voted?
If the election were held tomorrow, for whom would you vote?
Then unbeknownst to the respondents, any answer lower than 2 to the first question would disqualify them from being counted in the second question. You want to know who is the most likely to win the Republican nomination? Who will capture the 4%? Well, there you go.