Heading to the polls

On the day of the US election Rhodri ab Owen reports on the final days of the campaign.

As millions of Americans today head to the polls, this terribly ugly election cycle has left the country bitterly divided. In Trump and Clinton, the US is effectively left to choose between two polarizing candidates, with record breaking unfavourable ratings. You’ll find little common ground between the supporters of both candidates, other than the fact they can’t wait for the election cycle to be over, moaning that this soap opera has dominated their lives for the past eighteen months.

So who will win today? At the end of October, Hillary Clinton was riding high in the polls and her lifelong ambition was firmly within her grasp. Swing state polls showed her ahead, while polls in deep red states such as Texas and Alaska saw her within striking distance. Hillary was due to win and win big.

Then came the October surprise in the form of a letter from FBI Director, James Comey which reopened the investigation into the former Secretary of State’s use of a private server. The impact of this letter was instantaneous with battleground polls tightening across the country and for the first time since the Democratic National Convention in the summer, Trump overtook Clinton in the national polls. Democrats started to panic and the nervousness is obvious to see amongst rank and file supporters, with many pointing towards Brexit, starting to wonder if the unthinkable might just happen here.

Does this all mean that Trump will be moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue come January? Of course it is possible for Trump to win today but his path to the White House by gaining those all-important 270 electoral college votes is far narrower than Hillary Clinton’s route. Based on the states leaning or solidly in Clinton’s camp, Donald Trump has to win all of the swing states up for grabs today, whilst Hillary could still become the first female president, even if she lost key states such as Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, North Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire to Trump. Going into polling day, Clinton is still the clear front runner and state-wide polling shows her clearly topping 270, even though the nationwide polls and media pundits are indicating something different. She’s starting today looking to pick up 20 electoral college votes to top 270, whilst Trump on the other hand will be looking for 150.

When it comes to the nationwide polls, which has caused so much concern for Democrats over the past week, it is worth noting that in 2012 on the eve of the election, US-wide polls had Mitt Romney ahead or tied to the President, but Obama went on to win a decisive victory. Why? Because the Democrats had worked hard on targeting wavering and undecided voters in key battleground states and ensured that their supporters got out and voted.

Whilst visiting the two battleground states of Virginia and Pennsylvania this past week, it was obvious to see that Clinton has two big advantageous over Trump – money and resource. To begin with, the ground operation Clinton has is impressive and will be vitally important in ensuring people cast their ballots today, whilst Trump has been reluctant to hire staff and open offices. Building on Obama’s success in 2012, the Democrats and the Clinton camp have spent money on sophisticated software which focusses on undecided voters in a dozen or so swing states in a targeted manner. Trump on the other hand has said he’s not interested in data and has not made the same investment. Hillary has clearly also outmanoeuvred Trump when it comes to fundraising, raising a $1billion this election cycle, whilst Trump didn’t even start fundraising until May.

All this gives Hillary Clinton a serious advantage today. The media might like to portray this election as close and tight, but given Clinton already has around 256 electoral college vote chalked up in her column, it is difficult not to see a Clinton back in the White House in January.  

The release of the second Comey statement has also certainly boosted the former Secretary of State’s campaign in the final 48 hours. At the eve of the poll rally in Philadelphia last night, Clinton supporters were fired up by Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, before the Clintons and Obamas came on stage. As Democrats watched the two power couples of the party together, they were confident that both presidents number 42 and 44 were on stage, but also 45th US President.

Rhodri ab Owen is Head of Monitoring for Positif. He is currently on the campaign trail in Washington DC.

6 thoughts on “Heading to the polls

  1. Although this comment could prove embarrassingly wrong before it is even posted, those of us who have been following the state by state polls have never been in any serious doubt that Mrs Clinton will win by a substantial margin in the Electoral College, if not necessarily in the popular vote.

    The real question is what happens then? As Mr Trump sinks into well-deserved insignificance, the forces that made him will remain – and will probably grow stronger.

    The most significant of these is the problem that is also manifest here, not least in the EU Referendum, the growing gap between rulers and ruled.

    We need new leaders to bridge that gap. Mrs Clinton is most unlikely to prove such a leader. Indeed, the irony of Mr Trump’s legacy is that, in nominating an ‘anti-Establishment’ candidate, the GOP secured the election of the ultimate Establishment insider.

  2. “Progressive” or mildly left-wing politics in the US and the UK was based on a coalition of statists representing the immediate economic interests of the working class and social reformers of liberal bent. With the loss of faith in collectivist economic policies the economic bit of the coalition became nebulous as Clintonites and Blairites sought to gain the trust of big business and the media they financed. It was done with good intentions, no doubt, but the effort to civilize capitalism and bend it to the public purpose was not notably successful as globalisation increased inequality in developed countries. The social liberal part of the coalition had never been all that popular with the working class anyway, many of whom are socially conservative, not keen on too much “diversity”. The result is that the coalition has broken down, social democrat parties have lost support and are in retreat everywhere.

    While libertarian conservatives like JWR might welcome that development it could eventually impale them on the horns of a dilemma: either an FDR figure arises to restore the faith of the masses in state action to improve their lives, restoring collectivist democratic politics, or there will be a move to the reactionary populism represented by Trump and substantial elements of UKIP with its faintly fascistic undertones. Neither would be welcome to civilized conservatives. In Wales, I suppose there is also the Scottish solution of a rise of separatist nationalism but that seems less likely and JWR would not like it any better anyway.

  3. Well another ‘expert’ has got it wrong as the PEOPLE have voted between two very polarised politicians in a way that the ‘elite’ do not like at all. This result from America,and following on the Brexit vote in the UK clearly shows there is a massive gap between the ‘elite’ of all categories and the ordinary people in the English speaking world,and one looks forward to the European ‘elite’ getting a good kicking from its electorate.If we in Wales were given a simple chance to vote on current structure of WAG and the massive public sector expenses on non-jobs, and also welsh language ‘industry’ etc etc it is my view that the ‘discontents’ would have it and the huge savings made in public expenditure could be redirected towards front line services. The ‘little’ people,like myself cannot be trusted too much as the ‘elite’ will seek to protect their position at all costs.

  4. I called it for Trump weeks ago – the Clinton globalist cabal have so many skeletons in their cupboard, and dangerous plans for the world, but it took Wikileaks and the honourable side of the media to make it obvious to enough voters in the last few weeks. But the worst part was the usual busted-flush loony left commentariat employed by the left-leaning media and the broken pollsters packed with left-leaning whingers on the tax-payer funded gravy grain. The polls are looking more broken than ever these days – as far as I can make out the only pollster that called it for Trump was the only pollster that called it right for BREXIT. Increasingly it looks like polling is being used as push-polling – designed to influence the outcomes not to predict the outcomes. This should worry everybody but it doesn’t because too many people think it’s OK.

    The moral is simple and increasingly important – people who believe broken computer models processing skewed data are fools, often dangerous fools. Look at this prediction graph for the US election and either laugh or cry.


    I’m laughing!

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