Last scandal loses?
As I write this, the election is six days away. Real Clear Politics shows Hillary Clinton with an Electoral College advantage, leading 246 to 164. The former Secretary of State cannot rest easy, however. That’s partly because she needs 270 Electoral College votes to win and partly because recent trends have been going against her. The potential for an upset by Donald Trump can be found in the fact that the Real Clear projections show 10 states in the Toss-Up column, along with a single Electoral Vote from Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. On top of that, team Trump believes that a couple of other states — Michigan and Wisconsin — might also be in play. We’ve reached the point in the campaign where fans of both teams confidently predict victory is theirs. But neither team should be quite that confident. With so many toss-ups, surprises should probably be expected. There are at least three major reasons for a lack of certainty about who will win. First, the most recent national polls show a very tight race (Clinton has less than a two-point advantage in the Real Clear Average as I write this). Given the difficulty of projecting turnout, it is possible that the polls are off by two or three points. So, if Clinton hangs on to such a narrow lead, a surprise victory by Trump is well within the reasonable bounds of expectations. So, too, is a five point Clinton victory. By the way, the same polling dynamic could lead either party to sweep the key Senate races and propel their team to control of the Senate. A second reason for uncertainty is both major party candidates are disliked and distrusted by most voters. The people who will decide the ultimate winner hate them both and wonder how the country got stuck with such a horrible choice. This adds volatility to the mix because there is no heartfelt loyalty to either candidate. For the most part, these decisive voters are not swinging back and forth between supporting Clinton one day and Trump the next, they’re trying to decide if they will bother to vote. Some are deciding between voting for a third-party option and one of the major party candidates. These are decisions that will be made at the very last minute. I’ve heard from several people already who planned to do one thing when they went into the voting booth and changed their mind. That’s what happens when people don’t like their options. The final reason for uncertainty is that there is still a week to go in a close and volatile election. Over the past 10 days, the trends have moved in favor of the GOP. Will they continue, will they reverse, or will the race stabilize where it is? That may be decided by events in the news more than anything else. Does team Clinton have more bombshell videos of Trump to release? Or, will Clinton get blindsided by new Wikileaks disclosures? Given that the swing voters dislike both candidates, any late breaking reminders of what they dislike could be decisive. It could be a case of the candidate with the last scandal loses.