New mood over US election makes you wonder : is this a good thing?

Oct 24th, 2016 | By | Category: In Brief

Singer Katy Perry speaks at a rally in support of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher).

[UPDATED OCTOBER 25]. The big worry about the 2016 US election now is that (once again?) the forces of progress are growing too complacent and/or triumphalistic.

Two of the last five national polls on both the Real Clear Politics and  Five Thirty Eight sites have Trump tied or slightly ahead. Even the more impressionistic TV reporting seems clear that he has a hard core of popular support which remains loyal regardless of his sins.

An October 23 Associated Press report nonetheless says that Hillary Clinton “doesn’t ‘even think about responding’ to Donald Trump anymore.” She will “instead spend the final weeks on the road ‘emphasizing the importance of electing Democrats down the ballot.’”

As the AP report wisely goes on : “After a merciless two-year campaign, the next president will face the daunting task of governing a bitterly divided nation. If Clinton wins, her prospects for achieving her goals will be greatly diminished unless her victory is accompanied by major Democratic gains in Congress.”

Bill and Hillary Clinton celebrate Democratic runoff victory, on his way to becoming governor of Arkansas in 1982. Photo: AP.

The impression you get generally from the media – sustained by the current polling averages (RCP : Clinton 47.9%, Trump 42.0% ; 538 : Clinton 49.6%, Trump 43.2% ) – is of course that Hillary is quite solidly ahead, with not much more than two weeks to go.

But she still isn’t so much ahead as to avoid “the daunting task of governing a bitterly divided nation.” And it is still far from clear that the Republican party is going to fall apart on November 8, to anything like the extent now intermittently contemplated on MSNBC and even CNN (or the Clinton News Network, as some eminent Republican has claimed  : I forget just who).

At this last stage of the campaign, I also think Ms Clinton has done considerably better than I used to worry she might do. And I am still praying that at least some slight “new mood of democratic bipartisan co-operation” will “rise from the ashes of Donald Trump?”

Yet an honest political scientist would still not want to jump to any conclusions.

Donald Trump with porn star Jessica Drake in 2006. Photograph: Handout/Gloria Allred.

I have friends who say the 2016 US election has almost become boring, because it has finally become clear that Donald Trump will not win. Happily for world history, America at large is still not quite that crazy, and so forth.

To me, the smart money is still saying maybe, maybe not. And even if Hillary does win, will she win by a big enough margin (and far enough down the ticket) to get anything seriously done in 2017, 2018, and beyond? Finding the real answers to these kinds of questions at last is still what will be making the night of November 8, 2016 a scary fascination on TV – and an excuse to eat too much unhealthy food, and drink too much tap water on the rocks. (UPDATE OCTOBER 25 : Meanwhile, if you are really worried about the progressive cause, try Éric Grenier’s latest survey for CBC News : “Polls favourable to Donald Trump may be overestimating his support, state polls suggest.”)

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