Saturday, September 17, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Weekend Update 23

Virtually every national poll is now showing dramatic gains
for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Several
show him leading Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by a
few points, others show the race is tied, and a few show Clinton
leading but by a significantly smaller margin than she held only
two weeks before. These polls reflect the anticipated popular
vote for president. Many observers, however, contend that the
liberal candidate still has an advantage in the all-important
electoral college composed of 538  electors, chosen by each state,
and who actually elect the president in a formal vote in
mid-December in Washington, DC. A new Reuters poll, however,
indicates that Mr. Trump is now tied with Mrs. Clinton in the
electoral college. Other pollsters have acknowledged the race is
notably tightening in most of the so-called battleground states,
that is, those states where the outcome remains to be uncertain.
Some observers, including The Prairie Editor, have suggested
that no matter the numbers in most polls they are
under-measuring a large (but unspecified) number of likely new
voters (LNVs) of all ages who previously have not voted, but
are motivated this cycle to cast a vote for president. These
“mutineers” or LNVs, The Prairie Editor further suggests, are
angry and frustrated with the political establishments, and
might tend to vote for Mr. Trump in November. In any case,
with less than two months to go, the contest outcome is as
unpredictable as ever. Lest conservatives become too giddy with
these poll numbers, The Prairie Editor cautions that another
swing or two in favor of one of the nominees is probably likely.

With the U.S. presidential race tightening, political observers and
party leaders are asking how the presidential campaign will affect
down-ballot races, including particularly U.S. house and senate
contests. Historically, landslide elections have helped down-ballot
candidates of the winning party, but the results have seemed
more to reflect local political conditions and the relative quality
of the local candidates. Further, there has long existed a pattern
of incumbents winning re-election. Race-by-race polls in 2016
support this pattern, particularly in the U.S. house. Republicans
currently control that body by a wide margin and, although
expected to see a small net loss, are not expected to see their
majority overturned. The U.S. senate races, on the other hand,
give the Democrats a serious opportunity to take control back.
More than twice as many GOP-held than Democratic-held seats
are up for re-election in 2016. Virtually all liberal incumbents and
most conservative incumbents seem likely to return to the next
Congress, but some GOP senators are in competitive races, There
are also a number of open seats this cycle, and one of them,
Nevada, is the best opportunity for a Republican pick-up. On the
other hand, currently-held GOP seats in Illinois, Wisconsin, New
Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Missouri, current
polls indicate, could be lost. Three races, in Ohio, Florida and
Arizona now seem clearly favor their conservative candidates.
One Democratic seat, in Colorado, was originally thought to be
vulnerable, but so far this has not materialized in poll surveys.

Something to remember, however, is that congressional races,
especially senate ones, occasionally change dramatically in the
closing weeks of a campaign. There always seems to be one or
more surprises on election night.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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