The most frequent 2016 election narrative is ‘none of the above’
Mississippi’s six electoral votes are – by virtually all polls – being counted rather safely in the fold of Republican nominee Donald Trump. Trump’s campaign interest in Mississippi has far exceeded that of his Democratic opponent and Mississippi has since 1976 been a reliably “red” state.
In other words, heading into the fall stretch run in presidential politics in Mississippi, there are no visible surprises. Republicans control the state legislature, seven of eight statewide offices, and five of the state’s six U.S. House and Senate seats and seem on cruise control to win the state’s presidential popular vote and electoral votes in 2016.
But nationally, the presidential polls are tightening significantly. From the rather wide electoral vote lead and adequate popular vote lead projected for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton just weeks ago, the race is today projected to be a popular vote dead heat and an electoral vote lead for Clinton that is anything but certain.
The movement in the race over the last three weeks has been almost audible. Clinton’s numbers are dropping while Trump’s are rising. Key “swing states” like Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Iowa and even Nevada are loving into Trump’s column.
While Clinton has enjoyed period of real dominance in electoral vote projections – both before and after the national party conventions, the last month – marked by media attention on Clinton’s health and increased terrorism activity – has seen a dramatic rise in Trump’s political fortunes.
The latest Real Clear Politics (RCP) electoral map — with no toss-up states — forecasts an electoral landslide win for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The current projection is 301 votes for Clinton and 237 for GOP opponent Donald Trump – giving Clinton a 31 electoral vote margin.
In the popular vote, RCP gives Clinton a 45.3 percent edge over Trump’s 44 percent.
With toss-ups, the RCP forecast is that Clinton currently has 200 electoral votes to 164 for Trump, leaving Clinton 70 votes shy of the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the White House.
Nate Silver over at fivethirtyeight.com currently shows Clinton with 281.3 electoral votes to 256.4 electoral votes for Trump. Or expressed another way, FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a 56.3 percent chance of winning the election to Trump’s 43.7 percent. Silver gives Clinton 46.3 percent of the popular vote and Trump 44.6 percent.
That’s what the numbers say. But in anecdotal exchanges, the most frequent conversations I encounter are with moderate voters who are struggling with enthusiasm and intensity of support for the candidates bearing the standards of the parties those voters are usually predisposed to support.
At a recent luncheon, one lifelong Republican answered my question regarding the outcome of the national race this way: “Who’s going to win? In this election, nobody’s going to win.” Then, he went on to explain that he was leaning toward voting a straight Republican ticket – but skipping the presidential race.
In another encounter with a younger Democratic voter, she expressed her lingering disappointment over what she considered to be her party’s refusal to incorporate policies espoused by Bernie Sanders into the party platform and said that she was also considering supporting her party in every way except voting in the presidential race.
The bottom line is that both the crunched polling and projection numbers and unscientific street talk underscore the fact that there’s about a ten percent block of voters out there who are feeling pretty headstrong about voting “none of the above” in the presidential race.
In just over six weeks, this interminable election will be over. The bookies – yes, there are betting odds on presidential elections – still favor Clinton. But in this strangest of elections, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about just what that “none of the above” crowd in both parties will or won’t do – and whether some will at the bitter end hold their noses and support the nominees of their parties.
Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.