The election is Hillary’s to lose

Does Donald Trump really have a chance to win the Presidential election in November? It is – still – improbable but it is not impossible. Both Hillary Clinton and Trump have such high negatives that I suspect this is becoming an election which will be lost by someone rather than be won by anyone.

It is not difficult to imagine blunders by Trump which can increase his negatives. His support is driven by attacks on him perceived to be from the “establishment”. His negatives could multiply quite easily to make him unelectable.

But what could Hillary Clinton do that would increase her negatives? I can think of the following:

  1. Choosing another woman as her VP pick. An all woman ticket will win some but will probably lose more. More importantly it may lose her more support among traditional Democratic, blue collar, and minority groups. Muslims and some of the other ethnic groups who are now for Clinton, would have second thoughts if it was an all-woman ticket.
  2. Go too soft on immigration. Legal immigrants are not at all keen on the too-easy rationalisation and ratification of the status of illegal immigrants. It devalues the effort and hardships they have had to endure and overcome. The problem for Clinton would be that even a small defection – or even abstention – of her assumed “captive voters” could have a major impact on her vote.
  3. No message for the young. Bernie Sanders has enthused some of the young in a way that is alien to Hillary. With no clear message for the young beyond the usual cliches, she could see a large abstention of the millennials. The young voting surge seen in 2008 has peaked and is already on the way down. A lack of any clear and uplifting message would only exacerbate this trend.
  4. Clinton is indicted for emails or Libya or something. Many of Clinton’s negatives are based on her perceived dishonesty and deviousness. A formal indictment will only cement such perceptions and – if serious enough – could even make her unelectable.
  5. Revelations that Hillary “allowed” or “covered-up” Bill’s sexual transgressions. Hillary is already on shaky ground when it comes to her “feminist” credentials. If it is perceived that she actually helped Bill in his predatory behaviour with young women, then she could lose all her support from Republican women voters and and a good chunk of her Democratic female support.
  6. Revelations that the State Department under Hillary actively supported the groups that have now become ISIS. To some extent this is already “out there”. But memos or the like linking, first, US support for these extreme groups in Syria and second, those groups with what is now ISIS, could be debilitating in its own right. It could also provide Trump with some serious ammunition.

It is difficult to see either Clinton or Trump coming with positive messages which command enthusiasm and which can mobilise the electorate in their support. It is quite possible to see them alienate further groups and increase their own negative perceptions such that they mobilise voters only against themselves (#stoptrump or #stopclinton).

It is still a long way to November but it is an election that will, I think, be lost by someone.


 

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