From The Donald to the President
1) Bradley Effect
The Bradley Effect explains the phenomenon associated with electoral races resulting in outcomes that are contrary to what voters tell pollsters leading up to the election. The theory is named after Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley who polled significantly ahead of his Republican rival George Deukmejian in the 1982 California gubernatorial election.
The following excerpt is from Jon Perr’s Trump Campaign Hopes For Reverse ‘Bradley Effect,’ published on the Daily Kos: “Post-election analysis showed that white voters had cast ballots for Bradley in far smaller numbers than polling suggested. Meanwhile, the votes of the avowed “undecideds” fell in a cascading wave for Deukmejian.”
Community sentiment based on poll data informs us that Sec. Clinton is emerging as the prohibitive favorite to win the election. She has substantially more experience in public service. In addition to working with the Children’s Defense Fund fighting discrimination, Clinton has served as First Lady of Arkansas where she fought for health care rights, First Lady of the U.S. where she fought for children and women’s rights, U.S. Senator where she fought for 9/11 victims, and Secretary of State where she negotiated several peace treaties and a historic deal with Iran preventing their nuclear program from building a weapon. Her public service record is extensive and impressive. Her record and pre-election likeability contributed to her leading in national polls from the outset. But the polls conventional evaluation markers are flawed for one main reason — Trump is an unconventional candidate.
Nothing about Trump’s demeanor, background, or speech would ordinarily qualify him for the highest office. But his lack of eloquence or tact is perceived as authenticity. Due to a growing expectation for Clinton to finally ‘shatter the glass ceiling’ for women serving in our nation’s highest office, polling likely does not represent the true voting intentions of those polled.
Trump and Clinton are highly polarizing figures. However, on balance, Trump receives more scrutiny for his rhetoric and actions. This heightened scrutiny (often perceived as anti-Trump bias) is going to factor into this election in the form of mistaken social desirability bias.
Many voters have been compelled to repress closely held political views in efforts to avoid being ostracized within their communities. The harsh reality is, we live in one of the most polarized political eras in U.S. history. Thus, people are less willing to publicly admit their intention to support a person largely considered a maniacally self-absorbed, sexual predator who consistently proves himself devoid of impulse control. As a result, the true number of Trump supporters will not be fully manifest till Election Day.
No matter how inexperienced and ignorant of geopolitics, Trump’s ‘tough on terror’ message resonates with people who fear an imminent attack on U.S. soil. As ISIS grows and their attacks worsen, an increasing number of U.S. citizens lose faith in the federal government’s ability to protect them. Thus, crude pronouncements of facilitating “law and order” and ‘bombing the sh — out of them’ amounts to convincing rhetoric, to less sophisticated constituents.
In a country with über relaxed gun laws like the U.S., gun violence tragedies seldom sway public opinion. Sadly, gun violence remains so prevalent in the U.S. that folks ignore its existence. From the lack of public outrage in response to this epidemic taking an average of 30,000 lives per year, one would assume that gun violence is a non-issue. Though turning a blind eye to gun violence does nothing to minimize the threat, it does manipulate society’s perception of what is and what is not a threat.
Politicians and others serving a political agenda sensationalize explosive attacks. But attacks on U.S. soil that derived from foreign terror organizations are uncommon. The infrequency of these attacks should lower their place in U.S. hierarchal prioritization. Foreign terrorists have successfully fulfilled just one mission on U.S. soil and that was fifteen years ago. Since then, homegrown attackers perpetrated every terroristic attack on U.S. soil.
Regardless, Trump has wisely helped to stoke fear of Muslims and even promised to prevent them from entering the country early in his campaign. This before his advisors redirected his messaging due to the constitutional safeguards prohibiting such restrictions.
Fear is the most highly effective motivator. To his credit, Trump mastered the art of playing on people’s fears to gain a political advantage this election. He has targeted very specific issues in certain demographics and elicited a visceral reaction from that targeted group. When he falsely tells a crowd that already fears Mexican-Americans, that Mexicans frequently commit violent atrocities, it generated a dangerous fear that eventually encouraged widespread vigilantism.
Facts are not relevant as a response to fear. This reality allows Trump to spew nonsensical, tabloid-worthy assertions regarding criminal justice that further divides law enforcement and the communities they are supposed to serve. Facts inform us that violent crime has seen a steady reduction over time. Despite this fact, Trump claims the reverse is true and is largely credited for injecting falsehoods into a highly substantive policy arena
Trump’s plays on fear by instructing people to surveil their brown-skinned neighbors, creating an inherent bias against people of color.
