What if Romney or McCain were Running in the 2016 GOP Primaries? Mitt Romney unleashed a blistering condemnation of Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner, on Thursday, followed quickly by John McCain’s piling on. They speak from positions as elected Republicans, but also as the previous two Republican Presidential nominees, both of who were defeated in the general election by President Obama. It raises an interesting question: how would their nomination runs stack up in comparison to the 2016 GOP primaries?
So far, 15 states held their GOP nominating contests, with the 16th going today. CHART 1 compares the state-by-state vote totals between 2008, 2012 and 2016. Those comparisons show that the votes cast in each of the 15 states in 2016 exceed the totals from either 2008 or 2012.
When the total votes from all 15 states are compared, as shown in CHART 2, the magnitude of 2016’s turn out is revealed. So far, 3.87 million more votes were cast in 2016 than in 2012, and 3.72 million more than in 2008. So how would Romney or McCain be doing?
CHART 3 compares the winning candidate’s vote totals from each of the first 15 states. The data shows that with the same votes, the winner in 2016 would have won in 2008 and 2012 in 12 of the 15 states.
TABLE 1 shows the raw vote totals, and breaks out the states won by Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008 in blue. South Carolina’s winner (Newt Gingrich) in 2012 beat Donald Trump, the 2016 winner. That means that Romney would have lost all but one state: Vermont.
When McCain’s totals are put to the test, interestingly the same result occurs. He would have been defeated in all but one state, Vermont. A second state, Arkansas, also exceeded the 2016 winner’s total, but in 2008 that state was won by Mike Huckabee.
So what does this data mean?
- First, it indicates that the 2016 GOP turnout is very high. The GOP will need millions more votes in the general election to win than Romney got in 2012. So far, those voters are turning out.
- Second, although there is no way to be sure, it looks like both Romney and McCain would have been soundly defeated if they had run this year. As a result, their moral positions as beaten GOP candidates is far less impactful.
If they are unhappy with Donald Trump’s success so far, they have but themselves to blame. If either had captured the Nation’s support and won, Trump would not likely be on the Nation’s radar screen today!
Data from USElectionAtlas.Org