Most of us have not yet traveled as a passenger in a car which
has no driver, but I think the next two months are going to
give all of us a virtual political ride in a presidential contest
which has no one truly at the wheel.
The two presidential nominees have already begun a duel in
name-calling which is taking place in an airless media tunnel
that has no light --- neither at its entrance nor at the end of
it. Hold your breath if you can.
All of this is going to be sorted out by an electorate already
overwhelmed by a plethora of grievances and frustrations.
In the past, the final presidential campaign stage began on Labor
Day, but this cycle we can observe that the contest has been
non-stop since the two major party conventions. Some serious
money is going to be spent in advertisements, get-out-the-vote
(GOTV) efforts, and in producing campaign rally extravaganzas.
These strategies have almost always produced results, but this
is such an unusual cycle, they might not matter as much as
conventional analysis thinks they will.
What then will matter most to voters?
I am beginning to think it is going to settle into a simple
question, and not a lot of complicated ones. That question to
be answered by voters will be a choice between "more of the
same" and "uncertain change." The Democratic Party chose
between a change candidate, Bernie Sanders, and a status quo
candidate, and settled on the latter, Hillary Clinton. The
Republican Party, by contrast, ended up with a controversial
unorthodox nominee instead of 16 other relatively conventional
candidates. As the post-convention dust settled, Donald Trump
appears more and more as a candidate of significant (if not
There is always a central psychology to any presidential
campaign, and this is even more intensely so in an especially
volatile one. I am not a trained psychologist, so I will defer for
now on any attempt to predict which psychological themes will
predominate for most voters on election day. But I will observe
the obvious --- the race is between stalemate and uncertain
change. This is not, as some might think, a cop-out on my part;
as my readers know, I usually incline to the contrarian and
unconventional, and am not shy about doing so.
It is now accepted that both major party nominees are both
unlikable and flawed, more so perhaps than any nominees in
memory. Many voters have already made their ballot box
decisions based on their take on these two personalities. But
with a bit more than two months to go, a great many voters are
either undecided or wavering.
I have recently and consistently argued that the polls are not
telling us how the electorate really thinks and feels about the
presidential contest. Many of my colleagues do not agree, and
some of them have told me so directly. They might be correct,
and I might be wrong, but I’m sticking to my belief that the
final decision that will result on November 8 has not yet been
made, nor do any polls prove that such a decision has been
I do think that the three debates soon to take place will be very
important to the psychology of the 2016 electorate. They will
juxtapose the personifications of the choice the voters will have
If I knew who was driving the transportation of this election
cycle, I would say more, but since I only share the passenger seat
with my readers, I can merely now probe further and further into
the question of where we are going.
The good news, if it is to be good news, is that this ride is getting
closer an closer to its climactic destination.
Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. Al rights reserved.