A new kind of race


I’m reading various polls and pundits who say Hillary is still ahead of Trump. The margins are fluctuating, and getting scarily closer, but she’s still ahead. And we trust these results, because they’re not just one poll, they’re conclusions reached by analyzing several polls, comparing their methodology to the accuracy of their results in the past, and accounting for known biases. They’re just about as scientific as you can make them.

Except for one thing: they’re measuring the way politics used to work. You get a huge political machine built, you organize your ground forces, and of course you secure a huge cash reserve to spend on media and other campaign expenses. The best machine wins, just like the best machine has always won, and you can predict the outcome of the race by measuring the efficiency of the machine.

Only Trump isn’t building a machine. Pundits and pollsters are gawking at him with bemused contempt wondering when—or if—he’s ever going to get around to running a real campaign.

And he’s within a few points of Hillary anyway. It’s like he’s entering the Indianapolis 500 on foot, and keeping up.

That should scare the hell out of the pundits. I don’t think they’re quite grasping the nature of what they’re seeing. If he’s keeping up, and he’s on foot, then this isn’t an Indianapolis 500 style race. And that means it isn’t necessarily going to be won by the most powerful and efficient machine.

I think what’s going on is that Trump, with his reckless, feckless, unpredictable behavior, has established himself as the first true None Of The Above candidates we’ve ever seen. We, as a nation of both liberals and conservatives, have lost faith in suave, polished glitzocrats and their retinue of handlers and focus groups and marketing know-how. We’re tired of well-funded manipulators treating their electorates like putty to be pushed and prodded and molded according to well-documented sociological techniques. Even die-hard right-wingers, who still respond predictably (and regrettably) to demagoguery, are unhappy with it.

When Trump defies conventional political wisdom, when he does “stupid” things that make experienced politicians roll their eyes in disbelief, he’s putting himself outside their cozy cabal. And that’s what makes him so appealing to his supporters. They probably can’t articulate it, and probably don’t even see it that way themselves, but I think that’s the underlying appeal.

That’s why I view predictions of Trump’s defeat with the same grain of salt I view (in hindsight) the experts who predicted Bremain would win handily. I think they’re all failing to recognize that politics in 2016 isn’t politics as usual. It’s changed drastically since 2012, and I don’t think they’re taking that into account.

Comments

    • StevoR says

      Informal – effectively not vote at all. Or vote for Jill Stein Greens or someone else other than Hillary Clinton – Problem is that in the two horse race with no preferential voting system that you have in the States all those are effectively votes FOR Trump.

      So basically, no. Not unless you want to risk Trump getting the highest office in the USA, the ability to appoint SCOTUS justices and his hands on the nuclear codes.

      Please for pity’s sakes Americans vote wisely – vote Hillary Clinton for POTUS.

  1. says

    The lead parties and candidates never had to invest any money in winning. Most people already decided who was going to win long ago. The money being spent is just waste and Clinton and those who support her are fear-mongers too terrified to risk not wasting money. This is not to say that Drumpf understands that fact. He only won because the Republicans as a whole expected to lose, and if you expect to lose there’s no point wasting your time and money. For Drumpf personally, standing in front of cheering crowds is its own reward. If he actually won it would just seem like gravy until he had to actually do work which he probably wouldn’t be able to do. What we should expect if Drumpf actually won is complete unpreparedness, chaos, stock markets going crazy at the thought of persistent uncertainty, not nuclear war or whatever the paranoid Clinton supporters imagine. The funny thing is how Congress has been operating exactly like this for years yet no one cared because of Obama. So very few people understand how government works or whether it’s working or not. Anyone whining about the open seat on the Supreme Court is an example of that ignorance. The Supreme Court has been just as dysfunctional as Congress for just as long.

  2. John Morales says

    When Trump defies conventional political wisdom, when he does “stupid” things that make experienced politicians roll their eyes in disbelief, he’s putting himself outside their cozy cabal. And that’s what makes him so appealing to his supporters. They probably can’t articulate it, and probably don’t even see it that way themselves, but I think that’s the underlying appeal.

    Hard to dispute that.

    However, there’s a reason experienced politicians do things the way they do them — it generally works.

    That’s why I view predictions of Trump’s defeat with the same grain of salt I view (in hindsight) the experts who predicted Bremain would win handily. I think they’re all failing to recognize that politics in 2016 isn’t politics as usual. It’s changed drastically since 2012, and I don’t think they’re taking that into account.

    The experts predicted a small win, not a handy one.

    It’s one thing to claim experts got it wrong, another to claim they don’t recognise drastic changes.

  3. says

    Elections are not decided by politicians or experts. People have a sense of who’s going to win if there will be a clear winner, and collectively shift the outcome if they don’t like where it’s going. Clinton came in with a clear head start and clear path to victory. Lots of people saw that and didn’t like it. Her clear victory has been eroded by the electorate, not her opposition.

  4. sonofrojblake says

    This is comparable to, but worse than, George Bush’s administration contrasting themselves with those of us in “the reality-based community”. We’re living in an era of post-fact politics. The electorate – by which I mean the voting public in what’s starting to look like most democracies – aren’t interested in facts. Michael Gove recognised this when he felt able to say, with a straight face, that the public had “had enough of experts”.

    Trump is the ultimate post-fact politician, which is why he’ll win.

  5. says

    Politics has never been about facts and never will be. The only real possibility for Trump to win is if a majority of people believe he will win and also don’t feel compelled to stop it. Since quite a lot of people do feel compelled to stop it, this limits his real chances. In contrast with Clinton, while a lot of Democrats don’t want her to win, very few actually feel compelled to support Trump just so she won’t win. And most importantly, Trump genuinely shows that he doesn’t care that much about actually being president, he just wants to play the game and win for its own sake, so even amongst Republicans, they don’t feel strongly that he should win, especially evangelicals. In their own words, the party is putting lipstick on a pig, making the Protestant Pope out of a man who is religiously ignorant.

  6. says

    Tige Gibson@#3:
    The money being spent is just waste

    It puts the money back in circulation and employs lots of media drones and marketing people. So it’s valuable for the economy. Think of it as “the tax money rich assholes like the Koch Brothers would have paid except they didn’t.”

  7. brucegee1962 says

    Yes, and thanks to the silly electoral college, it’s funneling money out of boring red and blue states and into my exciting purple state. Thanks, rest of America!

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