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The Myth of a Tight 2016 US Election

Trump accuses Clinton of being on drugs during debate

It does not matter where one turns, the headlines scream that the 2016 US election is tight. How tight? Like in Clinton 42% and Trump 42% according to recent polls. There are state polls showing that Trump is ahead in Florida, Ohio, and other battle ground states. In fact, we have polls that show that it is Clinton who has some catching up to do.

These are all myths to me and to any discerning newspaper reader or television watcher. We know that if X is a positive number and if Y is also a positive number then X+Y cannot be a negative number. With this little hypothesis let us explode the myth of US tight election.

Pollsters tell us that Mrs. Clinton has an 8-point lead among women. We know that women constitute about 51% of the electorate and that they vote at a higher rate than men. If this is true, then Mr. Trump has much catching up to do. The election cannot then be tight.

We also know that blacks make up 12% of the US electorate and that their voting rate is approaching white voting rate. We are also told that Clinton has 70-30 advantage among blacks. If this is also true, it would seem that Trump is falling further behind.

Nobody should be told that Trump’s speeches about the Hispanics has made him unappealing to this population segment. According to some polls Mr. Trump is trailing Mrs. Clinton 20-80 among the Hispanics. We know that Hispanics make up 15% of voters. We also believe that Hispanics are incensed by Trump’s characterization of Hispanics as rapists, criminals and worse and that this population segment is itching to show their anger.

Muslim population is at best 1% of the electorate and therefore insignificant. But this population has been the butt of Mr. Trump’s campaign. He would not let them into the country, and would closely monitor those already in the country. Muslims are more educated than Christians and follow politics a lot more closely. They feel threatened by a Trump’s presidency. Mrs. Clinton has approximately 100% of this 1%.

Catholics make up about 35% of all voters. Generally, Catholics do not vote as a block, but they also do not take kindly to anyone who disrespects the Pope. Mr. Trump has done that severally the most visible being over the Mexican Wall construction. When Pope Francis asked that we build peace instead of walls and that we welcome refugees Trump derided the peoples’ pope in his usual arrogant way. Clinton will pick up as much as 51% of the Catholic vote just because of this. Main line Protestant votes (Methodists, Episcopalians, Baptists, Presbyterians, etc.) often trend the Catholics votes. So expect Mrs. Clinton to capture 51% of these votes.

While on this religious digression please note that with Mr. Romney’s vicious attack on Mr. Trump followers of the Later Day Saints, the Mormons, will lean Mrs. Clinton’s way. We know that Evangelicals are strong supporters of Mr. Trump. With an estimated 25-30% of Christians this is where Mr. Trump gains ground on Mrs. Clinton. Some suggest that Trump would take this group 55-45. The inclusion of Blacks and Hispanic among evangelicals will dilute Mr. Trump’s strength here.

It is no secret that Trump’s grip on his fellow Republicans is not as firm as it ought to be especially among GOP leaders. I have observed 10 presidential elections in United States. Most often there are disagreements during the primary selection stages but all disputes and errors are forgiven once a nominee emerges. There was Teddy Kennedy/Carter ruffle as an example. But in 2016, the vitriol during the primaries has continued. Each week a new set of died-in-the wool Republicans come out to give reasons why Mr. Trump is not fit to be the president of these United States. These proclamations have impact. I venture to suggest that Clinton will capture up to 8% of Republican voters. If she captures any GOP votes there is no hope for Trump. Trump on the other hand is not going to capture more than 2% of the Democratic vote. The 2% vote would be some of the Bernie Sanders core supporters.

Finally, Trump is on the election trail all by himself, occasionally supported by his children who have no political following whatsoever. His wife has been withdrawn after a disastrous outing in Cleveland. But Clinton has a battalion of surrogates each with his/her own coattails: Bill, Obama, Biden, Warren, Sanders, to name a few. She has a well-funded grass roots operation on the ground in every state, and has more ground offices and a far larger bank account.

It follows that together; these analyses demonstrate an election which cannot be close at all; that a positive X plus a positive Y cannot be a negative number. Mrs. Clinton will win the popular vote by a wide margin.

But unfortunately US election is not really a popular election. The true election is performed at the electoral college which is where state delegates vote for the president after the masses have gone home. Looking at the electoral map things are even gloomier for Trump.

See the table below for the states with the most electoral votes according to apportionment data from the 2010 Census.

Rank State Electoral Votes

1. California 53
3. Texas 36
2. New York 27
4. Florida 27
5. Pennsylvania 18
6. Illinois 18
7. Ohio 16
8. Michigan 14
9. Georgia 14
9. North Carolina 13
9. New Jersey 12

Only Texas (36) can be said to be solidly in Trump’s bag and even that is debatable with the Bush’s coldness to Trump. But California, NY, New Jersey (92) are Clinton’s. Clinton therefore starts with a 2-1 advantage. There is strong campaigning in most “red states” and very little in “blue states.”

The next logical question is who is pushing this tight election myth and why?

My guess is everybody but for different reasons.

To Trump a close election means that he has a chance and it would motivate his supporters if they believe that their candidate has a chance. It will help his fund raising capabilities as donors donate if there is a chance that the donation would do some good. So each new poll that shows tightness is given a strong boost by the Trump Campaign. Even Republican leaders who do not support Trump want to motivate their voters to turn out so as to prevent a turnover in both the Senate and House and therefore promotes a tight election myth.

Democrats are also promoting a tight election mythology to force their voters to turn up in large numbers so that they would take over both Houses. It also helps fund raising which will be distributed to congressional elections and in the states that they want to turn democratic. A foregone conclusion may force a low turnout which history has shown favors the GOP.

But the foremost pushers of a tight election are the media industry. My brother, a news junkie, is visiting and I no longer have access to my entertainment programs- sports, music, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune etc., as he has the TV on CNN and CNBC all the time watching the polls. And he is not alone. Not too far behind are the pollsters. They will be out of business if people lost interest. So they have obligations to their bottom line accountants to keep it close

There is a $3 billion super fund out there and some people and organizations that want a piece of it. If the election is already decided, the money would disappear.

It is in every body’s interest to keep the election tight so that the fund will keep growing.

Those are my views; yours are welcome.

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Ripples Nigeria

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