Monday, September 19, 2016


Tom, Yastreblyansky, Crank -- thank you again. You had a depressing week to write about while I was off gallivanting, and you did a great job.

While I was away I was keeping tabs on Hillary Clinton's health and the birtherism gaslighting of the Donald Trump campaign. I missed the terrorist incidents, but I got here for the manhunt (which, the New York area being what it is, will probably be just a massive inconvenience for most people). I'm expecting the alleged perp to be caught soon, at which point Donald Trump will probably recommend that he be waterboarded, to the non-dismay of the let-it-all-burn Sandersites who are so self-righteous about Iraq.

What upsets me is that the presidential race has turned into pretty much what I've feared. I've said for a long time that white voters in the Midwest are becoming increasingly Republican, as seen in guberntorial and legislative elections throughout the Obama era, and I've worried that the endless Sanders campaign of Clinton vilification was going to fix all his negative impressions of Clinton in stone for his voter base; last week I read that the Clinton campaign is planning increased outreach the the Sanders base and to Midwesterners. I've worried that the press hates the Clintons, and I just heard a Bill Clinton interview on NPR this morning that was unrelievedly negative toward her. Clinton's ace in the hole -- the ineptitude of Donald Trump as a candidate -- seems to have been turned around because Kellyanne Conway appears to be a Trump whisperer, apparently the only person who can persuade Trump that keeping his instincts in check will allow him to hurt his enemies more. And that all dovetails with the awful way the press responds to Trump's bomb-throwing (Tom's "Welcome to the 2016 News Cycle" post nails it).

I still think Clinton will eke out a win, but "eke out" is the key phrase. Maybe the race will become more favorable to Clinton, but I'm not going to preface any more gloomy posts with "Oh, I know, I'm just being a dumb Eeyore," because sometimes gloom is justified. As I've said for years, the GOP is increasingly the party of Team White People all over America, not just in the South, and Trump may yet win as a result of that. More likely (I hope), brown and black people will still pull our asses out of the fire -- not that we deserve it.


Frank Wilhoit said...

If you needed your ass pulled out of the fire, you may as well have burned.

Victor said...

Welcome back, Steve!

And we can welcome back the "Gore-ing" of a Clinton. This time, our media has it in for Hillary. Actually, they never didn't try to "Gore" her!

Jim Snyder said...

I have said multiple times in comments here, "it won't be close."

Still time for Trump to fall in the polls, or HRC to rise, but at this juncture I think I should eat crow. I never ever thought, post-DNC convention, that the race would show Trump tied with HRC.

So, SteveM: you were right and I was wrong. Credit where credit is due.

Kevin Drum at MoJo has two good posts, one on the progressive case for HRC, the other about Trump and the Big Lie technique (not that Drum calls it that.)

And Waldman at TAP on the descent into madness.

Anonymous said...

I think she's in by a landslide.

Caveat Emptor.

O'owlish Amenh
(Ten Bears)

Unknown said...

So just to be clear is it the media and the complaints Sanders used against Hillary in the primaries that are causing her current problems?

Steve M. said...

So, SteveM: you were right and I was wrong. Credit where credit is due.

I understand -- a lot of very smart people believed it would be a big Clinton win. I worried that maybe it was just my nature that made me fear the worst.

And Waldman at TAP on the descent into madness.

That's a great piece -- thanks. (Link here.) This is so true:

The Trump campaign has obviously figured out that this election is essentially the class bully facing off against the nerdy smart girl on the playground, and "I know you are but what am I?" is the most sophisticated and effective riposte one can offer to any criticism. And lord help us, it's working.

Robert said...

She just needs to pivot to the Right more to court the moderate Republican voters (both of them). Naming a few more Ken Salazars to her transition team should do the trick.

AllieG said...

It will be the old white people in retirement communities who will be the first to suffer under their hero President Trump as their portfolios are cut in half by Inauguration Day. I'm retired, and believe me, I think about that every day. So does every financial institution in the world.

Dark Avenger said...

My prediction still stands.

Tom Hilton said...

I still think it'll be at least a 5-point differential. But we'll see.

Anyway, hope you had a great vacation! And thanks again for the opportunity to post here.

Jim Snyder said...

The Devil is ice-skating: Jennifer Rubin pronounces anathema on the GOP.

I hope you guys are right that HRC will be a winner by a comfortable margin in November.

Sam Wang says she's still likely to win.

Heck, I'll take a win even by a small margin.

But there were so many good reasons to think that Trump could not possibly win the general ... including a) his inability to pivot; b) my conviction that the general electorate could not possibly find appealing anyone with Trump's record (cough Khizr Khan); c) demographics - Trump has dissed almost every group except white males without a college degree; and d) ground game.

