These stats show what would have to happen for Donald Trump to beat Hillary Clinton

Clinton Battles Against Both Trump, Sanders

People who study political polling are all agreed: There is no way that Donald Trump can beat Hillary Clinton and become US president this year. It's simply not going to happen.

And yet ... never say never.

Some people have been passing around this chart of the 1980 election, which shows President Carter polling 29 points ahead of Ronald Reagan at the beginning of the year. He was just a celebrity, not a serious politician, after all:

Of course, as the chart shows, Reagan went on to win, realigning American politics in favour of the Republicans for a generation. (And, it should be said, Gallup's polling was not as sophisticated as it is today.)

The implication is that the same scenario might repeat itself: The media and the pollsters are underestimating Trump's appeal. After he has won the GOP nomination he somehow steadily gains ground by tacking toward the political centre. Clinton puts in an uninspiring performance. And Trump wins by a narrow margin in November, the theory goes.

Click through some of Donald Trumps most controversial Tweets:

Craziest Donald Trump Tweets
See Gallery
These stats show what would have to happen for Donald Trump to beat Hillary Clinton
I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite They picked person who is ruining Germany
I would like to wish everyone, including all haters and losers (of which, sadly, there are many) a truly happy and enjoyable Memorial Day!
Just made the point at #NCGOPcon that "we have to protect our border & I think everyone here knows, nobody can build a wall like Trump!"
My twitter has become so powerful that I can actually make my enemies tell the truth.
China's Communist Party has now publicly praised Obama's reelection. They have never had it so good. Will own America soon.
While Jon Stewart is a joke, not very bright and totally overrated, some losers and haters will miss him & his dumb clown humor. Too bad!
Why is Obama playing basketball today? That is why our country is in trouble!
An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud.
Remember, I said Derek don't sell your Trump World Tower apartment...its been lucky for you. The day after he sold it, he broke his foot.
I never fall for scams. I am the only person who immediately walked out of my ‘Ali G’ interview
.@cher--I don’t wear a “rug”—it’s mine. And I promise not to talk about your massive plastic surgeries that didn’t work.
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
.@katyperry is no bargain but I don't like John Mayer--he dates and tells--be careful Katy (just watch!).
.@BetteMidler talks about my hair but I'm not allowed to talk about her ugly face or body --- so I won't. Is this a double standard?
It's Thursday. How much money did Barack Obama waste today on crony green energy projects?
Truly weird Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain. He was terrible at DEBATE!
Hey @realDonaldTrump - In case you're looking for that tweet you deleted .. I got it right here.
This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice
Everyone knows I am right that Robert Pattinson should dump Kristen Stewart. In a couple of years, he will thank me. Be smart, Robert.
26,000 unreported sexual assults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?
Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure,it's not your fault
How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s “birth certificate” died in plane crash today. All others lived

Currently, the polls show that is not likely to happen. RealClearPolitics has a nice chart showing polls for a Clinton-Trump matchup:

Hillary is comfortably ahead, and always has been. There were two points, in December 2015 and February 2016, at which Trump apparently pulled within striking distance. In the December poll, the pair were separated by less than a point — well inside the margin of error.

Most people are writing off those two polls as outliers. They appear as sudden deviations from the trend, and the following polls showed no diminution of Clinton's lead. The University of Virginia's Center for Politics has a great map of what that looks like in the electoral college — a landslide for Clinton.

Nonetheless, there are several polls in that RCP series where the difference between them is only three or four points. If these two were any other candidates, jumping that gap would look doable for the Republican.

One scenario in which Trump wins was outlined on Quora by Matthew Gagnon, a Republican political strategist from Maine. Now, before you start freaking out, Gagnon makes it clear that he doesn't like Trump and doesn't think Trump can win. But the rest of his analysis is an interesting speculation.

It goes like this: If you're white and don't have a college degree, and you lost your job or saw your wages cut because of the globalisation of free trade, then you're angry at both the Republicans and the Democrats right now. Both parties cheered the free trade deals that gutted the good manufacturing jobs from the North and Midwest of America, and Trump has a staunch anti-NAFTA, anti-China position. Gagnon writes:

The number of these voters who have been depressed, ignored, dismissed, and outright ridiculed is tremendous. And there are a lot of them in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. A lot.

That means that these states -- particularly Pennsylvania and Michigan -- which have been Republican targets for nearly thirty years to no avail, have a very real possibility of flipping.

How real is that "very real possibility"? Perhaps not as real as Gagnon thinks because this demographic will shrink from 36% of the electorate in 2012 to 33% in 2016, according to FiveThirtyEight, the respected polling and stats website. In other words, even if Gagnon's theory is accurate Trump is dependent on a declining portion of the electorate.

Having said that, FiveThirtyEight has a nifty interactive graphic that lets you adjust levels of support among the various demographic groups so that you can plot various election scenarios. It uses the 2012 election, which Obama won with 51.7% of the vote, as its baseline.

If you're a Trump supporter (or if you buy Gagnon's theory), then try sliding the scale for "non-college educated white people" from 62% Republican support in 2012 to 69% today. You get this:

If you believe that under-educated whites are the key to the election then Trump needs an increase of seven points in Republican support among that group. That's a big leap, but not impossible. That result also assumes all the other demographics vote the same way as they did for Obama in 2012 — which isn't likely.

Again, the likely result is that Trump is so offensive to Democrats and moderate Republicans that he drives them to vote for Hillary, or to not vote at all, thus handing Clinton the White House.

But stranger things could happen.


Here's the first thing you see when you are accepted into any Ivy League school
An Ivy League education can be surprisingly cheap
Ivy League colleges offer free tuition to certain students — here's how financial aid packages stack up

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.