Hillary Clinton
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

If Hillary Clinton wins by even one electoral vote it will be historic and monumental.

But if you’re like me, you care about the size of Trump’s loss (if he loses). A narrow defeat would energize him and his supporters and validate his tactics in the campaign and in life. A massive thumping would discredit his approach and boost those within the GOP who wanted to take a different course.

Deadspin writer Drew Magary argues that Trump is about to “get his ass kicked.” But that leads to the important question that political scientists have wrestled with for years: what would officially count as an ass kicking?

First, Magary may be too young to remember what a face-rubbed-in-the-dirt pounding looks like. In 1972 and 1984 the Democratic nominees for President managed to win one state each. Yes, they both lost 49 states to 2.

With that in mind, here are some benchmarks to help decide whether a Trump loss counts as sufficiently humiliating.

If Trump loses by two points or less, he will be the strongest Republican loser in 56 years.

If Trump loses by three points or less, he will have beaten the margin of Mitt Romney.

If he loses by 5 points or so, he’ll be average for Republican losers (5.6% since 1976). Yes, Donald “Grab Them By The Pussy” Trump will have done better than George H.W. Bush or Robert Dole.

If he loses by 7.1% or less he will still have done better than his cowardly nemisis John McCain.

Only if he loses by 8.6% or more will he go down as the biggest Republican loser of the color-TV era (i.e. post 1964).

Only if he loses by 24.4% will he be the biggest Republican loser of all time (edging out Alf Landon in 1936).

Only if he loses by 26.2% will he be the biggest loser of all time (that honor currently belongs to James Cox who lost to the Warren “Governor-Irrestible” Harding).

Steven Waldman

Follow Steven on Twitter @stevenwaldman. Steven Waldman is the president and co-founder of Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. He is the author of Sacred Liberty: America’s Long, Bloody, and Ongoing Struggle for Religious Freedom. As senior adviser to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, he was the prime author of the landmark report Information Needs of Communities.