It’s not just the polls

I’ll admit, I find the tightness of the polls right now disturbing and concerning.  That said, I’d be a hell of a lot more of both if the numbers for both candidates were closer to 50 instead of around 40, leaving a lot of undecided voters in these polls.  I do think there’s plenty of reason to believe that, when all is said and done, Hillary Clinton should win by a decent margin.  Sure, the polls are close.  And sure external events can intervene and change things.  But there’s a fair amount of stuff we do know about this campaign which suggests a strong advantage for Clinton.  (Big) Steve Saideman is mostly an IR/Comparative Political Scientist, but he sums it up nicely:

But what I am referring to are the fundamentals of the campaign itself:

  • African-Americans will simply not vote for Trump, and there is little Trump can or will do to change that.  Indeed, he has had speakers that have tripled down on racism–Steve King’s no “sub-group” has contributed to civilization crap.
  • Latino-Americans are going to vote overwhelmingly for HRC and are very likely to turn out (large voter registration drives) as Trump has thoroughly alienated this group.
  • Women are going to vote far more for HRC than Trump since the misogyny in his campaign is deep and is likely to worsen as the confrontation between the two candidates goes on and gets face to face in debates. Trump will have to do far better than Romney among white males to compensate for his failures to get minority votes and the votes of women.
  • The gap between the Clinton campaign and Trump’s campaign is about as wide as it has ever been in terms of organization, professionalism, depth, breadth, resources, etc.  The hiring of Manafort was seen as a good move to improve the campaign.  This convention has demonstrated that he has either not made much of a difference or he is wildly overrated.  Either way, this campaign is not getting better at the basic stuff.
  • The convention demonstrates again the wide disparity in the two parties at this stage.  The GOP is divided–people are forgetting about Monday? Not the delegates from Colorado.  Not the governor of Ohio.  Who is Trump trotting out in prime time at this convention?  Who are his surrogates?  His family, Chris Christie (who would have thought that the bridge scandal would be so overwhelmed by the sycophancy and desperation that has destroyed his reputation?), Ben Carson, and Newt Gingrich.  Who will speak for HRC?  A popular President Obama, Elizabeth Warren who will strengthen HRC’s weak flank, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and on and on.
  • Trump lacks discipline.  That could be my biggest understatement in seven years of blogging.  To message well means sticking to scripts and schedules, but Trump called into Fox during one of the more moving speeches at the convention.  He simply has no ability to focus and stay the course.  Indeed, Trump’s personality is a fundamental part of the his campaign–it works for him in some ways (when the audiences are narrow) and not so much in other ways…

But it comes back to the fundamentals that will be constant throughout the summer and fall: Trump is awful, he is awful for larger groups of voters, the demographics favor the Democrats and Hillary Clinton has figured out how to campaign. None of that is changing.  Focus on the uncertainties if you must, but I am going to keep on focusing on what I know and what will not change.

Not quite how I’d put it (and a little more rosy on some of these matters than me), but I think that really does get at some key points.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to It’s not just the polls

  1. Dafuq America says:

    Half and maybe more of those who you are calling undecided are mostly likely Gary Johnson supporters. He’s been consistently poling around 12% when he is actually included.

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