Five Thirty Eight's Harry Enten breaks the bad news to Trump fans: he just doesn't have the numbers with white voters in order to win in November.
Four years ago, Romney beat President Obama among white voters by 17 percentage points, according to pre-election polls. That was the largest winning margin among white voters for any losing presidential candidate since at least 1948. Of course, even if Trump did just as well as Romney did, it would help him less, given that the 2016 electorate will probably be more diverse that 2012’s. And to win — even if the electorate remained as white as it was four years ago — Trump would need a margin of 22 percentage points or more among white voters.
But Trump isn’t even doing as well as Romney. Trump is winning white voters by just 13 percentage points, according to an average of the last five live-interviewer national surveys.1 He doesn’t reach the magic 22 percentage point margin in a single one of these polls.
So if he's doing worse than Romney, why is Clinton still only predicted to have a modest win? Third party support from Millennials.
Trump’s less-than-overwhelming margins among white voters in the polls listed above are a big reason why all five surveys showed him trailing Hillary Clinton overall. In fact, Trump would be losing by a larger margin, but third-party candidates are getting support from younger and minority voters, so that Clinton is slightly underperforming Obama among these groups. But the magnitude of Clinton’s struggles with young and nonwhite voters isn’t anywhere big enough to cancel out Trump’s relatively poor showing among white voters.
In other words, Clinton winning by four or five points would be something like eight or nine if Johnson and Stein were out of the picture and those voters made a Clinton v. Trump choice in November instead. Not saying that will happen, but that's why this race isn't a blowout.
To be more specific, Trump is trading one type of white voter for another. Even as he piles up support among white men without a college degree, he’s on track for a record poor performance for a Republican among white voters with a degree. And right now, that tradeoff is a net negative for Trump, compared with Romney. If a ton of new white voters without a degree flooded into the electorate, that could change the math for Trump. But such a surge doesn’t look like it’s in the offing.
So yes, at this point you can expect a Clinton win. It's looking more and more likely every day as Trump continues to lose more voters than he gains with his racist rhetoric.