The Republicans’ problems in the Presidential race go far deeper than too many candidates or Donald Trump’s disruptive run. The available numbers show us that no Republican candidate simply has the votes necessary to get elected President.
The number two candidate in the Democratic race, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), has around 30.6% of the support in that primary, and the Republican frontrunner, Trump, has around 30.4% of the support in his contest, Philly.com writer Will Bunch pointed out. That might make it sound as if Trump and Sanders are evenly matched until we do a little math and the huge obstacle the GOP faces in the 2016 elections becomes apparent.
A Pew Research Center poll discovered that 32% of Americans identified themselves as Democrats and 23% of Americans identified as Republicans in 2014. Since the U.S. population was 318.9 million in 2014, that means there are around 73.34 million Republicans and 102.048 million Democrats in the United States.
It also means that Bernie Sanders has around 31.22 million supporters and Donald Trump has around 22.29 million supporters. Get the picture, folks? The second-most popular Democrat, Sanders, has nearly 10 million more supporters than the most popular Republican.
That’s particularly bad for the GOP because Bernie is the number two Democratic candidate. The frontrunner, Hillary, has the support of around 56.3% of Democrats, or 57.45 million people, according to Real Clear Politics. Since most of those supporting Sanders can be relied upon to vote for Hillary if she wins the primary, that means the Democrats have an advantage of 30 million votes coming out of the gate.
The Shrinking Republican Party
The numbers show that the Republicans have a huge disadvantage going into the contest and that disadvantage is growing. As recently as 2004, 29% of Americans identified themselves as Republicans and 33% as Democrats, according to Pew.
If those figures are correct, it means that the GOP has lost around 11 million members in the last decade. The U.S. population was around 292.8 million in 2004 and 29% of 292.8 is 84.912 million.
It also means that the Democrats have gained 5.424 million additional voters over the past decade. In 2004, around 33% of Americans, or 96.624 million people, identified as Democrats. When 96.624 million is subtracted from 102.048 million, the result is 5.424 million.
Even though the number of Democrats is statistically smaller, the actual number of Democrats has increased while the number of Republicans has fallen. It looks as if the Republicans have lost a great deal of popular support.
The Numbers Show Us Republicans Cannot Win the White House
It also means that the GOP is not in the position to win a presidential election without substantial independent support, but the Democrats are. All Hillary (or Bernie) has to do to reach the White House is mobilize the base, something that is not that hard.
To win, a Republican would have to achieve genuine popular approval on the level of a Ronald Reagan or a Richard Nixon. That does not seem possible when Democrats have a 30 million vote advantage going out of the gate.
Basically, an unpopular Democrat can run a lackluster campaign and win, which explains Obama in 2012. To win, a Republican would have to be incredibly popular and run a nearly flawless campaign that catches the popular imagination.
Republicans are Doing Something Wrong
These numbers also demonstrate something else – the Republicans are doing something very wrong. The Democrats are still able to hold support of their base. The Republicans are losing theirs, and it could mean that Republican voters are dying off, as some demographers have noted, or that Americans are simply disillusioned with the GOP.
One thing is clear: the Republicans will have to figure what’s going wrong here if they want to see one of their party in the Oval Office again. The GOP has become America’s minority party, even though it controls both houses of Congress. It is also hard to see how the Republicans can keep their Congressional majority if the demographic trends uncovered by Pew continue.
The numbers show us that the Republican Party has some serious problems. Its leaders need to address those problems, and now, if they want to keep winning elections.