If Donald Trump suffers a landslide loss to Joe Biden in 2020, it is highly likely he would nonetheless receive at least 40% of the vote.
The perception that a widespread rejection of Trump would mean support substantially lower than that is a myth.
Modern landslides in America show that presidential candidates who get destroyed electorally still enjoy relatively widespread popular support.
In 1984, Ronald Reagan won a lopsided 525 electoral votes. Reagan won every state except Washington, D.C. and Minnesota. And yet, his opponent Walter Mondale received 40.6% of the vote.
The 1964 election is often cited as a pivotal electoral moment in American history, but while Lyndon Johnson absolutely destroyed Barry Goldwater 486-52 in the electoral college, Goldwater received 38.5% of the vote.
And despite Trump’s sustained unpopularity and his standing behind Joe Biden in the polls, he is likely to put on a much stronger performance than Goldwater and Mondale.
Even if you go back to the completely lopsided election of 1936, where Franklin Roosevelt beat Alf Landon 523-8 in the electoral college and cruised to an easy reelection during the Great Depression, Landon still managed to pull in 36.5%.
Recent elections also point toward something resembling a 40% “floor” for the loser.
Mitt Romney got 47.2% in 2012. John McCain got 45.7% in 2008. In 2004, John Kerry received 48.3% of the votes in his loss to George W. Bush.
A landslide can happen. But a realistic look at history shows that even in utterly decisive contests, losers have the backing of millions of Americans.
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