“Who do you love?” asked Bo Diddley in song. Perhaps the more important question in this crazy election season is “Who do you hate?”
Or does either question really matter?
Niall Stanage reports that pollsters are throwing up their hands at all the unknowns:
The two prospective nominees’ high unfavorable ratings, and their fame, means pollsters are facing one of their most difficult tasks in conducting polls that correctly model who will vote in November’s election.
As many people are likely to come to the polls this fall to vote against the candidate they dislike as to vote for a candidate they support — something that makes polling difficult.
“We are looking at…the most disliked candidates in a single election,” said Jennifer Dineen, a University of Connecticut polling expert who is also the director of the UConn/Hartford Courant poll.
As a pollster, “you’re not determining who’s supporting a candidate, you are trying to determine how strongly someone opposes a candidate,” she added.
“People’s feelings on [Trump] are pretty clear, but we are not just trying to estimate support for Secretary Clinton, we are estimating opposition to him.”
And of course it needs to be said that the same is true for Clinton and her sky-high unfavorables — pollsters must estimate support for Trump and opposition to Clinton.
The edge would seem to go to Trump, who pulls lots of Democrats into the R column, as we witnessed during the GOP primary. (Whether Trump’s appeal proves to be a good thing for conservative/libertarian values remains unknown, so in the meantime I’m holding my fingers and crossing my breath.) But while it’s true that Hillary will never generate the same enthusiasm Trump does, it’s also true that in November she’ll enjoy the full benefits of Obama’s digital GOTV effort — something in which Trump shows little interest, and at which the Reince Priebus and the RNC show underwhelming skill.
Trump has his John Henry-like rally strength. Hillary has the turnout machine. Which wins: Human will or digital machine? That’s another unknown.
Then there’s the Democrat’s Electoral College wall. It’s difficult going for any GOP candidate, when the Democrat starts with California, New York, and Illinois in her pocket. Or can Trump breach the wall by picking off Old Economy blue states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey? Yet another unknown.
Then there’s the Big Unknown: The outside chance that Clinton won’t be the nominee.
John Schindler wrote this morning:
To be clear, EmailGate has made me join ranks with the #NeverHillary faction. I believe her willful mishandling of her communications at Foggy Bottom — the ridiculous bathroom server, the dodging of numerous laws that apply to the rest of us, the compromise of seriously classified information, above all the flagrant lying about it that continues to this very day — shows she is not fit to be our commander-in-chief. Hillary simply cannot be trusted.
I’ve never been a Hillary hater, as I’ve explained on this blog. Before EmailGate, I considered Ms.Clinton to be a respectable, if somewhat laughable politician, who never hid her naked ambition very well. That said, I assessed her as competent and rather non-ideological (from me, that’s a compliment). I believed Hillary, whatever her faults, could make the trains run on time. Now that EmailGate has laid bare Hillary’s staggering incompetence and dishonesty, any admiration I possessed has evaporated.
It’s one thing for Clinton to blame the VRWC for her troubles. It’s quite another when investigators from her own former department make Schindler into a #NeverHillary hashtagger. The FBI is expected to wrap up its own investigation this summer, and regardless if the Justice Department presses charges, the FBI’s findings ought to be yuge.
And it isn’t just independents like Schindler. On Sunday, former Bill Clinton advisor Douglas Schoen had to admit that even some Democrats are hoping Clinton will soon see the underside of a road-based mass transportation vehicle:
The inevitability behind Mrs. Clinton’s nomination will be in large measure eviscerated if she loses the June 7 California primary to Bernie Sanders. That could well happen.
A recent PPIC poll shows Mrs. Clinton with a 2% lead over Mr. Sanders, and a Fox News survey found the same result. Even a narrow win would give him 250 pledged delegates or more —- a significant boost. California is clearly trending to Mr. Sanders, and the experience in recent open primaries has been that the Vermont senator tends to underperform in pre-election surveys and over-perform on primary and caucus days, thanks to the participation of new registrants and young voters.
To this end, data from mid-May show that there were nearly 1.5 million newly registered Democratic voters in California since Jan. 1. That’s a 218% increase in Democratic voter registrations compared with the same period in 2012, a strongly encouraging sign for Mr. Sanders.
A Sanders win in California would powerfully underscore Mrs. Clinton’s weakness as a candidate in the general election.
(Hat tip, Michael Walsh.)
Hordes of new voters aren’t a good sign for Establishment candidates — just ask Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. Yet the delegate math is still barely there for Sanders, and even then only if he squints hard behind a pair of rose-colored glasses.
But I’ll go Schoen one further. Sanders might not have to actually win California to get Democratic superdelegates to rethink their support for Clinton, or to get Joe Biden to rethink his decision not to run. If Sanders finishes within a point of Clinton, that might be enough. Right now, after months of mud and effort, is when weary Democrats ought to be flocking to the strongest candidate. And if they don’t come to Clinton in California? She’ll look like a wounded animal.
I probably don’t have to remind Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Readers™ that when she’s wounded is when Hillary’s most unpleasant attributes — her brittleness, her entitlement, her breezy acquaintance with the truth — all come to the fore. And at a time when she would need to be at her political best, too.
So the pollsters might not know anything this year — including the first and last names of the Democratic nominee.