4) Fascination With the Unknown
The devil you know may not be better than the devil you don’t. “We need a businessman in office” “We need somebody new” “We need a person who will shake up Washington” Ever heard these reasons for voting against the establishment? These widely held beliefs motivate voters to support perceived political outsiders. If the system needs an overhaul, voters sensitive to change are reluctant to support incumbents. That’s the nature of incumbency.
Regardless of the abundance of goodwill and prosperity to these voters, the only question that matters is, “Who can best redirect this country?” This age-old argument appears prime to finally become reality. A six-time bankrupt New York real estate developer has found himself just days away from claiming the highest office on the planet. Instead of endlessly pondering why, ask yourself why not.
In a political sense, Trump is new and shiny. Though he’s been in the public eye for many years, his celebrity did not originate in politics, but on the reality TV show “The Apprentice.” He promises to unilaterally fix every problem. Despite the impossibility of many of his pronouncements, uneducated Trump supporters believe he has a political genie in a bottle granting him unlimited wishes.
His brand of braggadocio has never been seen in a national campaign. Trump’s refusal to apply a basic filter gives him the advantage of appearing authentic. What Trump refers to as “political correctness” has been accepted as respectfulness till now. It is not politically correct to refrain from insulting people — it’s decent and expected, to maintain civility.
Since Trump has normalized offensive behavior, the lines of acceptable speech have dramatically blurred. The nickname “Teflon Don” has never been more fitting. During the course of this election, Trump accused immigrants from Mexico of being rapists and violent criminals who are mooching limited U.S. resources. He openly mocked a disabled reporter. He fat-shamed a former beauty queen. He blamed a wife for her husband’s infidelities. He was caught on video bragging about sexually assaulting women — Trump even pledged that his celebrity entitled him to assault unsuspecting women. He frequently insulted black voters during his pseudo outreach campaign claiming, “[black voters] walk outside to get shot,” and “should vote for him because they having nothing else to lose.” Trump’s campaign later clarified those remarks were specifically referencing blacks living in highly populated major cities with large minority populations.
With record high unfavorable ratings for both major party candidates, Trump’s populist appeal is not too far-fetched and his election should be expected more broadly.
5) Media Bias
Trump’s anti-intellectual campaign — rooted in attacking the media — has persuaded millions of people to distrust journalism and news organizations. Trump rally participants are instructed to peruse the Internet for information en lieu of reading newspapers or fact-based reports. For Trump, even tabloid publications like the National Enquirer receive higher reverence than internationally recognized news organizations like the Associated Press. Trump’s inability to accept criticism or scrutiny from the press causes him to lash out.
His thin-skinned nature is a poor quality, especially for a person seeking the presidency in a nation valuing free press. But with every gathering of low informed, under educated supporters, his personal battle with the media gains legitimacy. We learned during the Republican primary that the majority of folks that voted for him had a maximum of a high school diploma. Acknowledging the lack of education for Trump supporters is not intended to cast aspersions on low educational attainment, rather it is a way to explain their ignorance (perceived as apathy) of the truth.
Trump’s war on the media (our lone resource for exposing his demagoguery) has inspired aggression towards and threats of physical violence against journalists and other people working in media.
Folks influenced by Trump’s anti-media crusade believe any negative press he receives is the result of inherent corruption or a conspiracy to “steal the election” from him. Despite his inept campaign strategy, refusal to prepare for debates, inability to express contrition for wrongdoing even when LITERALLY CAUGHT ON TAPE, Trump can do no wrong in the eyes of his most ardent supporters. The term “Teflon Don” is more befitting Donald Trump than crime boss John Gotti for whom it was fashioned.
Race is the elephant in the room too often ignored in this election. After eight years of a black president, when a demagogue promised to remove Mexicans, Muslims and inferred he would control African-Americans by restoring “Law and Order,” private bigots were driven from their holes of secrecy to public pedestals where they proudly broadcast their hate. The intensity with which racial prejudice has entered this campaign was intentional.
White fragility propagated a boisterous manipulator who converted support from xenophobes into a national rally cry: Make America Great Again! The campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” or MAGA, inaccurately paints the United States as a failing, dystopian wasteland in need of dramatically new direction in order to avoid our pending demise. In actuality, MAGA is an overt attempt to deepen racial divisions in the U.S.
