Daring To Hope…

A week from tomorrow is Election Day–finally! If nothing else, it will mark the merciful end of the interminable and overwhelmingly awful commercials for local candidates. My abiding hope is for an enormous turnout and an overwhelming BLUE result.

There are some anecdotal indications that such a result is possible. Turnout for early voting has been more than robust–over a week ago, the number of early voters had already exceeded the total early vote in 2016, and it’s hard to imagine that turnout reflects enthusiastic support for Trump.

A FaceBook friend recently posted about standing in the long line for early voting in his small, reliably red Indiana town. A car drove past the line, and the driver shouted “How long have you been waiting?” Someone from the line shouted back “Four years!” and the whole line applauded.

Tim Alberta is a writer/reporter for Politico; as we’ve gotten closer to election day, he has been writing about his “hunches,” which he bases on literally thousands of interactions with voters around the country.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time to start unpacking my notebookto share the most significant and unavoidable trends I’ve spotted over the past year. Inching out on a limb, I wrote about four gut feelings I had with just four weeks remaining until Election Day: Trump fatigue peaking at the wrong time; the only “silent majority” I’ve encountered on the ground; the dangers posed by mass absentee voting to the Democratic Party; and the historic deficit Trump could suffer among women voters.

With three weeks to go until Election Day, I inched out a bit farther, describing the changing landscape (literally) of yard-sign politics, the early indicators of explosive, unprecedented turnout and the fork in the road Republicans could face as soon as November 3.

In last week’s column, with just two weeks to go, he shared two more “strongly held” hunches: that the suburban realignment that has been widely reported is not–as most reporting has suggested–just a female phenomenon; and that we are “overthinking” this campaign. 

With respect to suburbia, Alberta writes

Twice in the past week, I’ve been given reliable polling from the ground in battleground states that suggests something that was once unthinkable: Trump is losing college-educated white men for the first time in his presidency. The margins aren’t huge, but they are consistent with a trend line that dates to 2018, when Republicans carried this demographic by just 4 points. What the numbers suggest—in both private and public polling—is that Biden is no longer just walloping Trump among white women in the suburbs, he’s pulling ahead with white men there, as well.

We shouldn’t get carried away with this just yet. Republicanism is deep in the DNA of many of these voters, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a last-minute lurch back in the direction of their political home.

Still, the fact that Trump is sweating college-educated white men two weeks out from Election Day tells you everything you need to know about the state of the race at this moment.

With respect to our “overthinking,” he says

More than 219,000 Americans are dead from a global pandemic. Millions of adults are home from work and millions of kids are home from school. The streets of big cities and small towns have been convulsing with anger and protest and even sporadic violence.

All of this is politically significant. All of it has contributed to an election-year environment that is fundamentally detrimental to the incumbent. But if Trump loses, the biggest factor won’t be Covid-19 or the economic meltdown or the social unrest. It will be his unlikability.

There’s an old political adage that people ultimately vote for the person with whom they’d like to have a beer. To belabor the obvious, that isn’t Donald Trump.

All across America, in conversations with voters about their choices this November, I’ve been hearing the same thing over and over again: “I don’t like Trump.” (Sometimes there’s a slight variation: “I’m so tired of this guy,” “I can’t handle another four years of this,” etc.) The remarkable thing? Many of these conversations never even turn to Biden; in Phoenix, several people who had just voted for the Democratic nominee did not so much as mention his name in explaining their preference for president.

Trump’s overwhelming need for constant attention hurts him. As Alberta points out, Trump  has made himself more accessible than any president in history. He has used the White House and Twitter as performance arenas, and “like the drunk at the bar, he won’t shut up.”

Many of his own supporters are tired of having beers with Trump.  

In any other year, the numerous anecdotes and the polling would reassure me–but the memory of 2016, together with Republicans’ overwhelming assault on vote integrity–are keeping me on the edge of my seat.

Fingers (and toes) crossed….