Record Turnout, Unpredictable Voting Patterns May Decide US Election
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Opinion polls and thousands of media interviews suggest that a majority of voters will not be voting so much for presidential candidates as against them.
Republican nominee Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton are two of the most controversial candidates for either major party in history, and both continue to generate record levels of suspicion and disapproval among voters.
Poling figures have been wildly volatile throughout the 2016 race. Clinton has held a national lead over Trump, but it has fluctuated from well over 10 percent at its height to a statistically insignificant 1 to 2 percent.
In the past ten days, polls have indicated Trump being in the lead over Clinton and the momentum on his side. Alternative media polls have indicated Trump having a significant lead over Clinton.
ARCHAIC US ELECTORAL COLLEGE RULES FAVOR CLINTON
Under the archaic 228-year–old US political system, the number of votes cast in each US state for either candidate will go through a winner-takes-all system to the Electoral College.
That means the candidate who wins a majority, even barely, in the most populous states will likely defeat the one who piles up much bigger majorities in a lot of smaller population states.
This system favors Clinton: Polling shows her with expected unassailable leads in at least three of the most populous US states —California, New York and Illinois.
Trump should hold Texas, though opinion polls show that many Hispanics, recent immigrants and younger voters in that state trending for Clinton.
Polls also show Trump narrowly ahead in Florida, but trailing Clinton in Virginia, where Washington bureaucrats and influence peddlers disproportionately live.
Trump must hold on to Texas and Florida as well as Arizona and he must beat the odds to win Pennsylvania to have any realistic hope of reaching the crucial figure of 270 electoral votes that will give him a majority of state votes for president in the Electoral College.
Trump leads in most, but not all traditional Heartland states that have voted Republican and have trended conservative over the past 48 years.
TRUMP PINS HOPE ON OLD INDUSTRIAL US STATES
Trump has also offered Republicans the prospect of a resurgence they have not known in 88 years since the election of Herbert Hoover in 1928 in the heavy industrial states of the Northeast and Midwest, the so-called Foundry region of the United States.
These are areas that have been devastated by the free trade policies of the past 40 and more years, especially by the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico and by China joining the World Trade Organization in 2000.
Clinton’s husband, Bill Clinton, approved and supported both those controversial trade decisions during his two terms as US president from 1992-93 to 2001.
Two great unknown factors loom over the current election: Whether many millions of poor working class voters will turn out for Trump and whether millions of young Millennials will support Clinton the way they flocked to Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders.
Trump needs a record turnout among poor and unemployed Americans in the depressed old industrial regions of the country. He needs their support to have any real hope of taking Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin.
Trump also needs a surge of dissatisfied working class and threatened middle class support to have any hope of mounting any serious challenge in New York State: New York City is overwhelmingly for Clinton, but the economically depressed north of the state holds many potential Trump supporters.
CLINTON SEEKS TO MOBILIZE AFRICAN-AMERICANS, HISPANICS
Current President Barack Obama benefited from total support among the 40-million-strong African American community in 2008 and 2012. He also enjoyed high levels of support, especially in 2008, from young generation “Millennial” voters.
Obama and his wife Michelle have been campaigning hard to mobilize those groups and the Hispanics to support Clinton.
Trump’s attacks on Mexico over trade and immigration look certain to turn many Hispanics against him, so Clinton looks certain to win at least two thirds to three quarters of the vote in both the Hispanic and African American communities.
However, Trump has also been courting both groups vigorously and hopes to at least reduce Clinton’s advantage by winning at least 20 percent to 30 percent of voters from them.
Clinton has looked vulnerable from the clear lack of enthusiasm and support for her among almost half the voters in the five-month Democratic primary campaign. They cast their votes for her unlikely challenger, 74-year-old Senator Bernie Sanders.
Sanders endorsed Clinton clearly over Trump after Clinton winning the primary election under questionable circumstances. Sanders’ support on the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party has rapidly dissipated since he endorsed Clinton, and he now looks unlikely to bring many young voters in the Clinton camp.
Clinton appears to continue to believe her best approach is to scare voters into supporting her to keep Trump out, while Trump has continued to hammer the message that she represents the disastrous status quo and talks of jobs and improving the economy instead.
TRUMP STRONG ON ISSUES, LESS SO ON IMAGE
Both Trump and Clinton have formidable political talents, but throughout the campaign they have both repeatedly been their own worst enemies.
Trump has offered a far more restrained and responsible foreign policy for the United States than the policies of regime change and endless wars pursued by Clinton.
Despite repeated accusations of demagoguery, Trump has held fast consistently to more restrained and often controversial positions like wanting to cooperate with Russia in fighting the Islamic State, and to avoid the danger of conflict with Russia in Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe and elsewhere.
Trump’s successful record as a billionaire businessman in the US construction, hotel and entertainment industries have given him a grasp of economic issues that far outstrip Clinton’s.
However, Trump has suffered from his propensity to get into personal rows with often obscure individuals for minor reasons.
