If nothing else, give him credit for consistency. Michael Moore has been spooked by Donald Trump for a while.
Back in November, the liberal filmmaker swung through Washington to screen his latest documentary, “Where to Invade Next,” and predicted the billionaire businessman would win the Republican nomination.
This was months before the Iowa Caucus, where Trump would actually finish second to Ted Cruz, but Moore said the GOP would ultimately carry him all the way, out of love for “the Donald Trump show.”
Now Moore is grabbing headlines with, from a Democratic perspective, an even more dire prediction: he’s a rare liberal declaring that Trump will beat Hillary Clinton in the general election.
The crux of Moore’s argument is that a surge of white working class voters in the Rust Belt — specifically Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania — will put the Republican over the top, aided by demoralization among Democrats and distrust of Clinton.
It’ll be similar to the Brexit strategy, the filmmaker said on “Real Time with Bill Maher” last week, with non-urban areas of the country rebelling against the liberalism of cities.
“People are in denial about this,” he said, “but the chance of him winning is really, really good.”
Not everyone is convinced. On Sunday, Republican message maven Frank Luntz took to Twitter and pointed out that Moore predicted a Mitt Romney presidency in 2012. In Bill Maher’s studio, it was MSNBC host Joy Reid pushing back against his reasoning.
“In Ohio, you still have Cuyahoga County,” she said, referring to a Democratic stronghold. “You still have Cleveland, which is a substantially African-American city. You still have Detroit in Michigan. … What happens is that voters of color stay home, unfortunately, in off years, but in presidential years with normal turnout Donald Trump is going to need something like 65 to 66 percent of the white vote, which is not easy to do. Mitt Romney got 59 percent. Only Ronald Reagan has gotten 66, and he only did it one out of the two times he ran.”
Reid added that “if African-Americans and Latino’s didn’t exist, if they all were beamed to another planet, sure, Donald Trump would win, because he’s going to win more white voters. But as long as voters of color turn out in normal numbers, the likelihood is he won’t win.”
Reid’s argument certainly squares with conventional wisdom among many Democrats, but Moore elaborated on his thoughts in a lengthy essay for his website. Some of it will sound a bit over the top to many readers — “millions fancy themselves as closet anarchists once they draw the curtain and are all alone in the voting booth” — but he’s far from the only analyst liberals trust who’s taking Trump seriously.
Maher himself said the Republican could certainly win, and he hopes people like Moore shout their worries from the rooftops until November to fend off complacency. Meanwhile, the celebrated FiveThirtyEight forecaster Nate Silver wrote that Trump got a bounce out of the Republican National Convention, citing national polls showing the race a dead heat.
“For now, we can say that Clinton isn’t just going to glide to victory,” Silver wrote. “Trump has a real chance at becoming president, and although Clinton is still favored, she’s already had a bumpy ride.”