Bill James Breaks Down How Trump Would Lose General Election: ‘He’ll Run Out Of Morons’
When we truly understand baseball, we understand ourselves. Or so preaches Bill James, father of sabermetrics; author of more than a dozen books on baseball statistics and research; and member of the Time Magazine 100 most influential people in the world (2006).
In a recent post on his site Bill James Online, the statistician guru crunches the numbers on the Donald Trump phenomenon. Because when trying to make sense of Trump's rise in the Republican polls, what we need is not emotional reactionaries, but mathematical fact.
James, on if Trump can become President (via Politico):
"I don’t think that Trump can win, frankly, because I don’t think there are enough morons to elect him. A certain percentage of the American public is just morons; that’s the way it is," James wrote in one section. "When you divide the public in two then divide the voters in one of those halves among five candidates or more, a candidate can win by dominating the moron vote because it only takes about one-seventh of the total population to take the 'lead' under those circumstances."
But in a general election situation, James posited, "when you’re talking about needing 51 percent of the whole population, rather than needing 30 percent of half of the population, you run out of morons. I hope he will."
Judging from this, one might think that James is as virulent an anti-Trump voter as you'd find anywhere. He really isn't. He's actually said that not all of Trump's ideas are bad -- he makes some good points. And he has the "courage" to say things that everyone says he shouldn't say. "We need courage in a President." But overall, James says, he'd be "terrible for the country."
"I hope Trump will lose, because I hope he runs out of morons to vote for him. Again, I stress that I am not trying to tell you what you should think about Donald Trump. I am merely telling you what I think about him," he said. (In his Tuesday night victory speech, Trump noted his support among Americans without college degrees, remarking, "I love the poorly educated.")
Then there was this gem. James, on Trump's popularity.
"Because he is so much better than they are at attracting viewers, the networks have him on, constantly; you can’t get away from the egomaniac son of a bitch. But the networks have done this, oblivious to the consequence. The consequence is that, just as there is an attention effect in Hall of Fame voting, there is an attention effect in political voting. Trump gets a grossly disproportionate share of the attention, and thus a disproportionate share of the idiot vote."
That Trump would have a ceiling is actually a logical notion: there are a finite number of "morons" and "idiots" out there. But the scary thing is that no one has ever counted them. One can only hope that James' math is correct.
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