I still expect Clinton to win in November, but I confess I’m surprised the contest is as close as it is right now. Tomorrow’s debate could really matter.
So the question is, why is it so close? Just looking at the Clinton side, here are some possible factors, tossed out off the top of my head —
1. Clinton was never as popular with the Dem voting base as party elites assumed. Over the past few years I heard many bobbleheads on the teevee claim that Hillary Clinton was wildly popular with the base. This notion was placed in their heads, I assume, by the same Democratic Party elites who chose Clinton as the nominee before the primaries had started. But while there were polls taken in 2014 and early 2015 showing that a majority of Democrats would vote for her, I never saw much enthusiasm for her here in Real World Land. Her success in polls was merely a name recognition thing, I suspect. She was getting the same results in 2006 and 2007, BTW.
The way she won the primaries didn’t help her. IMO the primaries usually provide the eventual winner with a pool of supporters whose enthusiasm was whipped up by the primary fight itself. But my sense of things is that while Clinton still has her devoted core supporters who will stand by her through thick and thin, her primary campaign didn’t whip up any enthusiasm among those who weren’t already Hillaryphiles to begin with. Many people voted for her out of duty and because they weren’t sold on the electability of her only rival, the old socialist guy.
2. She’s not getting an expected boost among nonwhite voters. Nate Cohn writes that “Mrs. Clinton is not poised to match the gains Mr. Obama made among nonwhite voters over previous Democratic nominees,” he said.Â Put another way, her support among blacks and Latinos was overrated and will not give her the boost in the general that she expected.
3. News Media and false equivalency. Do I have to spell this out? Trump isn’t being vetted in the part of national media that most voters actually see. Clinton, on the other hand, can’t catch a break.
4. The Two Third-Party Challengers.Â I’m not sure this is really much of a factor, especially the challenge coming from Stein. If it comes down to a very close election in November it might be a factor, however.
5. Independent voters could break either way.Â The only people who really like Clinton are true blue Dem Party loyalists. Among left-leaning independents, she’s kind of “meh,” if not downright disliked. I don’t think Trump is having the same problem with right-leaning independents.
6. Related to #5 — Trump probably is benefiting from widespread dislike of Clinton. Justified or not, a large portion of Americans genuinely hate Hillary Clinton. I suspect there are a lot of people planning to vote for Trump who wouldn’t consider him if anyone else were the Dem nominee. So while Clinton probably will get some crossover Republican votes, those will be more than offset by anybody-but Clinton voters.
7. Misogyny. I don’t think this is a big a factor as Hillary supporters believe, but it is marginal factor, I’m sure.
8. Young people will sit out this election. She’s not getting the support from younger voters that Obama got. They are less likely to be frightened by Trump and also less likely to vote for someone just because they have a D after their name. She has to give them a reason to vote for her, and so far she hasn’t.
Of course, the other part of this equation is, why are so many people planning to vote for Trump? I’ll cover that in another post.