It’s no secret that Donald Trump has a hard time with numbers. In June he embarrassed himself by tweeting out a “thank you” to voters… citing a poll showing him losing to Hillary Clinton.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 17, 2016
Then he did it again three months later.
'It's just a 2-point race, Clinton 38%, Trump 36%' https://t.co/EzDzJ4EzIN
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2016
So it’s no wonder then that his grasp of basic math couldn’t handle the complicated task of counting up his supporters and dividing by two. The consequence was yet another self-own by The Donald.
Hillary caused outrage on the right by remarking that “you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.” Adding that this group is “sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.”
The statement itself isn’t very controversial. Trump’s been endorsed by leaders of the KKK and various neo-Nazi groups. White supremacists call him their “last hope.” His fans have been arrested for assaulting Hispanics. 60 percent of them believe President Obama is a Muslim. Many are still birthers – quite possibly including Donald Trump himself. 20 percent believe freeing the slaves was a mistake. Whether you put them in a basket or not, they are – without a doubt – deplorable human beings.
But Trump knew he could use this moment to foment anger in his base. The group that routinely shouts “Trump that bitch” about Clinton at rallies had their feelings hurt by her and Trump was there to capitalize. So he tried to use a comment Obama had made about Mitt Romney in 2012 during his infamous “47 percent” remarks against Clinton. He retweeted:
RT if you agree: We need a President who is fighting for all Americans, not one who writes off nearly half the country.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 18, 2012
There are a few things wrong with this. First of all, at the time Trump famously told Mitt Romney to never apologize for his “47 percent” remarks. He thought he should stand by the offensive remark or risk looking like a coward. Now Trump looks like a hypocrite.
But more importantly, the comment isn’t remotely similar because Trump got the math completely wrong. Clinton wasn’t talking about half the country – she was talking about a very small segment of its worst people. As much as Trump would like to believe 50 percent of the country supports him, the actual number is much smaller. As Daily Kos contributor Daniel Nichanian noted, Trump’s support is more like 30 percent of Americans and of those, Clinton said “half” were bigoted assholes.
to be fair, half of all Trump voters is ≈15% of the country. (50% of 42% in a 70% turnout election.) pic.twitter.com/RsDpDxGT3i
— Taniel (@Taniel) September 10, 2016
Think of 100 people you know. Fifteen of them are pretty awful, right? The ones you avoid at parties because they are constantly saying racist jokes? They are voting for Donald Trump in November. That was her point.
And that’s a generous estimate. In an election without such a high turnout, Trump’s “real” support plummets to about 17 percent.
She is not counting out a ton of Americans, she’s excising the toxic but vocal minority that think it’s okay to hurl racial slurs at black people, deport brown people, ban Muslims, and rape female reporters (Seriously). And do we really want those people hand picking who should run the country for the rest of us?
Featured image via Lintao Zhang/Getty Images