Prospects for a Trump Victory and What it Means For Us

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Question for the mathematically inclined: Given three likely events, each of whose probability is 60% in favor, what is the probability that all three events will occur? (Answer found below)

Donald Trump has a wide delegate lead for the Republican nomination

Donald Trump has a wide delegate lead for the Republican nomination

After Tuesday’s outcome, I now believe a Trump presidency is the most likely scenario.

For those unfamiliar, this week brought so-called “super Tuesday”, the first day large numbers across the country cast ballots for Democratic and Republican presidential election nominees. It now looks highly likely Mr. Trump will win the Republican nomination.

Voting by a wide cross section of America shows his strengths and other candidate’s weaknesses. Barring legerdemain during the nominating convention, Trump has proven himself the heavy favorite.

On the Democratic side, it’s far harder to assess momentum. Only five states were in play. The rest were either in the heavily African-American Southeast known to favor Hillary Clinton or a candidate’s home state. Of those, Clinton won two (Texas and Massachusetts) and  Bernie Sanders won three (Colorado, Oklahoma, and Minnesota). Despite this, I don’t think these numbers are as hopeful for Sanders as they might seem. Sanders started the race a heavy underdog and to have a chance against Clinton, he needs to catch fire right about now. His rise has been steady but hardly overwhelming. Clinton’s favor among the Democratic Party establishment that runs the convention will make an outsider nomination by Sanders a long shot.

Hillary Clinton started the race heavily favored as the Democratic candidate

Hillary Clinton started the race heavily favored as the Democratic candidate

Still, the fact that Sanders is even making this a race has got to be a concern for Clinton. She has run twice, in 2008 and now, and in each case went from heavily favored to struggling against a senator who’d been on few radar screens a year or two before. She didn’t handle it well in 2008, and I see no sign she’s come up with new tricks since. She still seems content to sit on a lead.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Among all the candidates, I think Ms. Clinton would make the most qualified and most experienced president. But as a campaigner she displays glaring weaknesses. Unlike Sanders, voters don’t associate her with a fiery assertion of principles. She’s not a forceful speaker. I admire her but must admit she often comes off scripted and tentative, an unpleasant contrast to Sanders’ unwavering confidence. Also, the only campaign tactics I’ve seen her employ involve protecting her lead and trying not to lose the election. It didn’t work for her in 2008 and its effectiveness is questionable now. Yes, I wish she were as good a campaigner as she would be a president, but I’m compelled to see the realities of the actual campaigns she’s run.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is challenging Clinton for the nomination

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is challenging Clinton for the nomination

Despite this, I still believe she will wrest the nomination from Sanders in the end, even if she needs an army of superdelegates to do it. Once that happens, however, she will be a weak candidate against Trump’s onslaught. I’ve never seen a presidency won by touting administrative skills against an opponent boldly articulating principles. Clinton would enter her contest against Trump a heavy favorite, and unless she breaks tendency in a big way, she will proceed by trying not to lose the election, by hanging onto her lead long enough to be ahead in November. Trump, on the other hand, will advocate bold new ideas, with plenty of time to pivot back to the center. By Election Day, America will have forgotten many of the outrageous statements he made winning over the extreme elements in the Republican party. With nomination in hand, he need no longer court them. They’re not about to stay home Election Day risking the Hillary Clinton they’ve hated for decades becoming their president.

Given Trump’s skill as a campaigner, and Hillary’s weakness against inspirational opponents, I reluctantly must predict a Trump victory. Wishful thinking has him thrown over in a landslide by a country that suddenly becomes sick of demagoguery and fear mongering, but dispassionate analysis forces me to admit such an outcome is less likely.

What would a Trump presidency mean for the LGBT community? Impossible to tell. Trump is more of a political opportunist than any candidate in recent memory. I fully believe him capable of supporting oppressive policies regarding bathroom use and discrimination if he thought it met his political ends. However, he is equally capable of suddenly seizing the standard of LGBT rights if that helped him shore up his popularity. Watching him and listening, I conclude he has no genuine caring about what happens to us, good or bad. True, Clinton also experienced an evolution of her views on same-sex marriage, but I see strong signs that she deeply cares about human rights. Even in the days she supported the Defense of Marriage Act I think it probably made her uncomfortable to have to speak out against marriage rights. Not so with Trump. As he has shown with so many other marginalized groups, he’s willing to be a bully when it suits him.

