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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Entering the Home Stretch

The general election is less that two weeks away.  The third and final debate did not seem to have much of any impact on polls.  The state by state predictions based on current polling show no states have flipped since last week.  Clinton remains in a decisive lead over Trump, 333 to 205.  That is a huge cushion for Clinton.

Trump has been campaigning heavily in Florida, which is a must win for him.  It is not a must win for Clinton. Even if Trump wins Florida, and three or four other swing States, Clinton still has the necessary 270 vote majority.

Third party candidates have faded quickly.  Jill Stein with the Green Party never seemed to catch on with Sanders supporters.  The Clinton campaign did a great job discrediting her with a few of her fringe issues, like vaccinations.  Gary Johnson got a look and will win significant double digit percentages in some States, but is not likely to win any electoral votes.  His epic fails on foreign policy questions seem to have turned off many voters looking for a viable alternative.

There is one candidate, independent Evan McMullin, who seems to be making waves now.  He is running on a traditionally conservative platform, that seems to resonate with voters who cannot stand Clinton and are appalled by Trump.  Some polls have McMullin winning Utah.  He seems to be doing well in Idaho as well. Although only on the ballot in eleven States, he may end up acting as a spoiler, and possibly may win a few electoral votes.

Even so, none of the third parties seem to have a meaningful impact on Clinton's decisive lead over Trump. Even if McMullin wins one or two states, those come from Trump's column anyway.  They would only make his defeat larger.  Numbers seem to be solidifying at this point.  Absent some massive surprise, it seems over.

Early voting has already started in 31 States.  Even if something radically changes voter positions, many have already locked in their votes.  Candidates are focused on getting their voters to the polls.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump took time off from campaigning this morning to attend the ribbon cutting of his new hotel in Washington, DC.  Possible reasons for doing so:

  • he thinks this will get more publicity for him than yet another political speech,
  • it focuses voters on his work as a private property entrepreneur,
  • he realizes, he is going to lose the election and needs to focus on business, or 
  • it is a sign that his entire campaign has been one long publicity stunt and that he cares much more about his real estate business.
Like any good movie super villain, even after you think he is dead, he rises once more to make that final strike.  Trump's final strike may be is "the election is rigged" gambit.  No, it won't help him win, but it will sow discord and distrust for years to come.  

The notion that he will not accept the results of the election is more pathetic than horrifying.  It would be horrifying if he had an army behind him to overthrow the election results.  But the US military is not likely to overthrow the elected leader, even if the top officers may not be happy with the newly elected Commander in Chief.  Trump may throw a temper tantrum, but their is zero chance it will have any impact on the transition of power.

That said, stirring up millions of disappointed voters and encouraging them to believe that the elections were stolen, rather than the fact that a majority of their fellow Americans really do disagree with them, is a dangerous notion.  It may lead to some violence.  It will poison any attempts to get the parties to work together over the next few years.  

Trump seems to hold to the notion that any publicity is good publicity.  If he really did this for publicity, I have a hard time seeing how to will work to his personal benefit.  Trump's main customer base for his luxury hotels and real estate has been upper income college educated elites.  Most of those people have soured on Trump based on his antics during this election season.  I would think this would impact negatively, any desire to buy Trump products or stay at Trump properties.  On the other hand, perhaps most of his income now comes from his reality TV shows.  If he returns to those, his candidacy may increase his audience among his white working class base, who knows?

But I digress.  My main point to make today is that the Presidential election is essentially over.  The campaigns will continue to get out the vote for the next two weeks.  Clinton has a stronger ground game. Although she cannot turn out black voters the way Obama did, she has a solid get out the vote campaign. With a weak and highly negative opponent, and the failure of any third party to catch fire, Clinton's path to victory seems assured.

The big question now is how the Presidential race will affect Congress.  Clinton seems focused now on getting more Senators and members of Congress elected.  She knows that a Republican majority in the House and Senate will mean her agenda hits a brick wall.  Overcoming substantial majorities in both houses is still a difficult task.

Six years ago, two years into Obama's first term, the Republicans won a landslide victory in Congress. As such, most of the Senators up for reelection this year are Republicans.  No incumbent Democrats seem to have any chance of losing this year, though the open seat in Nevada (currently held by retiring Harry Reid) is in serious contention.  At least two seats seem likely to flip from Republican to Democrat (Wisconsin and Illinois). Republican seats in Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Missouri, and Florida seem up for grabs this year.  Of those, Democrats are on track to pick up another two: New Hampshire and Illinois.  They may also win an open seat in Indiana currently under Republican control.  If they can win those and keep Nevada, they get 50 Senators, with VP Tim Kaine breaking ties.  It is a slim majority, but a majority nonetheless.  Even so, Republicans can tie up things as a minority with more than 40 votes.  It remains a recipe for gridlock.

The House of Representatives is much more likely to remain in Republican hands.  Currently, the Republicans hold 247 seats, 27 seats above the 218 majority.  There are only 21 seats considered toss ups at this point, 17 of which are Republican incumbent seats.  Even if all those go to the Democrats (unlikely) Republicans would still hold a 10 seat majority.  Therefore, President Clinton can expect to have at least one half of the Congress in Republican hands.  

1 comment:

  1. CNN has this election getting closer. For the life of me, I don't understand it. Trump is not fit to be President.