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Nervous? I am. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever been so on edge before an election in my life. On Wednesday morning, barring some unforeseen chaos, America will have a new president elect. As to whether that president will wear a tie or a pantsuit is still anyone’s guess.
I have stopped paying attention to the polls. The last couple I saw, published only a few hours apart, predicted a Clinton victory and a Trump victory respectively. This tells us nothing except that the contest really is down to the wire.
The New York Times is, as far as I know, the only notable publication daring to predict a landslide for one particular candidate. In today’s online edition, the paper’s resident statisticians give Hillary Clinton an 84% chance of winning the election. For context, the paper notes that (according to this calculation) “Mrs. Clinton’s chance of losing is about the same as the probability that an NFL kicker misses a 38-yard field goal.”
I don’t need to tell you that such brazen overconfidence is terribly unwise at this point.
We have, whatever the media may fill time by saying, no real way of knowing what the final imbalance will be on Wednesday morning. We know only that two radically different Americas will have fought with purpled-faced passion for the right to determine the national (and, in some ways, global) future – their preferred visions as different from each other as can possibly be imagined. Perhaps not since the Civil War has there been such stark and violent disagreement between the peoples of the (ostensibly) United States.
There remains nothing more to say now other than to hazard a final prediction. Before I do, I must first make clear the difference between what I think will happen and what I am personally hoping for. These are, as I will explain, sadly out of sync.
I believe (perhaps I should say – I fear) that Hillary Clinton will edge the contest on Tuesday. My reasoning for this is based not on the polls, but on the strange logic (if it can even be called logic) of the US electoral college. As you’ll be aware, it ultimately doesn’t matter who leads the national polls. America’s presidents are elected by a much more convoluted mechanism. Based on unbiased (non-US) media analysis, the road to a Hillary victory appears at present much clearer than the road to a Trump triumph. In order to pull off an upset, Mr Trump must ‘flip’ numerous states in which the Republican support base is traditionally weaker than the Democrats’ – and do so in spite of a massive blitz of hostile propaganda in those states (Clinton’s attack ad spending in this election has resembled more the budget for a military invasion than for a political campaign).
True, a Trump victory is still possible, and we mustn’t lose hope. I was, you may remember, wrong about the outcome of the Brexit vote (along with pretty much everyone else in Britain). However, there is nothing to gain from wishful thinking, and I prefer to state my opinion truthfully.
Whoever wins on Tuesday, America has been undeniably altered by the long, gruelling contest up to this point. A forgotten and despised community – the White working class – has organised into a coherent and readily deployable political force. This force will outlive Trump’s candidacy and go on to influence many elections to come. This is bad news for both parties, but in particular for the Republican mainstream – a tired-out, uninspiring and treacherous collective more concerned with dollars and cents than with people and destiny. If Trump does indeed lose, therefore, there are still a lot of reasons to be thankful for his having stood at all.
The Democrats, even if they win, will be greatly wounded by Clinton’s effect. Almost singlehandedly, the nominee has peeled off a previously loyal base of youthful idealists, casting them adrift into the political wilderness in search of a third party able to satisfy their lust for European socialism and big government. It would be no surprise to me were these idealists to coalesce with the stray Republicans mentioned previously. Both groups do, after all, have the same complaint in kind. They both understand all too well that the elite no longer gives a damn about their welfare or identity. Never has a genuine third alternative looked more realistic than now.
I will post a celebration or condemnation of the result as soon as possible after it has been announced.
See you on the other side of this madness. Breathe slowly. It’s almost over!
PS: I am very interested to hear if the readers of this blog concur with my prediction. Perhaps I’m being unduly pessimistic?