The Democrats also appear to have orchestrated a series of well publicized attacks on Trump’s character to deflect attention from the highly documented accusations of repeated rapes and cover-up against Clinton’s husband Bill Clinton as well as alleged fraud conducted via the Clinton Foundation.
Candidate Clinton is also on the record as having systematically and publicly attacking and seeking to discredit the victims of these assaults.
Trump’s greatest burden is not his policies, but his lack of perceived “gravitas” or public dignity.
TRUMP BATTLES UNPRECEDENTED US MEDIA BIAS
Trump also has faced massive and continuing bias against him from the mainstream US media, which is now almost totally controlled outright by gigantic corporate interests and revealed by WikiLeaks and other sources to be in almost complete collusion with the Clinton campaign.
Disney owns ABC, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim owns the New York Times and Amazon.com mogul Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post — all of them opponents of Trump.
Leaked emails provided by WikiLeaks have shown CNN employee Dona Brazille leaking questions as well as answers for the presidential debates to Clinton. Moreover, at least 38 mainstream media reporters and anchors have been shown to have colluded with the Clinton campaign.
Trump has proposed a far-reaching code of ethics to end the domination of the US federal political system in Washington by special interests, including term limits for members of Congress. That alone guarantees the fierce hostility of the US media and Washington insider establishment against him.
However, Clinton carries much negative baggage too and almost all of it is self-inflicted.
SERVER, EMAIL CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS STILL HOUND CLINTON
Clinton at first ignored the growing criticism over her use of an unauthorized private email server for four years as secretary of state. Sanders refused to use it as a campaign issue against her — showing both naiveté and poor political judgment.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted a criminal investigation of Clinton in July of whether she intended to violate US law by using a unsecure private server for official business while secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. FBI Director James Comey said the agency found Clinton and her aides had communicated classified information but he did not propose criminal charges against her.
However, on October 28 Comey announced he had reopened the investigation following the discovery of a previously unsuspected cache of 650,000 e-mails, some of which Clinton related. They emails were saved on the computer of Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton’s closest aide Huma Abedin.
On November 6, two days before the election, Comey announced, that the FBI had reviewed the emails and its stands by its July decision not to criminally charge Clinton, causing an uproar among Trump supporters and others about a possible diversion and cover up of Clinton’s alleged crimes.
Clinton has also been hurt by serious allegations concerning the operation of the Clinton Foundation, which has raised at least $2 billion for important causes, but has never adequately accounted for almost all of them.
At least $6 billion — estimates go as high as $14billion — was raised to help the impoverished people of Haiti through the Foundation’s efforts after the disastrous 2010 earthquake that killed at least half a million people in that country. But almost none of those funds appear to have reached the people of Haiti they were intended for.
Moreover, Clinton has suffered from her quarter-century of national power, influence and prominence as successively First Lady, senator from New York State and secretary of state running US foreign policy. Her list of documented achievements from that unprecedented run is almost non-existent, reducing her to claiming that she has acquired the necessary undefined “experience” to be US president.
Two more national candidates sought to take advantage of the enormous credibility and trust issues surrounding both Clinton and Trump. But Jill Stein of the Green Party and particularly Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson both have flamed out and lack any serious credibility.
STEIN, JOHNSON FAIL AS CREDIBLE CONTENDERS
Stein may have turned some of her potential supporters away from Clinton and to Trump saying he was a safer bet to avoid the threat of nuclear war with Russia and China.
Clinton had repeatedly accused Russia of hacking Democratic Party and US election systems, and has called for cyber, political and military response to such cyberattacks. Moreover, Clinton has reasserted her demand for a No-Fly-Zone in Syria, which general Joseph Dunford had said would mean going to war with Russia and Syria.
But, Stein has been denied any national platform and has failed to generate greater enthusiasm on the campaign trail as she appears to have reached around 3-4 percent of voter support.
Johnson became a national laughing stock when he was asked a question about the fierce Syrian civil war struggle over the city of Aleppo, and he did not even know that Aleppo was a city. His support, which peaked around 12 percent, is now down to 4.5 percent.
Clinton and the Democrats will be seeking to turnout as many minority voters as possible. Republicans have charged that the Democrats will be trying to flood the polls with unregistered voters, especially in southwestern states like California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Democrats countercharge that many Republican-controlled state governments and legislatures have tried to take advantage of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in the Shelby County versus Holder case that gutted provisions to protect poor and minority voting rights enshrined in the 1965 Voters Rights Act.
Pattern of early voting are showing far larger turnouts than usual. Both Trump and Clinton have claimed this pattern benefits them. Trump has benefitted from a much greater level of enthusiasm from his own voter base than Clinton has, but Clinton’s voter base may be much larger potentially.
The opinion poll data must be approached with caution, particularly those conducted by corporate media. Several US presidential elections, most notably Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 and Obama’s reelection over Mitt Romney in 2012, showed dramatic shifts of support to the winner in the days after polling had ended.
An unprecedented national election campaign that has confounded precedent and predictions at every turn looks certain to end with more surprises.