Presidential Race Results Not Affected By Trump

Donald Trump - Presidential RaceI do think that there is something special about Donald Trump. Actually: lots of things. He’s clearly a psychopath — in a strict sense of the word. He’s also fairly dimwitted. It’s clear he’s unable to concentrate and thus incredibly ignorant. He’s the perfect presidential candidate for the Twitter age. But in terms of the politics, there’s nothing unusual about Donald Trump. He’s just like any other Republican in any presidential race.

We see this most clearly in the polling. What we are seeing is exactly what we saw with Mitt Romney in 2012. You may remember that he was losing badly to Barack Obama up to the first presidential debate. In that debate, he did well. True, he lied throughout and contradicted everything that he had been saying throughout the campaign. But in terms of political theater, he did great. And his polling numbers went way up. And all the pundits talked about how the debate had helped him and given him momentum.

Presidential Race Won’t Be Affected

Now, after Trump’s disastrous first debate, we are hearing that Trump’s momentum has stalled. It’s the same error they made with Mitt Romney. In 2012, the debate didn’t give Romney momentum. It just gave people who were always going to vote for him a reason to stop saying they were undecided and start saying they were going to vote for him.

What we’ve seen with Trump is that his numbers have have steadily improved over the last two months. This has not been because more and more people have been won over to him. It is just an indication that Republicans would vote for a groundhog if it had an “R” after its name. So these people have gradually gotten comfortable saying that they will vote for Trump. But they always were going to vote for Trump.

Clinton’s Numbers Haven’t Changed

Look at the Real Clear Politics average. Since the end of June, Hillary Clinton’s polling numbers have been quite solid. Yes, they’ve fluctuated. That’s because there are people who will definitely vote for her who get embarrassed when the meida start talking about her email server. But there’s no trend.

On the other side, Trump’s numbers have steadily increased for the same period of time. (The exception of that is his temporary peak from the RNC.) So people are wrong to think that things would be different if John Kasich or Ted Cruz had been the nominee. They wouldn’t have seen the long, slow increase in polling numbers; they would had numbers like Hillary’s: pretty steady.

John Kasich Wouldn’t Change a Thing

But in both cases, it would be the same: Hillary Clinton would be about 2 percentage points above Kashich, Cruz, or (as is the case) Trump.

But in both cases, it would be the same: Hillary Clinton would be about 2 percentage points above Kashich, Cruz, or (as is the case) Trump. And I can’t blame the Republican voters. I think they are wrong, but in terms of what they care about, any Republican would be better than any Democrat. I believe the opposite.

What I have a problem with is this idea that there is a kind of grand narrative of the presidential race. There isn’t. There is just a Democrat running against a Republican. And that’s all there is.

There Are Differences

Now that’s not to say that there aren’t things that will affect this presidential race. Trump’s explicit racism has the down side of scaring away conservatives who don’t want to be seen as racist. And this has been what Trump’s whole “minority outreach” campaign has been about: making them feel comfortable with him. And this is certainly going to cause Gary Johnson to do better than he normally would.

But the really big issue is that if John Kashich or Ted Cruz had won the nomination, they would have normal ground operations. They might not be as good as Hillary Clinton’s. But they would have had them. Trump seems to have next to nothing. And I suspect this will have a big effect that we are not seeing in the polls.

But when you hear pundits claim that this presidential race would be very different if the Republicans had nominated someone other than Donald Trump, don’t believe it. This presidential race will end up the same regardless of which nutjob the Republicans had nominated.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

7 thoughts on “Presidential Race Results Not Affected By Trump

  1. I think the sole thing that will affect what happens on election day at this point is the ground game. Which Clinton has a massive operation going and Trump I think has like two? Maybe three offices? I am reverse exaggerating but he doesn’t have much of anything going on and the Republicans are having to cover the expenses to the point that their own ground game is suffering down ticket.

    And apparently that doesn’t show up in polls.

    • You’ll be proud of me — I voted early today, and rather than just fill in random blanks for non-party positions like I usually have (court, school board, etc) I found out which candidate was endorsed by the Democratic Party and voted for them. Except once: a water commissioner, when the only two candidates were Democrat and Green.

      Now I gotta see if I can get my hands on a vehicle for Nov. 8 and help drive people to the polls!

    • Yeah, I keep thinking that even with Trump’s leads in Ohio and Iowa, he may well lose those states for that very reason.

  2. Up here in Canada, we’ve been promised (for whatever THAT’s worth) that our last election was the last election under the first-past-the-post system. Is there any movement in the US towards some form of proportional representation? Given the deadlock you’ve seen in Congress with one party resolutely blocking any legislation from the other party, I’d think PR would be popular.

    • A lot of good political ideas are actually popular here. Most people support government-run health care, breaking up the big banks, cheap college tuition, higher minimum wage, equal pay for women, etc. The problem is most of them don’t vote except in presidential elections. Believing that it’s pointless. Fully half of those who do vote want a totalitarian theocracy. As you’ve no doubt noticed, our political contests are covered like reality TV shows, not policy questions. The average American doesn’t even know what the House and Senate are, much less the state legislature. This kind of political ignorance has been highly pushed by propaganda from the far right, and it’s served them very well. Voters think “they’re all crooks” and that allows the real crooks to carry out the bidding of business interests. It’s bad.

      We’ve got people working hard on voter education and mobilization, but it’s gonna take awhile. They have decades worth of damage to undo.

    • Not that I’ve seen. Most Americans aren’t aware that other systems are even possible. They think, for example, that a prime minister is just a funny name for a president. So the idea that first-past-the-post wasn’t God-given would strike them as amazing. At the same time, when I talk to people about it, they like the idea other systems. But America is about the least democratic of the democratic countries.

      As for PR, I suspect that the other side could push back. “Would you want a communist in the legislature?!” Imagine a very stupid person. Then give them so much opium that they are almost asleep. That’s an average American.

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