For most, the United States of America already is great. But for old white men (Trump’s largest block of supporters), the U.S. no longer resembles the less diverse, less progressive, less environmentally conscious, nation of their youth. The U.S. of past generations longed for by many Trump supporters had a government that advocated the oppression of black people.
Trump fully understood the fear whites living in rural America had of perceived outsiders that they seldom interacted with. When a person’s only exposure to people of color is negative anecdotal experiences of colleagues, perspective is dramatically skewed and unfairly biased.
People who are willfully ignorant of racial struggles in the U.S. were heartened by Obama’s dual election. But their appreciation for his accomplishments ended their belief in the need to further discuss issues of inequity and injustice.
Rather than speak directly to or with members of the black community, Donald Trump continues to patronize black people by speaking at them. Ironically Trump’s black “outreach” efforts have all occurred while the candidate addressed all white crowds. Trump’s lone speech to a majority black audience, ended abruptly when Trump disrespected the pastor and her church by making a political speech after agreeing to address the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. His outreach to the black community is laughable and very obviously a ploy to convince undecided white voters that he is concerned about people of color.
When discussing the dynamics of race in the 2016 election, it is vital to acknowledge Trump’s six-year birther crusade. Trump very publicly questioned the eligibility of President Obama based on conspiracy theories and wild conjecture intimating that Obama was born in Kenya. Endless records and eyewitness accounts of Obama’s Hawaiian birth did not satisfy the prejudice rampage. Trump wanted to delegitimize the first black president at all costs.
Whether Trump himself harbors racial animus is less relevant than whether he intentionally solicited the support of white supremacists. In addition, former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, admitted his motivation to pursue a seat on the U.S. Senate was Trump’s campaign rhetoric. Klansman Duke recognized Trump as a kindred spirit and wanted to serve alongside him, prompting his candidacy in the state of Louisiana. After receiving the official endorsement from the Klan, neither Trump nor his running mate Mike Pence were willing to condemn Klansman Duke or refer to his brand of hatred as deplorable.
Due to large numbers of Trump supporters that are supremacist sympathizers, Trump and Pence were not in a position to condemn the Klansman or his affiliations.
7) Incumbent Party Precedent
In modern U.S. presidential elections, the incumbent party seldom earns the opportunity to occupy the White House for twelve consecutive years. Winning elections comes at a price. Lots of political capital is necessarily sacrificed in order to advance individually. However, this individual advancement does not usually translate to continued success for the party.
In the past 100 years of U.S. presidential elections, after a president has served two consecutive terms (or more), only twice have candidates from the same party been elected to the presidency.
It first happened in 1948 when President Franklin Roosevelt’s vice president Harry Truman assumed the presidency. But even this succession occurred after Truman had the fortune of completing a four-year term following Roosevelt’s death. The second time a party retained the presidency after an individual served eight or more consecutive years was in 1988 when President Ronald Reagan’s vice president George H.W. Bush, rose to the chief executive.
Considering these phenomena have occurred twice in a century, the odds for this election are not in Clinton’s favor.
8) Electoral College
For generations, the Electoral College has determined how candidates interact with constituents. This archaic system disenfranchises and over concentrates importance for a small portion of the electorate. Battleground states (indicating a higher number of Independent voters who shift support between both parties) are the only races that matter in our flawed Electoral College system. By my calculations from shifting polls, Trump is not only going to do well in swing states, but he is going to nearly sweep them. According to my projection for the race (see “270 to win” map below), Virginia and Colorado will be the only battleground states to remain blue for this election.
But those two states alone, will not suffice for countering Trump’s haul of delegate-rich states like Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. According to my projection map prediction, Trump will ride a surprise wave in the historically Democratic Rust Belt, to a 54-point Electoral College blowout victory.
This country’s population is broken into three central geographic classifications: cities (high population, metropolitan), suburbs (less densely populated, extensions of cities), and rural counties (least populous, lowest access to resources). As we learned in July of this year, both cities and suburbs have enjoyed economic prosperity under President Obama. However, this outlook has not been shared across the board.
According to Bloomberg Markets, “The current decade is on pace to be the best for annual real production worker wage growth since at least the mid-1960s.” This economic prosperity is attributable to President Obama and his policies.
