With three days to go in the 2016 Presidential Election, it’s time for everyone to predict what will happen. Now or never. It’s free. So here I go too.
I still think that Hillary Clinton will be elected president. The reasons for it I explained in this column (in Spanish). My forecast is based, I have to admit, on 50% of gut feeling, 40% of an educated guess, and 10% of just partisan views. For I do think that Donald Trump is a very dangerous leader, demagogic and a racist, and that his proposal for bridging the divide between the two Americas is not the right one, both regarding policy and ideology.
The reality is that no one knows what will happen. The polls have tightened; their forecast is volatile, rapid-changing, and confusing to many. Public opinion has come to terms with the real possibility that Donald Trump could be the next president of the U.S.A.
The tightening of the polls is a constant in the last days of every presidential campaign I remember. In 2004, it seemed like Kerry could beat Bush. The latter won, though, narrowly in the electoral college vote (286 against 251) but amply in the popular vote (+2.4 points and almost three million more votes).
A similar tendency took place in the last days of the 2012 race. The day before the election, Obama was ahead in the polls by a narrow difference that ranged between one and two points. Romney had victory within his reach, public opinion thought. But Obama defeated Romney handsomely by 3.9 points, 332 to 206 in the electoral college vote, and by almost five million more votes in the popular vote.
Hillary is not Obama: that goes without saying. She lacks his charisma, his vision, and his rhetorical skills. His reputation and his authenticity. Part of her troubles has to do with her inability to mobilize and activate all the elements of the so-called “Obama coalition.” (The other half of the issue is, of course, her character flaws and her inability to look trustworthy to the voters.) Black voters, young voters (Millennials in particular), and women don’t seem to be as engaged and excited over a Clinton presidency as they were over a second Obama term.
On the other hand, though, signs of higher turnout among Hispanic voters are a good sign for the Clinton campaign. (An article on the New York Times this morning precisely discussed that.) The Hispanic vote could, in particular, explain Clinton’s narrow margin of victory (one point) in the polls in Florida as of this weekend.
Nationally, Hillary is still ahead in the RealClear Politics aggregate, holding a narrow lead of +2.2 points (44.9% to 42.7%). Statistically, this is still a wider margin that Obama had going into election day. Evidently, we should be careful with all polls. Their science is complex and biased: working with the same statistical data, a few methodological tweaks here and there will produce a very different numeric outcome. Besides, what is clear is that Hispanic and black voters (minorities, in general) are underrepresented in those national polls.
Without a doubt, for Hillary Clinton to achieve victory the following fours things have to happen. First, she needs a high turnout within black, Hispanic, and young voters, as well as women. Second, she needs a solid advantage in the early voting. Third, her campaign has to display a stronger and more effective ground game than Trump’s on election day (so that her volunteers may dissuade any cases of intimidation by Trump supporters and help out underprivileged voters to come out and vote). Finally, she has to maintain the “firewall” in the electoral college vote, which means, in particular, to hold onto Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Michigan on election day.
If all “Blue states” that traditionally vote Democrat (and that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012) hold, and Clinton wins Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Michigan-which seems at this point she can still do-, she will be at 266 electoral votes. (270 are needed to win the presidency. I excluded Maine, which allocates four votes by congressional districts, in these calculations.) Then just one more state turned to her side will decide the contest: could be Nevada (6 electoral college votes), North Carolina (15), or New Hampshire (4) in addition to just one electoral district in Maine. Florida, with 29 electoral votes, will be the end of Trump’s hopes for sure.
I don’t see how Trump can turn the tables in Michigan, and Colorado, and Pennsylvania–and still hold to Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Florida. It can happen. If it does happen, such an outcome will be an indictment not only in liberal ideology in general, and in the Democratic Party’s campaign maneuvers, but in particular in the person of Hillary Clinton.
For given Donald Trump’s excesses and flaws, had not been Hillary Clinton the Democratic nominee, this election would have been over months ago. All polls suggest that either Joe Biden or Michael Bloomberg (to mention just two alternative Democratic candidates) would have defeated Trump easily in a general election.
I still think that Trump cannot apprehend and have not apprehended yet, in all reality, the grandiosity of his historic opportunity. Never, ever, a character of his moral and intellectual caliber has come this close to the presidency, at least in modern times. (Never anyone could have thought that a character of Trump’s moral and intellectual caliber could be this close to being President.) If he loses, Trump should grab a stone and start repeatedly hitting his head, over and over: “Why? Why? Why? …Why I didn’t win? …So close… so close!”
A chance like this one, Donald, you could not have dreamed of-ever in all your selfish, egotistical, arrogant dreams.