This election has been dispiriting to say the least. The flood of attacks on Hillary Clinton have been as predictable as they have been erroneous, like flashbacks to the 90s when I saw so much of this up close and personal. She has been forced to engage in a shame walk worthy of Cersei Lannister as tens of thousands of emails have either been leaked or disclosed and then cherry picked to make her look as venal and suspicious as possible. Investigators within our nation’s lead law enforcement agency leak information to cause her political pain and Congressional Republicans are circling like vultures already floating impeachment while threatening to deny her the basic privileges of office like Supreme Court appointments. Her other foe is the media, which long ago was bemoaning “Clinton fatigue” and has worked their magic in turning her family’s charitable foundation into something nefarious instead of a leading light in helping the poor and needy.
Taken together, this loose affiliation of foes may end up denying Clinton the White House, which would be disappointing enough, but it would be done in the service of elevating a racist, xenophobic, misogynist who has been accused of sexual predation by no less than a dozen women to the Presidency. The incalculable damage Donald Trump has already done to the body politic and our stature in the world would be magnified one hundred-fold were he the leader of the free world.
With that said, here are some predictions and thoughts on what I think will happen on Tuesday and a few things I am going to watch:
President of the United States: I have Hillary Clinton becoming our 45th President in a 352-186 electoral vote landslide. I got to this total based on the 2012 map but giving Trump Iowa and Hillary North Carolina and Arizona. I think Ohio is the only other possible state that might flip to Trump, though I think Hillary will win narrowly, while it would not surprise me if Clinton eked out a win in Georgia or lost narrowly in Arizona. Taken together, her electoral college range is between 325 and 375. The two states with congressional district apportionment, Nebraska and Maine, may also flip a lone electoral vote to the other side, but I do not think it will matter, regardless.
U.S. Senate: I have Democratic pick-ups in Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Illinois, and North Carolina and a hold in Nevada. I have Republicans keeping Florida. The “x” factor is Missouri. I would love to see Jason Kander pull out a win against Roy Blunt, a quintessential Republican insider who has done absolutely nothing in the Washington, D.C. other than divorce his first wife to marry a tobacco lobbyist. Chuck Schumer will be Majority Leader and will, I expect, eliminate the filibuster rule for all judicial appointments as one of his first orders of business.
House of Representatives: I am not Charlie Cook and I do not have the granular-level knowledge to plausibly predict what will happen other than to say I would expect a Democratic pick-up of between 10 and 15 seats, leaving Republicans with a narrower majority and a clear choice. Do they go full obstructionist, toss Paul Ryan overboard and elevate a more overtly partisan into the role of Speaker? Do “moderate” Republicans cut a deal with Democrats to pick a more centrist Speaker? Or do Republicans do what we expect, which is carp a lot about Ryan but ask him to remain. My guess is that if the Republican majority is really narrow, like 5 seats narrow, Ryan quits Congress to focus on running in 2020 while the inmates run the asylum.
Miscellaneous: A couple of things I will be watching for after votes are tallied and we can dig into the data:
- Third party results: Neither Gary Johnson nor Jill Stein garnered 1% of the vote in 2012, yet polls consistently showed both well above that number this year. In Johnson’s case, he flirted with high single digits/low double digits for a time and Stein topped out around 5%. I have my doubts that either will even come close to these numbers.
- Republican cross-overs: There was some sturm und drang a few days ago when a firm commissioned by the College of William and Mary did what was essentially exit polling over the phone of early voters in Florida. Their results indicated that 28% of registered Republicans had crossed over to vote for Hillary, an enormous number. If Hillary were to get even half that amount in Florida and elsewhere, her victory will be far greater than polls predict.
- Ticket splitters: Much has been made about the potential for a return to ticket splitting due to Trump’s toxicity in certain parts of states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. The extent of ticket splitting may end up swaying who controls the Senate not just in those states but in places like Missouri, North Carolina, and Indiana where Trump is polling better.
The last thing I will be curious to see is what, if any, after action reporting is done on how awful the media coverage writ large has been for the last 18 months. While some quality work has been done by people like David Farenthold, so much of what passed for coverage was solely focused on horse race coverage instead of policy. Layered on top of that has been cable news’s willingness to give Trump unfettered access to their airwaves for what amounted in many cases to hour-long infomercials for his campaign via stump speeches. Their collective decision to run stories on emails stolen by a foreign government to embarrass the Clinton team, not to mention the blind eye they largely turned to an FBI Director inserting himself into the race less than two weeks before election day, has been shameful.
Even more disheartening is the expectation that on the off chance Trump does win, media outlets will disclaim responsibility for his victory even though the media’s failure to fully vet Trump during the primaries while also failing to call out his myriad lies were two reasons he was able to steamroll his opposition. The media also conflated Clinton and Trump’s sins in ways that made them seem equally bad even though doing so was like saying the common cold and stage four cancer are the same because they both make you sick. In the balance, they minimized Hillary’s four decades of public service while elevating Trump’s dodgy business career even though the former was exemplary and the latter was littered with bankruptcies and lawsuits.
Anyway, if Hillary wins focus will quickly turn to the next chapter in this ongoing battle between her and the press and her and her political opponents, with little pause being taken to consider her singular accomplishment or its importance to our democracy. Like everything Hillary has had to endure since she burst on the national scene, she will shrug and get back to work.
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