Nah, Hillary’s Doing Great

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I haven’t done any election blogging yet, and I don’t plan to do much more, but here’s a tidbit. Fabio Rojas believes that Hillary Clinton may (may) have a difficult time against Trump:

  1. According to decades of political science research, incumbent parties do well if the economy is doing well. Unemployment is low and GDP is positive, though modest. We also have few casualties in foreign wars. And Trump has really, really bad negative ratings. Conclusion: Hillary Clinton will win.

  2. The bungler – Hillary Clinton is not a very effective campaigner. Her infamous campaign of 2008 was bankrupt and chaotic. She lost to a first term Senator with no name recognition. In 2016, she’s pulling ties in big states against a geriatric commie after spending hundreds of millions. One can imagine her losing the entire South, maybe even Florida, and some how screwing up a big Midwestern state. That would be enough for a Trump win. This is similar to Gore winning the popular vote in 2000 and screwing up by losing his *home state* of Tennessee.

In addition to Rojas’s #1 (which is definitely true, and still very important) the map is actually way better for HRC than that, for a few reasons.

HRC’s biggest weakness — her huge (“yuge”?) negatives — are not that big of a deal against Trump, because his are even bigger. Trump is doing really poorly with Hispanic voters, and there aren’t as many whites (proportionally) as there used to be. This means that any Republican’s path is harder, but Trump has made his path about as hard as it can be by antagonizing the one demographic group that the GOP has been hoping to appeal to. You can play around with a demographics toy here, but the gist is that Trump is screwed if any whites stay home or if minorities (especially Hispanics) turn out against him. Frankly, both seem likely. The National Review is tearing itself apart over Trump, and while the activists in the GOP make a lot of noise ultimately there aren’t enough of them to win presidential elections.

Meanwhile, HRC is quietly doing very well in the primary: more votes than Trump despite depressed turnout in the Dem primaries and enhanced turnout in the GOP primaries, a far greater proportion of the overall party vote (and delegates) and she is trouncing Bernie even before superdelegates are counted. You can click around various raw counts here, but the gist is that this campaign has been great for HRC. Unlike Trump her party actually likes her, and there is just no evidence that people don’t want to vote for her en masse.

I hate election narratives so much, but let’s be real here: if the starting point of this campaign wasn’t “it’s HRC’s turn everyone else out of the way” then the story today would be that she is crushing her opponents. She has received something like 40% more votes than Sanders. She has spent less money per vote than Sanders. She has raised more many than any other candidate too. Despite low turnout in Democratic primaries and huge (“yuge”?) turnout in the GOP primaries she has so far received about 15% more votes than Trump.

As Rojas notes, this is a pretty good year for Democrats anyway. Given all of the above HRC could be looking at a landslide win. It’s far too soon to call that, and lots of things can happen in between now and then. The second-worst thing* for HRC is what appears to be happening: Sanders sabotaging her campaign by staying in too long, while the hyperbolic rhetoric his campaign has employed this entire season dissuades natural HRC supporters from backing her. There is still time for this to be reversed but there is no doubt that Sanders’ continued campaigning is, at this point, doing damage to the causes he supposedly avers.

But despite that HRC ought to be able to get out the vote in opposition to Trump. I have some friends who are Sanders fans and will not vote for HRC because #principles. I understand that. I hate the Clinton machine too, and I despise political dynasties generally. But a lot of people either like her a lot or find her generally unoffensive, and a lot of other people will be happy to vote against Trump (or, in the GOP, not vote at all). At this point she is, for me, a 70-30 or even 75-25 favorite. It’s hard to find better odds than that in a two-party general election.

I’m not going to lie: I underestimated Trump for months so all of this could be wrong. But I’ve not underestimated him to this magnitude; the guy still doesn’t have the majority support of his own party, unlike HRC. And if it is wrong then quite a lot of other things that we think we know about the world will also be wrong. If all of those things are simultaneously wrong then whoever is president might be one of our smallest problems.

*The worst thing would be for her to be indicted while a brokered GOP convention nominates Romney or Ryan, while the Federal Reserve destroys economic growth for fear of inflation and Obama invades Iran. But that sequence seems pretty unlikely.

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