AND HERE WE ARE, EXACTLY WHERE WE HAVE BEEN FOR MONTHS

Posted in Rants on November 6th, 2016 by Ed

The real kick in the teeth about this transcendently horrible election is that we've suffered through it mostly for naught. Very little about the candidates' relative standing has changed since the conventions. The recent FBI / Emails commotion, for example, was a textbook example of a non-story. No new information was involved. "Something something Hillary Clinton's emails or something." We've all been hearing about this for months. To anyone inclined not to vote for Hillary because of the email thing, nothing changed here. For people who don't care about the issue at all…well, nothing changed here either. In fact, the only movement in the polls since October 1 has been a slight bump for Trump – from defecting Gary Johnson voters. Johnson has gone from 8-10% to a predictable 4-5% (and probably won't do even that well on Election Day). The difference has accrued to Trump, presumably because your average Johnson supporter is a disaffected Republican.

Here we are, one day before the election, exactly where we have always been. My best prediction today is no different than what I said in June or in March or in 2015: There is no plausible scenario in which a candidate can win a presidential election in the modern era with essentially no votes from black or Hispanic voters. Factor in how much Trump has done to alienate women and you have no argument that does not involve an MTS (Magical Turnout Scenario). Every single prediction of a Trump win that I've read or heard over the past couple of months relies on an MTS. There's a "silent majority." There are people who have never voted before who will come out of the woodwork to vote Trump. African-Americans and Hispanics won't vote, because reasons. People are too scared of Scary Liberals to admit in polls that they support Trump but they're totally going to vote for him on Election Day. Huge conspiracies to vote fraudulently will be unraveled by patriots bravely monitoring polling places. On and on it has gone. Deluding themselves that improbable scenarios – in some cases pure fantasy – are going to save them has become an art among Republicans.

That leaves the related question of why we keep hearing that the election is so close. Neck-and-neck. On a razor's edge.

I'm beating a dead horse here, but just remember how "close" the election was claimed to be in 2012 versus the reality we observed. The media are driven by ratings. This is not a crazy conspiracy theory or some kind of adolescent Chomsky-esque slander; it's a simple statement of fact. Elections are their biggest ratings events, and they have every possible incentive to sell the narrative that the horserace is coming down to the wire. They have no incentive whatsoever to tell you that Clinton has a lead outside the margin of error and Trump needs some sort of miracle to close the gap. Already suffering from low ratings in the more competitive environment of modern media, TV news networks and political news sites badly need people to buy into the narrative that the race is close. If not, they will stop watching in the same way that the TV audience is likely to wander away when the Super Bowl is 50-0 at halftime.

Mitt Romney and John McCain were not exactly blown away or routed, but they were solidly defeated. That happened with each candidate getting something like 25-30% of the Hispanic vote. Trump is barely in double digits. Romney and McCain similarly did not go out of their way to alienate women, something Trump has turned into an X-Men superpower. While it is true that Hillary Clinton is statistically less popular and likable than voters felt Obama was in those two elections, none of the available evidence suggests that Democratic-leaning voters are any less likely to show up this year.

If I'm wrong I'll refund your money and we can start digging bunkers together. But I am highly confident that the scenario that plays out on Tuesday is going to be reminiscent of 2012, when the major media outlets declared 15 states "toss ups" and then one candidate won 14 of them, in some cases by large margins. No matter how many ways they try to convince themselves that there are, there simply are not enough dumb, old, or dumb and old white people to make an electoral majority without appealing to any other demographic in the electorate. In 1952 it was enough. The GOP seems hellbent on learning every four years that it no longer is.