Yet Trump has pulled even in the polls?!? After that disastrous RNC convention? After his twitter fight with the Khans?!? After everything else? WTF?!?

Sam Wang's argument (as best I understand it, anyway; caveat emptor) is "regression to the mean" and "larger Dem base".

He could be right. He could also be wrong. I am not entirely reassured, because that doesn't explain how we got from a stable 9pt (or 6pt or whatever) HRC lead to a quasi-stable drawn match.

And I'll believe that our press corpse will do their job if and when campaign coverage changes.

Jimbo said...

I am by no means an expert on the Presidential polling but the shrinkage in HRC's lead is partly due to a change from registered voters to likely voters. The latter have a track record, which is why they are used. However, I don't know whether the pollsters have been able to compensate for the ever-growing number of potential/actual voters that don't have a landline or who otherwise don't respond to polls. Another important factor is how well either of them does in the debates. Trump shouldn't be able to get away with the evasion and ad hominem attacks approach of the primary (though I'm certain he will try). I have a very low regard for TV debate moderators, especially to fact check. All in all, not a good situation at all.

The New York Crank said...

There's a thing one market research company used to call a "Mushiness Index." Am I for Hillary or Trump, and if Trump, am I for Trump do-or-die? Or must sorta for Trump because I'm sorta down on Hillary and therefor "Mushy."

What could firm the mush under Hillary's feet is the first debate next week. If she chops Trump up into little pieces and serves him to the lions, or the cockroaches, her support will firm and grow. If she blows it by stepping a little too far over the wonky line or simply with smothering blandness, I'm afraid she's finished.

And so will the rest of us be.

Yours crankily,
The New York Crank

Philo Vaihinger said...

As I've said for years, the GOP is increasingly the party of Team White People all over America, not just in the South, and Trump may yet win as a result of that. More likely (I hope), brown and black people will still pull our asses out of the fire -- not that we deserve it.


And who made that happen?

Anonymous said...

Trump is just as disgusting as ever. Conway hasn't restrained him at all. The people who want to vote for Trump WANT HIM to be disgusting, because they are disgusting.

Swellsman said...

Yeah, I'very told a bunch of co-workers who are POC (I'm a white guy) that I still feel OK re: the election, but only because I trust black and brown voters to save this country from itself.

"We can't leave this election up to white people," I've said, "because white people are gonna fuck it up."

jsrtheta said...

I don't deny you were right to foresee that things would tighten. But today we are seeing things swing back to normalcy. as Trump flips to full automatic whilst aiming at his foot. Or feet.

One lesson I take to heart from you is that things could go pear-shaped again, but I'm not seeing it. If there is someone with even a room temperature IQ in the Trump camp, they know he will be slaughtered in the debates. He may not melt down completely, but he will melt down.

Remember how Obama sort of slept through the first '02 debate? Yeah, that ain't gonna happen. Trumpalos gonna Trump, but the admittedly less-than-we-thought sane majority is still out there, and is planning on voting, if only to ensure that their hometown doesn't glow.

Trump might even survive Debate One, but his act will be very old by Debate Three, and the fact-checking will have surpassed critical mass by that point anyway.

jsrtheta said...

Let me throw out one idea for which I have no rational explanation: Polls might actually be meaningless.

I am not a pollster. I believe pollsters continuously work on their approaches, and consume data voraciously. I believe they are pros.

Still, I remember seeing one fairly serious poll that was conducted via landline only. I do not know a single human being who has a landline. Hell, I'm over 60 and I don't have a fucking landline. OTOH, I see polls that supposedly incorporate cell numbers, but how the hell do they get those? Sure, I am not aware of every database out there, but, remember, the new telephone paradigm is privacy. It is very hard to conduct a cell phone poll with any degree of accuracy. Here in Colorado, many cell phones have area codes from other states, or area codes that apply to cell phones only and are not geographically specific. We have accomplished a tremendous amount of anonymity, but at the cost of knowing who the fuck we're actually talking to. My ex-fiancee lived in Chicago for two years, but used a "303" area code. Denver = Chicago? I don't think so.

I don't trust the numbers I see from either side. Of course, I could just be an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Dear Steve,

A delight to read you again. One quibble however: you declare that Bill Clinton was "unrelievedly negative" towards his wife. I clicked the link you provided, and found him unrelievedly positive. He is, of course, one of her most prominent campaign allies, and expect no differently. Whatever possessed you to claim that Bill Dissed Hill?

Steve M. said...

I was referring to the interview questions. Bill's responses were fine, but every question was, in effect, "Tell me why your wife isn't morally unfit to be president."