No one knows anything.
Since February, when it began appearing that the top of the card would feature Clinton vs. Trump, I have been saying that no one knows anything.
The metrics that have been used successfully to handicap previous presidential elections don’t work this time. There is too much that is without precedent and thus cannot be accurately modeled.
Start with the Democratic nominee. No presidential candidate in all of our history has ever campaigned for the office while being the target of a federal criminal investigation. Hilary Clinton clinched the Democratic nomination in June but was not cleared of criminal wrongdoing until FBI director James Comey gave his controversial news conference in early July.
A major political party actually nominated someone facing criminal indictment.
That storm cloud blew over.
Only to come back with just days left until election day.
Then there’s the Republican candidate. This presidential cycle, the Republican Party became the first in American history to put forth a nominee with exactly zero office-holding or military experience. Donald Trump has never so much as run for student council. Unlike the politically-inexperienced Dwight Eisenhower, he has never been in the military. Donald Trump has no experience in government, the first part of a president’s job, and no experience in the military, the second part of a president’s job. If Trump wins, it will be the equivalent of someone playing his first football game by starting at quarterback on Super Bowl Sunday.
Then there’s shaking hands, kissing babies, smiling and making people feel good. That’s what politicians do. But not these two. Trump’s huge rally crowds notwithstanding, the country has never had two more disliked candidates on the ballot. Even Democrats acknowledge that Hillary Clinton is unlikable and lacks charisma. As for Donald Trump, a huge percentage of his support derives solely from a visceral dislike of the alternative. Many Trump voters will cast ballots while holding their noses.
That brings us to the polls. There is a very strong likelihood that the polls are significantly less reliable this election cycle. We’ll know for certain a week from today, but as with the Brexit vote earlier this year, there is a good chance that the polls will call this one incorrectly. It’s not really their fault. Save for the polls that are blatantly agenda-driven, the fact is that the massive disconnection of telephone landlines that has occurred since 2012 has made the process of survey-taking exponentially more difficult. Households that have gone mobile only are effectively out of the polling sample.
According to those in the industry, it now takes at least 10 calls to get one respondent. The time and cost pressures introduced by that fact, together with the psychographic differences between those who still have a landline vs. those who don’t, skew the results,
Unlikable candidates. An ongoing criminal investigation. A candidate without political résumé. Suspect surveys.
Thus we find ourselves with one week to go.
I say again. No one knows anything.