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Dear liberals, stop panicking over Trump

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Steve Helber

Six months from now, the American people will head to the polls to elect the next president and after great consideration, I believe the person most likely to emerge victorious will be . . .

. . . Donald Trump.

Wait, who said that?

It's me, your liberal friend on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and LinkedIn, who has been in a fetal position since last Tuesday convinced me that Donald Trump is going to be our next president.

Oh hey, how are you doing?

Not so good. I've spent all week looking at rental properties in the suburbs of Toronto and replacing my Barack Obama pictures with glam shots of Justin Trudeau.


Well, to be honest, I really don't think you have much to worry about. I'm pretty certain that Trump won't be elected president.

How can you be so sure?

Well first of all, I'm confident that the same country that twice elected an African-American president and has given the Democratic Party a majority in the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections is not going to embrace a racist, misogynist demagogue.

I'm not convinced.

OK, there's also the math.

Four years ago, Mitt Romney lost the presidency by 5 million votes. So for a Republican to win in 2016, the party nominee has to find a way to increase the number of GOP voters. The problem for Trump is that he's moving in the opposite direction. Take for example, Hispanic voters. In 2012, Romney lost them 71-27 percent. Trump today has an 81 percent unfavorability rating among Hispanics. Among African-Americans it is 91 percent. Considering that nonwhite voters made up 28 percent of the electorate in 2012 — and could be an even higher percentage this year — that means Trump starts the campaign at a huge, nearly insurmountable disadvantage.


But what about all those angry white voters?

I was getting to that. Back in 2012, Romney won whites by 20 points over Obama. According to the most recent CNN poll, Trump leads Clinton by 9 points among whites. A lot of that has to do with the fact that he's unbelievably unpopular with female voters. One poll from mid-April shows him with a 75 percent unfavorable rating among all women . . . 75 percent! That's insanely high.

Trump might have some appeal among working class white men, but the members of that cohort that like Trump are (a) already Republican and (b) were already going to vote for whomever the Republican Party nominates. It's also important to keep in mind that in 2012, a guy named Barack Hussein Obama won working-class whites in the Midwest. He won them in the Northeast states, where Trump is allegedly quite popular. Democrats do poorly among white working-class voters in the South. In the rest of the country, they are pretty competitive with this group.

So at the outset of the campaign, Trump looks likely to do worse among nonwhite voters, worse among women, and worse among whites than Romney. There aren't too many other places to make up ground when that is your starting point.

That all makes sense, but I remember everyone telling me that Trump couldn't win the Republican nomination, and he did. Why can't he do the same thing in the national election?


Well not everyone said he couldn't win! But the Republican electorate is not like the rest of America. According to the most recent, YouGov/Economist poll, Trump has a 62 percent favorability rating among Republicans.

But among Democrats, he's as popular as a mosquito at a nudist's colony. Trump has a "very unfavorable" rating of 73 percent. Only 9 percent view him "somewhat unfavorably." Among independents, 49 percent have a "very unfavorable'' view; only 11 percent fall into the "somewhat unfavorable" category. So it's not that non-Republican voters don't like Trump — they can't stand him. And they've felt this way about him for the entire campaign.

Even many Republicans don't like Trump. His unfavorable rating is 37 percent, which includes a 21 percent "very unfavorable'' rating. This might be his biggest problem. If a sizable chunk of Republicans stay home or even vote for Clinton — and it could be as little as 15 percent — he's got no shot.

But don't Republicans and Independents dislike Hillary Clinton, too?

They sure do. In fact, according to that YouGov poll, Clinton is as unpopular among independents as Trump is, and only leads him by 3 points overall (though this seems like an outlier, since, in more recent polls, Clinton generally has a larger lead). Clinton is not well liked, but she's also incredibly well known by the public, so it's not as if Trump's attacks are going to change a lot of minds. But the bottom line is that she couldn't be luckier to be facing off against a candidate as broadly loathed as Trump.


Well what about all those Sanders supporters who say they'll never vote for Clinton? Isn't that going to be a problem?

Meh. At the tail end of tough primaries, supporters of losing candidates say lots of mean things about the winners — it's part of the five stages of political grief. Remember the PUMAs from 2008 who said they'd never voted for Obama? Guess what, the vast majority supported Obama in November. There'll be a few Sanders dead-enders, but the vast majority will vote for Clinton, even begrudgingly.

Well what if Clinton were indicted over her e-mail server? Couldn't that be enough to help Trump?

Clinton is not going to be indicted. There's no evidence she broke the law or that she willfully intended to do so, which you'd have to prove to charge her with a crime. But I am pretty confident that even if she were indicted, she'd still win in November. Heck, I think she could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York and still win.

This is all pretty reassuring, but I just can't shake the feeling that there are a lot of Americans out there who find Trump's message appealing. I can feel it in my bones.

It's easy to look at someone like Trump — and his success — and recoil in horror. But I prefer to look at the Trump phenomenon in a glass-half-full manner. The fact is, there's just not a single piece of empirical evidence that suggests Trump is gaining support outside the Republican Party. Democrats hate him; independents hate him; women hate him; Hispanics and blacks really hate him. And they've hated him from the moment he began his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants "rapists." Rather than being shaken by Trump's rise, think about the fact that Americans have made clear in poll after poll that they reject his Muslim ban and his call to deport all illegal immigrants; they are appalled by his crudeness and his misogyny. And even if you like Trump but disagree with some of the harsh things he says, by November I think it will that much harder to compartmentalize his excesses. Republicans might find Trump's message appealing — and that certainly is disturbing — but that's an indictment of the modern GOP, not the American people as a whole. Frankly, I'll bet my chips that there are a heck of a lot more empathetic, nonxenophobic, egalitarian Americans out there than there are Trump supporters.


Well, that does make me feel better.


One question, though. Can I keep the Justin Trudeau pictures?

Sure. He is pretty dreamy.

Michael A. Cohen's column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @speechboy71.