When analyzing what went wrong during the 2012 presidential election, when former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney ran against President Barack Obama, it is agreed by most that Governor Romney’s inability to attract, target and ultimately mobilize minorities on his behalf was the biggest failure of his candidacy.
Minorities have become a necessary voting bloc for both parties. Democrats absolutely need them and Republicans need just enough to push them over the finish line. For the Trump campaign, which is perceived as very negative in the eyes of African-Americans and Hispanics, the two largest minority population in the United States, Mr. Trump’s campaign is going to have to change its tone and develop policy positions that both groups find attractive, which can be done from a place of conservatism.
Simply looking back at former President George W. Bush who performed well enough with both groups is a clear indication that it can be done.
Team Trump is also going to have to improve its standing with white women, a voting bloc that Trump has polled poorly with throughout his candidacy. Trump can beat Hillary Clinton and if he’s able to develop a general election strategy which courts blacks, Hispanics, and women — he could very well become the next president of the United States.
The Republican edge with white woman has widened since 2000, which allows Trump a place to build. However, unfortunately for Trump, every strategy he’s implemented to court white men (a shrinking demographic) has had an adverse effect on his ability to attract white women.
By every margin in 2012, Governor Romney outperformed President Obama with white men by more than 27-points, which was the best Republicans had performed with the group since 1988. Yet, despite this stellar performance, President Obama still won reelection by 5 million votes, which showcases the significance of minorities, and as of yet Team Trump has not shown an interest, focus or ability to change trajectory to avoid a repeat of 2012.
Running in a Republican primary requires a different strategy than one most candidates would rollout during a general election and while the primary strategy may provide a base to start from, it should not pigeonhole a candidate and force them to appear to make drastic changes (flip-flopping), nor should it isolate too many of the necessary demographics to win.
For Trump, that is exactly what his strategy thus far has done.