Newspaper article International New York Times

For Clinton, Landslide Is a Long Shot

Newspaper article International New York Times

For Clinton, Landslide Is a Long Shot

Article excerpt

For more than three decades after World War II, lopsided presidential victories occurred regularly in the United States. But not anymore.

Based on evidence from the last three decades, polarization in American politics has eliminated landslide presidential victories.

But could Donald J. Trump trigger one again?

His extraordinary White House bid has raised the question. For Hillary Clinton, now leading solidly in the polls, it looms over strategic choices ranging from her selection of a running mate to how she contrasts herself with the presumptive Republican nominee.

In theory, Mr. Trump's message of change, his iconoclastic background and his stances on issues from taxes to trade create the possibility of appealing broadly across a divided electorate.

In practice, his tempestuous persona, harsh rhetoric and thin preparation have repelled important segments of his own Republican Party as well as Democratic constituencies.

In a Washington Post/ABC News poll last week, nearly one-third of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, and two-thirds of voters over all, characterized Mr. Trump as unqualified.

Mrs. Clinton led by 12 percentage points, larger than any Election Day margin in the past seven presidential contests. In the New York Times polling average, she leads Mr. Trump 45 percent to 39 percent.

For more than three decades after World War II, lopsided presidential victories occurred regularly. In the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower twice reached 55 percent or more of the popular vote.

Lyndon Johnson, in 1964, and Richard Nixon, in 1972, topped 60 percent. Ronald Reagan won in 1984 with 59 percent, matching Mr. Nixon by carrying 49 states while harvesting a record 525 electoral votes.

Election outcomes have narrowed since. Information Age realignment hardened party lines, making Republicans and Democrats more ideologically distinct and reducing the ability of nominees to lure crossover votes. No one since Mr. Reagan has reached 54 percent. No one since George H.W. Bush in 1988 has reached 400 electoral votes.

"Party lines are very rigid," said Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University expert on presidential voting. …

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