Breathe. It’s almost over.
By now you’ve probably noticed that the election process in the US is absolutely interminable. We stretch these things out well past the point of reason — we’re coming up on 15 months after Trump descended on his escalator and declared himself a candidate.
Finally, we have around eight weeks to go, and that means it’s probably time to take stock of how the candidates are doing and make some bold pronouncement about which one is likely White House-bound. Let’s take a look.
As I write this, Donald Trump is coming off a wave of publicity for visiting Mexico and meeting with President Peña Nieto. If that sounds like a strange turn of events for a man who has insisted from the first day of his campaign that Mexican immigrants are murderers and rapists, and they were going to be forced to pay for a wall to keep their own citizens out of the US, you’d be right. The media has rightfully excoriated Trump for stumping on down to Mexico and then returning home to give one of his most obnoxious speeches yet about the danger of folks who don’t look quite like us.
In CNN’s latest “poll of polls,” Trump is still taking a backseat to Clinton, but he has cut her lead in half. Clinton emerged from the Democratic National Convention with a bounce in her step and soaring positions in the polls, but Trump has shown that all he really has to do is be himself to eat away at her safety margin.
Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight puts Trump’s chance of winning at 27.9%.
Robert Reich, erstwhile Labor Secretary for President Bill Clinton, and now a vocal standard-bearer for the progressive branch of the Democratic Party, is confident Hillary could win by a landslide in November, and this would by and large be a good thing. However, he warns that even a Clinton victory won’t silence the most noxious and violent ranks of Trump followers. They’re here to stay, he says, and they are already primed for the next demagogue who will inevitably rise from the ashes of the GOP.
If Trump seems to be doing all he can to cement his brand as blowhard-in-chief, Clinton is pretty much just coasting at this point. She has the name recognition and the grudging approval of even some of the most steadfast Sanders supporters, who are ready to vote for the Lesser Evil.
She also hasn’t given a press conference in 273 days, which says quite a lot about her. She clearly doesn’t want for confidence, but she must know by now just how thin the ice is that she’s skating on. Members of the press have a nasty habit of asking Clinton for straightforward answers about her email practices, or about how the Clinton Foundation launders money.
Why risk uncomfortable situations this close to the election if you don’t have to? All Clinton really has going for her at this point is momentum — that, and her new rallying cry: At least I’m not Trump.
FiveThirtyEight puts Clinton’s chances of winning at 72.1%.
The Continuing Adventures of the So-Called “Third-Parties”
Why “so-called”? Because 43% of Americans self-identify as politically unaffiliated.
Yes — in the topsy-turvy land we call America, first-past-the-post voting and winner-takes-all elections conspire every four years to whittle our 28 political parties to just two, ensuring third-party candidates never see the light of day in Presidential debates — and sometimes don’t even make it onto state ballots.
The Commission on Presidential Debates, which is jointly run by the DNC and RNC, has set a largely arbitrary requirement of 15% in national polling to qualify for the debates. Under these terms, neither Jill Stein of the Green Party nor Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party will qualify for any of the three scheduled debates. Both of these parties have also tried and failed to sue for inclusion. It seems they’re destined to sit on the sidelines, as they have pretty much since time immemorial.
A bit of good news here, though. While we’re not going to see a third-party candidate behind the Big Desk for quite some time, 2016 may yet be a breakthrough year for them. The Democratic and Republican parties both enjoy the privilege of Federal election funding — a privilege available to any third party that earns 5% of the national vote in the General election. Even if they don’t make the debates, then, there’s a decent chance one or both of these nearly viable third-parties could finally reach that important benchmark in November.
In other words, if the thought of voting for Trump or Hillary disgusts you, and you were planning on staying home in November, do something useful with your vote instead and give it to one of these “alternative” candidates. Remember: The only wasted vote is the one not cast.
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