Friday, September 02, 2016

It Won't Be Long

When it comes to elections, I usually say don't look at the polls until after Labor Day, since that's when the public truly starts to pay attention.  But I'm not sure if it applies to this Presidential race.  Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both well known and not well liked.  People have a pretty good idea about them.  And with the exception of a short period during the Republican National Convention, Clinton has held a solid lead in the polls for months.

So what chance does Donald have?  It's not impossible, but victory seems unlikely.  My guess is that Hillary is happy to be running against Trump.  She has obvious weaknesses and a conventional Republican would be able to take advantage of them, but Trump is always about Trump, which makes it harder for him to capitalize. (What other candidate--the day after his official nomination--would do something like attack Ted Cruz and say he doesn't want his support anyway?)

Trump's big chance will be in the debates.  Clinton is seasoned, but lackluster, while he's explosive and unpredictable.  If he's properly prepared (a big if) and can keep it together (a bigger if), perhaps he can surprise people who think he's dangerous or insane or a fascist, and get them to say maybe he's not so bad..

Some claim the polls are tightening.  Perhaps, though at present it seems like normal drift--I need to see significant change in a number of polls for a couple weeks before I'm convinced. In any case, Hillary is solidly ahead at present, by 4 points or so.  There was a time that may not have seemed that impressive, but these days you're not going to end up much better.  The last popular vote landslide was Reagan in 1984.  Since then no one's won by over 10% and these days a gap of under 5% seems to be the new normal.

Some Trump fans say the polls systematically undercount Trump voters. While this is possible, I see no strong evidence for it.  He does excite certain voters, such as the white working class, but he turns off plenty more, such as college educated suburban whites.  And it's not like the polls undercounted him during the primary season.  I think the argument is better that the polls undercount Clinton's support.

For one thing, she's got the most sophisticated get-out-the-vote apparatus any campaign has ever known (while Trump has a Twitter account). Second, undecided, last-second voters tend to go for safety--the devil they know--and that's Hillary. Third, the last Presidential election undercounted President Obama's support quite a bit (and remember this was the second-term, bloom-off-the-rose Obama).  Also, polls suggest the high numbers that third party candidates Johnson and Stein receive are most likely hurting Clinton, and there's a reasonable chance their support will go down when partisans come home.

And even if the polls are close--even if Trump has a slight lead--Clinton should still be the favorite.  To win, Trump will probably need to take every state Romney took, and at present he's behind in a few of them.  Then he'll probably need to take the swing states of Florida, Ohio and Virginia.  And if he can manage all that, he'll still need to pick up another blue state.

In other words, Trump--indeed, any Republican running for President--has a lot more hoops to jump through than a Democrat.  You need 270 Electoral votes to win, and in the last quarter century the lowest a Democrat got was 251.  The vast majority of tossups have to go to Trump or he loses.

So while it's still a race worth watching, you should be happy if you're a Hillary fan.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I generally agree on this race but I think the race would be different if it involved two serious candidates rather than just one. Crazy Trump has coarsened the dialogue to put in mildly and ramped up the Hillary hate (everybody feels free to hate here). I don't buy that Hillary would necessarily be in a worse position against a less crazy Republican (not sure Cruz would fit that bill)- she might but it would depend entirely on that candidate's ability to appeal.

5:08 AM, September 03, 2016  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

It is true, the reticence that people feel in expressing their hatred of Trump is profound. What a different world it would be if they felt free to cut loose and let fly. But I can just see it coming, all these right leaning, even fascist debate moderators are going to boost Trump and attack Hillary on every little nit.

All that ill will toward Hillary, well, I just don't get it Her entire life she has sacrificed everything for others, and has a set a model of generosity, truthfulness and even heartfelt vulnerability.

It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it. I feel like that I-talian injun.

6:30 AM, September 03, 2016  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Rubio would have probably been able to beat Hillary. The far right would have grumbled, but Rubio's back story would have appealed to working class, his Spanish would have given him a slightly bigger slice of the Hispanic vote, his youth might even have attracted some Bernie voters. And then i wouldn't have to fear the next S.Ct. nomination.

4:28 PM, September 03, 2016  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

You aren't ghost writing for Gingrich, are you? Isn't he doing some alt history stuff?

Trump is going to be much more interesting. I want him to win because I want to see how much of a Democrat he is.

But yes, the reason Hillary is favored is because she's done such a good job of rejecting the far left.

8:40 AM, September 04, 2016  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

I agree with the conventional wisdom that at least half of the 13 original Republican candidates would have beat Hillary in November, and Biden would have beat Trump in a massive landslide.

12:19 PM, September 04, 2016  

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