Reversing epic recession and converting it into record wage growth was no small feat considering he governed with an obstructionist Congress disinterested in working with him. Of note, Republicans in Congress refused to debate President Obama’s American Jobs Act, which would have rebuilt the nation's crumbling infrastructure and added hundreds of thousands of long-term new jobs nationwide.
Though the nation as a whole is in a substantially better place than when President Obama was inaugurated, rural America has not enjoyed the same level of success. In fact, rural counties have seen a two percent decline in economic growth during President Obama’s tenure. This decline is the result of several factors, including, population, educational attainment, and industry, to name a few. Only 17 percent of the U.S. population resides in rural counties. Those 17 percent are cut off from the high concentration of necessary resources that large cities and suburbs have. Thus, their lack of access to resources directly impacts educational attainment and health. With aspiring entrepreneurs seeking thriving markets to start new businesses, rural counties simply cannot offer the resources or requisite diversity in clientele to maintain profitability. This reality, unfortunately, results in a growing divide between cities and rural counties as entrepreneurs choose cities for their startups.
As a result of lagging educational attainment, higher risk of poor health, and lower access to vital resources, the 17 percent residing in rural counties, overwhelming support Trump. Many accept his pitch to restructure trade contracts to benefit American workers. Trump brings hope for a better tomorrow to supporters in rural counties, especially those adversely affected by globalization and failed trade policies negotiated by former President Bill Clinton.
By promising to terminate NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement between Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), and other unfavorable trade agreements, Trump has convinced millions of people that his business acumen is best suited for transitioning a floundering U.S. economy on the brink of crisis. To his credit, Trump has used vagueness and lack of knowledge to his advantage. Being a political neophyte affords him the option of feigning ignorance on many geopolitical struggles and still earns him political capital.
Trump is permitted to use inexperience to his advantage. Lacking specificity has become an identifying marker of his campaign. Unlike ordinary politicians, Teflon Don knows what he doesn’t know but is able to rely on his reality TV persona to avoid discussions highlighting his geopolitical and economic deficiencies.
10) Hillary Clinton
The overarching reason Hillary Clinton will lose the 2016 election is Hillary Clinton. She is a tremendously flawed candidate and she represents a party severely divided after its summer convention. The Democratic Party has been negligent in molding young leadership. There is no excuse for the two best Democratic options (Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton) to both be 70-years-old. Sanders is an Independent with no interest in joining the Democratic Party, while Clinton is a Democratic hero who is running in an election eight years past her political prime.
Millennials will soon represent the largest voting block. At the moment, Millennials represent the most racially diverse voting block. With that knowledge, the Democratic Party ought to have discovered and prepared younger political talent that inspires this new generation of voters. For younger voters, there is little discernible difference between the two major parties, an unacceptable reality for many intending to ‘vote their conscious.’
Clinton has withstood and successfully averted decades of attacks by Republican rivals. However, those attacks left permanent scars. Clinton may not have been mortally wounded by political ads reminding people of her ‘Super Predator’ generalization, or her husband’s Crime Bill, or bungling the dissemination of information following the Benghazi attack, or her husband’s impeachment, or her usage of a private server, or the way she allegedly treated her husband’s victims, or her mishandling of classified documents, or her facilitating the destruction of tens of thousands of emails. But mortal wounds are not necessary to discourage millions of people from supporting her candidacy.
Due to the endless attacks, she’s endured for the better part of two decades, Clinton is viewed as a corrupt politician that does not accept culpability for wrongdoing. She is perceived as unapologetic for the lives lost in Benghazi and she refuses to show contrition for not only destroying emails but also for the appearance of facilitating a quid pro quo atmosphere in the State Department.
Clinton’s failure to self-advocate and get ahead of false narratives will be her downfall. No matter how fallacious the attacks against her, when a message is heard often enough, it is believed true. The message in high circulation: Hillary Clinton is corrupt and a by-product of the Washington corruption we’ve grown to loathe. This message resonates, it is convincing, and images of Clinton as a corrupt Washington insider will be the primary reason she loses.
Few people openly admit to hoping they are proven wrong. As a person who appreciates diversity, values tolerance of culture, and aspires to live in a nation with gender equality, police held accountable, and college campuses free of sexual assault and rape culture, I genuinely fear a Donald Trump presidency. His rhetoric is dangerous, damaging and divisive. However, as a legal journalist and educator, it would be irresponsible to ignore the importance of objectivity.
For the aforementioned ten reasons, we should all prepare for Donald Trump to serve as the next President of the United States.