I am willing to make a prediction. 

On January 20, 2017, Hillary Clinton will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

Her path will not be easy.  Bernie Sanders will continue to win key contests like Michigan.  I predict he will win Idaho’s Democratic caucuses on March 22.  But, she will ultimately prevail in July at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia because of her delegate leads in southern states and her overwhelming support among super delegates.

But, what about the Republicans?

Ted Cruz just won a smashing victory in Idaho.

But, Trump continues to rack up the lion’s share.

It is possible that Trump may fall short because of the splintered field.  If he does, the likely choice is Cruz.

Neither is in a position to win the general election.

Real Clear Politics keeps a running tally of polls by race, by candidate and by state.  They average all of the polling data and provide a bird’s eye view.

The picture is not pretty for either Trump or Cruz.

Among the American electorate, Trump has an average favorable rating of only 32.5% and a crushing unfavorable rating of 60.8%.  Basically, Americans by a 2-1 margin are down on Trump.  Candidates to win generally need to be in positive territory and it is hard to imagine a scenario where he can make folks like him more before November.

Cruz is not doing much better. His average favorable rating is even slightly lower than Trump’s at 31.9%.  His one bright note is that his average unfavorable rating is “only” 48.5%.  To win, he would have to perform an image makeover unlike any in history, despite the likely avalanche of negative Democratic ads on his hard right conservatism, divisive rhetoric and limited legislative accomplishment.

But, isn’t Hillary Clinton also disliked?  Yes, here overall numbers show an average favorable rating of 40.5% and an unfavorable rating of 53.3%.

The following chart illustrates the Republican candidate’s deep hole:

Candidate Average Favorable Rating Average Unfavorable Rating Net Rating
Clinton 40.5% 53.3% -12.8%
Trump 32.5% 60.8% -28.3%
Cruz 31.9% 48.5% -16.6%

Source: RealClearPolitics.com

Cruz is definitely in the stronger position. Head to head, Clinton leads Trump nationally 47.3% to 41.0%.  Cruz narrowly leads Clinton 46.5% to 45.0%.

That looks promising for Cruz, but the data in the swing states, the ones that determine the election, is just devastating -- as is polling among a key demographic.

Based on the last four elections, the seven key swing states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia.

To win, Clinton, will only need 23 of the 85 electoral votes from those states, according to well-respected Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Neither Trump nor Cruz are competitive in those deciding states.

Here’s an analysis of Trump’s swing state performance:

State Clinton Trump Electoral Votes
Colorado No data No data 9
Florida 45.0 43.8 29
Iowa 42.0 44.0 6
Nevada No data No data 6
New Hampshire 47.3 39.8 4
Ohio 46.0 43.5 18
Virginia 49.3 38.0 13

Source: RealClearPolitics.com

Clinton leads Trump in all but Iowa.  If she wins just Florida, or a combination of Ohio and Virginia, she wins.  To beat her, Trump could only lose a combination of Virginia, Nevada and New Hampshire and would have to sweep the other four.  The loss of any other single state would doom his chances.

Cruz does worse:

State Clinton Cruz Electoral Votes
Colorado No data No data 9
Florida 46.8 41.8 29
Iowa 43.5 47.0 6
Nevada No data No data 6
New Hampshire 45.5 41.0 4
Ohio 47.0 44.0 18
Virginia 47.3 41.0 13

Source: RealClearPolitics.com

The only swing state Cruz leads in is Iowa.  He trails even more in Florida and Virginia.

Another reason for my cynicism is a recent Washington Post/Univision Television poll of U.S. Hispanics released 2/25/16.  This demographic group is key in a wide swath of swing states and poor performance among them was a key reason Romney lost in 2012.

The poll shows the devastating impact of the anti-immigration rhetoric of both Trump and Cruz.

Hispanics give Clinton resounding margin of 73% to only 16% for Trump.  Cruz trails Clinton by a wide 27% to 65% result.   Both are on track to exceed Mitt Romney’s losing 2012 margin.

So, what should Republicans do? 

I think the U.S. Senate (as do most of the D.C. analysts I interact with) will be won by the Democrats.  Just too many Republican seats are on the ballot.

That leaves the United States House of Representatives.  It is critical that GOP volunteers and donors focus on House races.  Republicans have a wide margin of seats but these races are somewhat susceptible to the coattails from the winning presidential race.  But, hard, focused effort can hold onto the House even if Clinton wins a broad victory.

At least a Republican House will be able to serve as check to President Clinton and prevent another Obamacare.  In my mind, that makes that fight worthwhile and worthy of a diversion of resources from the presidential contest.

Steve Taggart is an Idaho Falls attorney specializing in bankruptcy (www.MaynesTaggart.com).  He has an extensive background in politics and public policy.  He can be reached atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..