Uncharted Territory

If this political year feels unprecedented, it’s because it is. Even Nate Silver, oracle of the numbers, admits to its abnormality.

In a normal presidential election, both candidates raise essentially unlimited money and staff their campaigns with hundreds of experienced professionals. In a normal presidential election, both candidates are good representatives of their party’s traditional values and therefore unite almost all their party’s voters behind them. In a normal presidential election, both candidates have years of experience running for office and deftly pivot away from controversies to exploit their opponents’ weaknesses. In a normal presidential election, both candidates target a broad enough range of demographic groups to have a viable chance of reaching 51 percent of the vote. This may not be a normal presidential election because while most of those things are true for Clinton, it’s not clear that any of them apply to Trump.

Silver’s acknowledgement of the “not normal” elements of this particular election came in an essay in which he explored the possibility of a landslide for Clinton. We haven’t had any landslides for quite some time–since Reagan, to be specific–and one of the factors militating against one is the highly partisan divide of the American electorate.

These patterns [close elections versus those won by large margins] seem to have some relationship with partisanship, with highly partisan epochs tending to produce close elections by guaranteeing each party its fair share of support. Trump’s nomination, however, reflects profound disarray within the Republican Party. Furthermore, about 30 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning voters have an unfavorable view of Trump. How many of them will vote for Clinton is hard to say, but parties facing this much internal strife, such as Republicans in 1964 or Democrats in 1972 or 1980, have often suffered landslide losses.

An electoral college vote of 270 or more is all that is needed to elect Clinton. The value of a landslide–or anything close–is that it would sweep in down-ticket candidates. Conventional wisdom says a decisive Clinton win will give the Democrats the Senate, but it will take a massive sweep to wrest control of the extensively gerrymandered House.

A big win wouldn’t only give Hillary a legislative branch she could work with. It would also help Democrats chip away at the Republicans’ huge advantage in the nation’s statehouses. (We might even narrow the gap here in Indiana, where the GOP currently enjoys a super-majority.)

A girl can dream.

Given the intense hatred of Hillary Clinton that has been carefully nurtured by Republicans over the years, there is probably a ceiling to her support, even against the unthinkable disaster that is Donald Trump–a ceiling that will prevent her from winning a landslide. And while it does look unlikely that Trump can rebound from his self-inflicted wounds, the last thing we need in this bizarre election cycle is complacency.

If you’ve read this far, please check to be sure that your voter registration is current and correct–and stay healthy at least through November 9th……

14 thoughts on “Uncharted Territory

  1. Sheila: “How many of them will vote for Clinton is hard to say, but parties facing this much internal strife, such as Republicans in 1964 or Democrats in 1972 or 1980, have often suffered LANDSLIDE losses.”

    If you’re interested in how to create a landslide, I refer you all to “The Seventh Sense” by Joshua Cooper Ramo (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2016) http://www.JoshuaCooperRamo.com.

    Who could no better than the co-chief executive officer and vice chairman of KISSINGER Associates and a member of the board of directors of FecEx and Starbucks. Just take a look at his resume on the above referred to link.

  2. I will exhale when the votes are counted and the results are final. Until then I keep imagining a miraculous recovery and victory for Donald Trump followed by the dominoes falling.

  3. I always few candidates that win and assume he or she has a “mandate” to go all crazy while in office. This presidential election seems primed for that. I suspect many candidates up and down the ballot are going to get votes they might not have normally received due to the crazy at the top. But this doesn’t mean that people either know of, or care about the winning candidates agenda.

  4. daleb,

    Cheer-up!

    Donald Trump is under the impression he is riding a seemingly Tsunami wave, however, he is unaware of the defects in the system that has created it. As Joshua Cooper Ramo has pointed out in his book, all non-linear systems [ such as the Tea Party brand] are subject to NODAL defects which can cause a catastrophic cascade throughout the system.

  5. With the third party candidates getting more than 10%, my reading is that Trump wins this election. Liberals have lost what little political savvy they ever had and are completely polarized and polarizing. Moderates seem to be in a daze because of the noise between Trump and the Trump haters.
    This feels way too much like Sinclair Lewis’ “It can’t happen here’

  6. Prof Said:
    “If you’ve read this far, please check to be sure that your voter registration is current and correct–and stay healthy at least through November 9th……”
    in addition, please vote as early as possible. Get your vote locked in.

  7. The only poll that matters is the one on November 8th. Pay no attention to those rosy predictions for Democrats that we are seeing now. The unthinkable can happen.

  8. Peggy; thank you! I have one friend who has been a political activist in the San Francisco area for more than 50 years who actually believes Jill Stein will be elected president. Another friend, a lesbian, who keeps telling me to stop being afraid because Hillary is going to be elected president. Both are intelligent women who seem to be wearing blinders, the one friend drove through the 5 “Trump” yard signs to get to my house and past the 6th “Trump” yard sign to return to her home. She did applaud my “Bernie for President” yard sign and my next door neighbor’s but missed the obvious odds number-wise.

    The vital importance of local elections this November is not being referred to and/or stressed as often as is necessary to clean out the current Congress who has done nothing at state or national level. My friend Dana Black; running against Representative Brian Bosma in the 88th district said he has done NO campaigning. Been in the House for 30 years; he believes there is no need to be concern about being evicted. Is he right? If so; how many other Republicans at all state and national levels believe they have an inherent right to their current position? We CAN and we MUST prove them wrong. Vote on November 8th; raise your voices and take back this state and the country from the GOP who have foisted Donald Trump and Mike Pence on us. Is it ignorance or payback on their part for those of us who elected President Obama – TWICE?

  9. “Given the intense hatred of Hillary Clinton that has been carefully nurtured by Republicans over the years, there is probably a ceiling to her support, even against the unthinkable disaster that is Donald Trump–a ceiling that will prevent her from winning a landslide.”

    This hatred for Hillary, I believe, is more about her being an intelligent female than about her name. I actually think that if Bill Clinton was running for president that he would be more popular just because he is a male. His past would not affect him as much as his past affects his wife.

  10. Preconceived sexist mindsets are difficult to overcome. Name “recognition” also plays a part in this particular election; pro or con. Remember the source of the insult, “Your name is mud (Mudd)” due to the misguided, misunderstood connection to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln? Many people still believe that space is the “last frontier”; I believe it is the human mind.

  11. Sheila and Nancy are both right on target. When Hillary dared to attend cabinet meetings while Bill was President and then committed the ultimate offense of going to Capitol Hill to lobby for universal health care, she was pilloried as a woman who didn’t “know her place”. And horror of horrors – she might want a political future of her own. Well, they’ll show HER.

  12. Oh ye of little faith! Trump is toast; Hillary is going to win big time barring a last minute miracle (which are few and far between). I have the Senate in our pocket as well and even a possibility that we could re-take the horribly gerrymandered House. There are millions of the deluded who will vote for Trump, of course, but there are going to be millions more who vote for Hillary, as well they should, since (as Obama noted) she is the best prepared candidate ever (and he rightly included himself and her husband as less well-prepared than she is). Her depth of experience especially stands out by comparison with that of her opponent, who has none and is not interested in acquiring any, relying instead on insult and pretense to carry the day. His plan will not work. We win, and win big! Nonetheless, let’s make sure we show up on Election Day – just to make sure.

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