Over on HuffPo, that bastion of We Refuse to Pay Our Writers Because Something Something Ethics, some dude has decided this year’s POTUS election, already a spectacular mess, is going to get even messier because Mitt’s going to come back like a bad casserole and spoil the whole thing for both Hillary and Trump. How this will work, he argues, is that Mitt will steal independents from Hillary, denying her the 270 electoral votes that qualify as a win, and thus kicking the election over to Congress, where Speaker Paul Ryan will supposedly swoop in like Dudebro Superman and make everything right again.
While this scenario is of course possible, as is the ghost of Eisenhower appearing at the GOP convention and raining ectoplasm and stern glares on everyone there, it’s incredibly unlikely, and here’s why:
- Running Mitt again would be a defacto admission that the GOP in its current state has been bombed into its component molecules by the Tea Party and their modern Messiah, Beavis Hitler. While yes, that IS the current state of that party, I don’t think they’re willing to admit that just yet.
- Sure, Mitt might take some votes from Hillary just because some people, for reasons of Not Paying Attention, think she’s evil incarnate or just deeply uncool. But will he take enough to deny her that 270? No.
- Hillary is billing herself as Obama’s natural successor, and in many ways, she is exactly that: An economic and foreign-policy centrist with a fair amount of well-established progressive social-policy cred. Undoubtedly, some people, particularly the wannabe anarchists in the Bernie or Bust crowd, will vote against her or sit things out no matter who else is running, so she’ll maybe lose some people who once supported Obama. However, she’s going to gain some people, too.
- Obama won over Mitt in 2012 with 332 electoral votes. Even without counting the continuing demographic shift of the past four years–old white folks are an ever-shrinking percentage of the population, and young voters are pretty darned politically engaged–it’s preposterous to think that Hillary could lose more than a state or two off of that total. People of Color and queer folks already know how awful both Mitt and Trump would be for them. They’re not going to vote for either one of those guys under any circumstances. Those votes are already sewn up, no matter what.
- And guess who else is going to vote for her? White women. Romney won them in 2012, but in the 2008 Dem primaries, they broke for Hillary over Obama as much as 2-1 in some cases. Obviously that tally doesn’t count Republican and Independent white women, but chances are pretty good Hillary’s going to pick up quite a few more of them than Obama did four years ago.
- To recap, this means Hillary will get virtually every queer and PoC voter, and will probably break about even, or at least improve on the 2012 results, with cishet white women. It’s also even possible she’ll pick up some working-class white men, given her strength with unions and veterans.
- Who, therefore, will be left to vote for Trump OR Romney? That’s right, the same people who would be voting for a single right-wing candidate anyway: Jerkass cishet white dudes and their racist wives and girlfriends. They will split that vote–the slightly-less-racist crowd going for Mitt–and end up handing Hillary even more states than she’d have gotten otherwise.
While they’re still annoyingly in control of big chunks of Congress (thanks mostly to gerrymandering), demographically, it’s more or less impossible for the asshat-white-folks voting bloc to win any POTUS election from now on, unless voter-suppression and ballot-tampering efforts pay off. Though they’re being replenished somewhat on the younger side by baby Randians, G*mergaters and a handful of young women who don’t yet realize the Libertarian party wants to outlaw abortion, by and large, the TP demographic skews very old. Baby Boomers have always been a big voting bloc since they came of age, but they’re now starting to die off and are being supplanted by Millennials, the second-largest voting generation. TPers also, of course, skew very white, and that percentage of the population continues to shrink, losing more than five percentage points between the 2000 and 2010 Census, to now sit at about 63%. Assuming at least 10% of that number is queer or loves someone who is, and at least a third of it is liberal-leaning cishet women, that means only 35-40% of the population is left to vote for the racist, sexist shitwits who now run the GOP. That’s simply not enough to win elections unless everyone else simply doesn’t show up. There’s a reason racists are terrified right now, enough to back Trump’s horrific immigration ideas. They know they’re nearly outnumbered, and they’re looking to regain their unearned dominance by any means necessary.
Bottom line: Running Mitt isn’t going to change the overall demographics of the voting population, and Hillary isn’t hated enough by people who would otherwise vote D to lose enough states to go below 270. The only way that would happen is if she was challenged from the left, not the right, and I honestly can’t see Bernie doing that, even if some of his supporters would want him to. November’s vote will undoubtedly be closer than any of us non-awful people would want, and I admit to being downright petrified by the thought of what these gun-humping racists are going to do when their dude loses, but unless there’s enough underhandedness with the vote count to cause the UN to step in and clean things up, a Mitt candidacy–or even a brokered convention leading to Trump going indie–is not going to change who will be inaugurated next January.