Friday, September 16, 2016

Am I freaking out...

...about the latest polls showing the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton tightening? Yes, a little.

According to, Hillary's lead has been cut to 61.5 percent to 34.4 over Trump. (It has Iowa, Ohio and North Carolina in pink -- leaning red.) And over at, the most optimistic scenario has Mrs. Clinton beating the Donald, 60 percent to 39.9. (Nate Silver adds Florida to the pink list.)

So why am I not freaking out a lot? Well, this line from a front-page article in the Times says it all (my emphasis):

Despite the voters’ misgivings, the major-party nominees are consolidating support among their party faithful. Mrs. Clinton commands support of 87 percent of Democrats, while Mr. Trump is supported by 85 percent of Republicans.

At the end of the day, the United States is essentially 50/50 Republican/Democrat. And in the absence of a financial crisis/recession or a terrorist/national security event the public will stick with the incumbent party.

Think about it: Jimmy Carter lost in 1980 because the U. S. was in a recession and Americans were being held hostage in Iran; George H. W. Bush lost in 1992 because voters thought the economy was still in recession; and Al Gore actually won the popular vote in 2000.

Granted, the economy isn't screaming right now, but it is in recovery. Don't believe me? President Obama's approval ratings are over 50 percent right now, higher than when he beat Mitt Romney in 2012. Think his numbers would be this high if people weren't feeling just a little better about the economy?

And, finally, the Democrats have demographics on their side. Like it or not, whites are just declining as a percentage of the electorate. (Don't blame me: I had two kids.)

So despite what anyone says, I think Republicans and Democrats will come home in November, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein will fade, and people just won't -- in reasonably good times -- pull the lever for a risky candidate like Trump. The red states from 2008 and 2012 will generally stay red and the blue states from the last two elections will stay blue. (Republicans may trade Iowa for North Carolina, but that would be a wash.)

It's one thing to cast a protest vote for Trump, Johnson or Stein if Clinton is seen as a heavy favorite. But if the election is thought to be close voters may opt for security over adventure:

Sixty-seven percent of voters see Mr. Trump as a risky choice for president, compared with 51 percent who hold that view about Mrs. Clinton.

Now, I'm sure you've also heard that "Clinton is the least-popular major party nominee of all time — except for Donald Trump" and "it’s hard — indeed, unprecedented — for such an unpopular person to win the presidency." But, remember, we're dealing with an awfully small sample size. There have only been 44 presidents (43 if you count Grover Cleveland once) in the entire history of the United States. And, since World War II, there have only been twelve. So, if you tell me that no one with Hillary's unfavorables has ever been elected president, I could come back and say no woman has ever been elected either. So, what? And, before Obama, no African American had ever been elected. And, before Kennedy, no Catholic. And . . . you get the idea.

So am I nervous? Yes, but no more so than at this time in 2012 when Obama held a slim lead over Romney. Will I wait until November 9 to exhale? Yes, but no more so than last time.

Now, is Mrs. Clinton a lousy candidate? Absolutely. But until further notice, she's still the odds-on favorite to win in November.

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