I've been saying for weeks that it'll probably be a 2-point Clinton victory. Now maybe it'll be a 4-point Clinton victory.Since then, more women have come forth with tales of sexual assault by Trump. His response has been to denounce his accusers as ugly liars before crowds who want the women locked up -- that is, when he's not making dark predictions of a rigged election.
So after all this, how big a blowout is he llkely to face in November, according to a new ABC/Washington Post poll?
... the race ... remains close, a testament to the strong pull of partisan preferences.Yup -- according to this poll, if the election were to be held today, it would be a 4-point Clinton victory.
The contest stands at 47-43 percent, Clinton-Trump, among likely voters, with 5 percent support for Gary Johnson and 2 percent for the Green Party’s Jill Stein if the election were today.
Many Trump voters are backing him even though they think he did the things he's being accused of, and even though they think he's a bad person in general:
Trump issued a series of statements apologizing for what he said on the video, but nearly 6 in 10 likely voters say they do not think the apology was sincere, including more than one-fifth of Republicans....Trump is a sexual assailant, and his voters don't care:
... 30 percent of likely voters who support Trump say he doesn’t have a strong moral character.
Two-thirds of registered voters say their preference is not affected by the release of an 11-year-old videotape in which Trump crudely described his sexual advances toward women. The one-third who say it makes them less apt to support him fit the profile of those who were unlikely to do so in the first place.There will be more accusers, but it won't matter -- Trump voters are dug in. They hate Hillary Clinton and they'll tolerate anything from their candidate if they think he's the only one standing in the way of a Clinton presidency.
I know -- it's just one poll. In most other recent polls, Clinton has a much bigger lead. (A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Clinton with an 11-point lead.) But I think the impact of the sexual allegations crested a couple of days ago. It clearly left a mark, and it's certain to be affecting early voting. But by Election Day it could be background noise.
This poll doesn't ask about Trump's election-fraud conspiracy theories, but we know from a September ABC/Post poll that Trump voters think voter fraud is widespread:
Nearly half of Americans say that voter fraud occurs at least somewhat often according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, a viewpoint at odds with studies showing it rarely occurs in U.S. elections....We've seen polling numbers like this:
Over two-thirds of Trump voters say voter fraud occurs often, compared with less than one-third of Clinton supporters.
In August, Public Policy Polling found 69 percent of Trump voters in North Carolina think Clinton would only win if the election was rigged: 40 percent actually blamed ACORN, which officially disbanded in 2010, as the reason they expected mischief.There's a lot of concern about a Boston Globe article published yesterday in which Trump followers warn that they're not going to take it lightly if the voting doesn't go their way:
“If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it,” Dan Bowman, a 50-year-old contractor, said of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. “We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take.... I would do whatever I can for my country.”I think there's going to some intimidation on Election Day, and some violence after the polls close. That's bad enough. But I continue to suspect that Trump won't actually plot a coup intended to overturn the election. Doing that would be very different from running for president -- when you're running for president, there's an obvious series of steps you need to take (win these primaries, win these caucuses). In his shambolic, disorganized way, Trump was able to get through the primaries and run a general election campaign of sorts. If he wants to overturn the election results, I don't think he'll know what steps to take. I worry that Roger Stone and Steve Bannon, who just want to watch the world burn, might be able to lay out an agenda for him. But I don't know if he could manage the follow-through.
... “Trump said to watch your precincts. I’m going to go, for sure,” said Steve Webb, a 61-year-old carpenter from Fairfield, Ohio.
“I’ll look for ... well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” he said. “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”
But the polls and reports like the Globe story suggest that Trump's voters will be ready if he does make the effort. They're angry. They think the vote is rigged. And they may be keeping the race closer than we thought (though I don't think they'll be any less skeptical about a landslide than about a closer Clinton win).
Other Republicans are going to be the key to all this. When outraged Trumpers start talking about fraud, what will they say? We're supposed to be heartened by Paul Ryan's words on this subject, but I have my doubts:
“Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity,” Ryan’s press secretary AshLee Strong said in an email to BuzzFeed News when asked about Trump’s claims.Is he giving himself an out with that talk about "the states"? ("I hoped the states would conduct the election fairly, but Pennsylvania and Colorado look a little hinky...")
Are Ryan and McConnell going to back up Trump and his crazies if they cry fraud? I think they'll feel constrained if Clinton wins in a blowout (so get out and vote for Clinton, dammit). But it's a 4-point race now, and we're one Clinton coughing fit away from a 2-point race. If Clinton's Electoral College margin of victory is based on one or two close states, I don't trust the rest of the GOP not to endorse a coup.