Every now and then, you’ll see a demonstration of support for a Republican, like Trump, in some heavily Democratic area and some people will choose to interpret it as a sign that either there’s a silent majority being activated, or the area is turning less Democratic than it used to be, or it is an indication of some shocking Republican victory coming down the pike.
A good example arrived Tuesday morning, as commuters in Los Angeles were greeted by “a large “Trump” sign erected overnight on a hillside near the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass.”
All other things being equal, a campaign certainly would prefer that its supporters are so enthusiastic that they erect giant signs overnight, in (quite literal) high-traffic areas, generating earned media when the sign appears and when the sign is inevitably taken down. Demonstrations of support like this certainly can’t hurt. But that doesn’t really tell us much about whether Trump is attracting broad support in a heavily Democratic-leaning area.
In terms of sheer numbers, Los Angeles has a lot of Trump supporters, both those who advertise it and those who keep their political views private. In 2016, Trump won 769,743 votes in Los Angeles County.
That is more votes than Trump won in Vermont, Hawaii, Alaska, Wyoming, and Delaware — combined. Trump won more votes in Los Angeles County than he did in the entire states of Kansas, Connecticut, Arkansas, or Mississippi.
But that large total number of Trump voters is relatively small compared to the Democrats in the region. Trump’s 769,743 votes were just 22 percent of the total vote in Los Angeles County, as Hillary Clinton won more than 2.4 million. In the state of California, Trump won more than 4.4 million votes in 2016 – his third-highest total number of votes in any state behind Florida and Texas. But Clinton won more than 8.7 million.
The odds are good that this time around, Donald Trump will win hundreds of thousands of votes in L.A. County, and who knows, maybe he will hit a million. But the safest of safe bets is that Biden will win the county by a wide margin and win California by a wide margin. Last time around, Clinton won the state, 67.1 percent to 31.6 percent. A late September Survey USA poll put Biden ahead, 59 percent to 32 percent.
Trump signs appearing on hillsides overnight are a nice indicator of enthusiasm and passion. But they aren’t much of an indicator of which candidate has more support in the electorate.