Chris Cillizza makes a good point on the Electoral College when he points out that it was a major challenge for the Republicans way before they chose Donald Trump as their nominee. In fact, I don’t think the reporting on this has been very good, in general.
There’s often acknowledgement that the RNC did a post-election autopsy in 2012 to determine what they need to do differently, and people write about the fact that the party ignored its own advice with extreme prejudice by becoming more hostile to Latinos and more alienating to young voters. But, what’s not often noted is that there are actual states that the Republicans need to flip into their column to win a presidential election.
Those states are identifiable. We’re talking about minimally winning the states that Bush won, including most importantly Ohio, Florida and Virgina. But to get any margin of error, they need to flip Wisconsin or Pennsylvania or maybe even Michigan.
The party has in no way been focused on this task over the last four years.
Now, Trump probably has some potential to get votes in the Rust Belt that weren’t available to Romney, but that has nothing to do with the party’s strategy for winning this election. They have not spent one moment trying to prepare the ground in the states they need to win.
Rather, they’ve been pushing swing states like Florida, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Nevada into safe or nearly safe Democratic territory.
For some of us who have had one eye on the Electoral College every day for the entirety of Obama’s second term, the Republicans’ behavior has been so detached from the task at hand that this coming election has never seemed much in doubt. It’s like they wanted to hand it to the Democrats on a platter.
By nominating Trump, they’ve at least shuffled the board a little bit. Most likely, they’ve made it worse by putting Georgia and Arizona into the swing state category without doing enough to actually flip any states to them. But this is still better in my opinion, because even a bad longshot bet is a better gamble that a surefire loser.
Either way, though, they have not solved their Electoral College problem.