Friday, May 6, 2016

Fear and Loathing on the 2016 Campaign Trail


You gotta love this piece from Professor Larry Sabato, at Sabato's Crystal Ball, "The Fall Outlook: Fear and Loathing on the 2016 Campaign Trail":
Our views on the Electoral College outcome of a Clinton-Trump match-up haven’t changed since we published our “Trumpmare” map a month ago. If anything, we wonder whether our total of 347 EVs for Clinton to 191 EVs for Trump is too generous to the GOP.

Still, party polarization will probably help Trump. In the end, millions of Republicans will hold their nose and vote against Hillary and for Trump, just as millions of Democrats will put aside their hesitations about Clinton to stop Trump. Negative partisanship — casting a ballot mainly against the other party’s nominee rather than for your party’s candidate — will be all the rage in November. This will be especially likely after the vicious scorched-earth campaign on both sides that is coming. Someone could make a fortune at polling places selling clothespins for the nostrils.

However, we do recognize at least some upset potential in Trump. Third terms for the White House party are difficult to secure. President Obama is, more or less, at 50% job approval — pretty good, in fact, for this president. But an unexpected economic plunge, major terrorist success, international crisis, or serious scandal could subtract critical percentage points from Clinton. Voters are not inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt, so intertwined is her fate with Obama’s, and so fixed is her scarred image after decades in the hothouse of politics.

Just as important, Clinton can lose if she and her team smugly take victory for granted. You are halfway to losing when you think you can’t lose. Students of President Lyndon Johnson’s campaign against the doomed Barry Goldwater recognize that LBJ wouldn’t let his lieutenants rest on favorable polls; he ran a superb if brutal effort against Goldwater, and never let up. Much the same was true for President Richard Nixon in 1972. While he and his team schemed to insure George McGovern became his opponent, using dirty tricks against some of McGovern’s Democratic foes, Nixon had tasted defeat and near-defeat too often in his career to rest easy for even a day. Will overconfidence generated by favorable surveys cripple the Clinton campaign?

Trump has forced the political world to ingest a sizable dose of humility. Even many of political science’s much-vaunted statistical models that attempt to predict election results cannot account for a candidate like Trump — either because he overrides or suspends some of the normal “rules” of politics, or because he proves that parties do not always nominate electable candidates...


I think it's advantage Democrats, but I wouldn't count out Donald Trump for a second. It's going to be the most interesting presidential campaign in my lifetime.