BRADENTON -- Former U.S. Rep. Dan Miller, a Republican, believes Hillary Clinton will likely be the next president.
"There's no white knight coming in to save the Republican Party," Miller told members of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. About 50 people came to hear the former congressman for the Bradenton-Sarasota area speak on the 2016 presidential election.
Miller presented an argument based on numbers and historical trends for his prediction. Basically, Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee and Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. Miller cited polls that said about 17 percent of Republicans said they would not vote for Donald Trump, compared to 6 percent of Democrats who said they wouldn't vote for Clinton.
"You need at least 90 percent of your base's support if you're going to win," Miller said. "And Trump doesn't have that."
Never miss a local story.
Miller said there's a decent possibility that Trump won't reach the number of delegates required to secure the Republican nomination outright, but even then Miller expects unbound delegates will be pressured into selecting Trump since he is winning by such a large margin.
"It's unlikely Trump can be stopped," Miller said. "I think Trump's going to be within 100 delegates, and pressure is going to be on for these unbound delegates to just say, 'Let's get this over with.'"
Even if it was closer, Miller said, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is second for the Republican nomination but is currently trailing Trump by about 2 million votes, wouldn't be able to win against Clinton. Ohio Gov. John Kasich would actually be the most electable in a general election out of the Republican candidates left, Miller argued, but Kasich didn't have the organization to pull off a successful primary campaign.
"Cruz is too conservative to win in November," Miller said. "He's the most conservative member of the Senate."
Any Republican running for president already has odds stacked against them in the current political landscape. Miller explained that 18 states with a total of 242 electoral votes have voted Democrat in every presidential election since 1992. Candidates need 270 electoral votes to win out of a total of 538 available, which means Democrats have to get fewer swing states than Republicans to secure the nomination.
Past the presidential election, Miller said he's concerned that what he calls the "Donald Trump Phenomenon" will hurt Congressional standings for the GOP as well. He predicts Republicans will manage to hold on to the House, but negative views of Trump will likely mean Democrats take back control of the Senate.
"There's serious, real concern that if Trump is the nominee, down ballot will be hurt significantly," Miller said.
Attendees, which included most of the Manatee County Commission, school board members, candidates and several business people in Manatee, asked Miller questions about other bizarre aspects of the campaign season, such as what would happen if Clinton were indicted for her email scandal.
If the FBI did decide to indict her, Miller said Democrats would likely have Vice President Joe Biden sweep in to run in her place. That could upset some of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' support, but Miller said Sanders has the same problem as Cruz in terms of electability in the general election.
"He's a socialist," Miller said. "He doesn't have moderate appeal."
Miller concluded by saying he hopes the campaign process, and the Republican party, had reached its low and wouldn't be dropping lower. He said he doesn't believe he would be electable today because he's too moderate. Miller ended his last term in Congress in 2002, choosing not to run past 10 years, and has served in various positions in academia since then.
"Whoever wins, this nasty campaign is going to make next year a nightmare for governing," Miller said.
Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055. You can follow her on Twitter @KateIrby