Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Thursday, September 15, 2016

At What Point Should We Freak Out?

The polls are indeed tightening. As Josh Marshall explains, there are a few reasons:

1- Clinton has had a pretty brutal press cycle.  Trump, meanwhile, does seem to have fundamentally broken the ability of news organizations to keep up.  For instance, at yesterday's event in Flint, someone in the audience accused him of using racist policies in his buildings.  Trump said that was a lie, despite the fact he's been fined repeatedly for doing just that.  It's amazing and the false equivalency between Clinton's secretiveness and Trump's brazen lying is stunning.

2- Likely voter screens hurt Clinton.  This has always been somewhat true of the split between Democrats and Republicans.  Republicans are more reliable voters.  If you go with registered voters, Clinton has a pretty comfortable lead.  So, the organization and resources that Clinton is putting into GOTV is going to be critical.  But it could be insufficient.

3- Third parties are hurting Clinton, especially with the young.  While some anti-Trump Republicans are rallying around Gary Johnson, much of his support seems to be coming from young voters. Hey!  He smokes weed!  That leaves off the incredibly regressive policies that he also supports, like ending social security, the minimum wage, etc.  Younger voters have thin memories of the Nader debacle, and so they might very well tip the election to Trump by withholding support from Clinton.

All of this puts the first debate in a more important light.  Clinton is bleeding support.  The press is normalizing Trump's compulsive lying.  The degree to which Clinton can expose Trump as an ignoramus might be what is necessary to reverse the momentum.  If she has a disastrous debate like Obama had in his first tilt with Romney, then I think it's time to freak out.

The idea that Trump's fundamental unsuitability for the office might create a wave election that tips the House?  That idea seems fundamentally dead.

However, here is some information that might assuage your fears a little:

The Huffington Post poll aggregator had the race at 46.9% and 46.6% on October 9th, 2012.  Obama went on to win over 50% of the vote (51.1%).  In mid-September, he had had a four point lead that collapsed after that first debate, but he eventually rebounded and ground out a fairly comfortable win.  Clinton currently has about a 3 point lead in their aggregation of polls.  That is shrinking, but as long as she keeps leading, she keeps leading.

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