Do I think a Trump win is likely? No. But it’s the likeliest scenario. And no, those two statements are not inconsistent. Let me explain. A Trump victory requires three events. He wins the nomination, Democrats nominate Hillary (I think Sanders would be much harder to beat for reasons extensive enough to deserve a column of their own), and then Trump beats Hillary in the general election. In my opinion, all three of these are more likely than not.

Here’s where the answer comes in to the question at the front of the article. If three events each have a 60% probability, that means the odds run considerably in the favor of each to occur. Despite that, the probability of all three occurring is still somewhat small. In this problem, 21.6%, or barely one in five! Probabilities combine multiplicatively, yielding a much lower likelihood than any one individual event

In the same way, even though I think each of the three events are are probable, the probability of them all happening to bring about a Trump presidency is still nowhere near 50%.

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About Author

Suzi Chase writes about transgender issues through both fiction and non-fiction. She has had careers in teaching and software engineering and has raised two children.

8 Comments

  1. If the USA votes in Trump – those voters should be classed insane – AUS did it with Abbott – still can’t believe the mentality of those that voted in his favour – he’s on the outer now but he’s replacement is no better in my opinion – just mere eloquent in his speech

  2. I question if map provided here is even close to accurate. California has not voted for Republican candidate since 1988. Also, Texas a blue state?

  3. In my opinion. Unless there is very low voter turnout, including single women and minorities AND trump gets a fairly significant defection of democratic voters (particularly in blue collar areas of Ohio, Michigan or PA, ), then there is no chance of a nominated Trump to beat a nominated Clinton or Sanders.

    So many factors have to align for that to happen. In 2008 and 2012, people were surprised at how the demographics were favoring Obama. There was the admission from the right that they had “lost the country” in that white males no longer controlled the political destiny of the nation. That trend will only continue this time around as more of those said white males have passed on.

  4. I honestly hope Trump does win. He is the only candidate besides Bernie that genuinely cares about the electorate, and Bernie’s economic policies would be horrible if implemented. The middle class has been decimated slowly over the last 20 years. 1/4 of working aged Americans are not working and those that are aren’t making anywhere near what they used to. Globalism policies are what’s causing this, as they have said the benefits of globalism are felt broadly(lower prices) and the consequences felt in a localized area(factory/company layoffs). We are pretty much past the tipping point of where the accumulation of those localized consequences are either now or close to being the majority of people.

  5. I wish your assessment of the probability were correct, and Trump had only a roughly 20-22% chance of winning the general election! However, the problem with the approach you’ve taken is assuming these three probabilities are dependent in such a way that they affect one another multiplicatively. Unfortunately they don’t.

    ONCE trump wins the GOP nomination — which seems highly likely, then that probability is off the table. You don’t get to multiply what happens next by that 60%. Similarly, if Hillary wins the Democratic nomination — less certain, but also probable — then that 60% goes off the table too, and we’re back to purely the odds of whether Hillary can beat Trump in the general election or not. in short the odds of three separate but likely independent events happening are still…likely. And that’s a bit scary. In short, if we believe the outcome is important, and that no matter what, a GOP/Trump presidency will be a really, REALLY bad thing, we can’t sit back on this one. We have to work for it — whether that ultimately means supporting Hillary or Bernie — by getting out to vote, and by doing whatever we can to keep our very real, very legitimate, very human concerns in front of thinking people, right up through November.

  6. Jennifer Alexandria on

    43% of americans are independents, i make up a part of that percentage. i’m not voting for Hillary or Trump. I always tell people Dump Trump! And Drown Hillary!! Vote Johnson!! I want a real change and this time from someone I connect with. Great speaker, pro lgbt, and he is likeable. Neither Democrat or Republican is likeable. Both are equally evil in my eyes there is no lesser of the two. Hillary is a nutjob and Trump is a hot head. Neither have the skills to lead the United States. Gary Johnson doesn’t have any major scandals and actually fixed a bunch of problems financially for the state of New Mexico. People don’t realize they have a 3rd option. And if we could get 4 years of someone who will stand up to the lobby, I think we have a real chance of changing things to where it’s fair for everyone. Dems and GOP suck!

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