U.S. Election: October’s Political Surprises

by Professor Don DeBats, Flinders University

Halloween indeed brought surprises, most of them scary, especially for the Clinton camp.

With just a week to go Election Day, and with early voting well underway (25 million cast of an anticipated 129 million votes), the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened another front in the long-running exploration of the security implications arising from Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State. This was a distinct surprise, with scary possibilities. That these 1000+ emails were found on the computer of Anthony Weiner, ex-Congress, ex-NYC mayoralty candidate, ex-husband of Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s closest advisor (who can’t explain how Clinton’s emails ended up on the computer she shared with her ex-husband who may soon be a registered sex-offender), takes us into new realms of tragedy, comedy, and terror.

Weiner guarantees that sleaze is back in the news, this time oozing out of the Clinton camp. Hillary at least has a one-degree of separation from embarrassing (and indictable) men while Trump remains the sleaze vector.

And of course there is the not so mysterious Wiki-leaker who regularly brings us new hacked email treasures from John Podesta, Chairman of the Clinton (Hillary) Presidential Campaign and ex-Clinton (Bill) Chief of Staff. Donna Brazile, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, but employed as a journalist by CNN, leaks potential debate questions during the primaries to the Clinton campaign.

Impropriety abounds: those with power abuse power, against people and values. Now cemented in place is this election’s most depressing statistic: the two least respected presidential candidates in 60 years of polling data.

This coarseness is corrosive in a nation whose people, if not the leaders of its major political parties, still believe that ideas and ideals matter.

In the short run, on the other hand, the surveys, studies, and analyses from the vast majority of polling companies and institutes continue to show Hillary Clinton with a far greater likelihood of winning this presidential contest.

Averaging 14 different polling companies and research institutes across the US provides the professional consensus: Hillary Clinton with 306 Electoral College votes and Donald Trump with 179. With only 53 Electoral College votes in play, this indicates an easy victory for Hillary Clinton.

But enthusiasm is down, way down, on the Clinton side (how could it be otherwise) and way up on the Trump side. Momentum in these final days does matter and, as scandal on her side replaces scandal on his side, it is no longer with Clinton.

Predictions are not results: polls and surveys may not be accurate and scary surprises could change many votes at the last minute, especially given the quite remarkable unpopularity of both Clinton and Trump.

Still there are very few who believe Donald Trump has any chance of winning this election: one of those few is Allan Lichtman, of American University in Washington DC, whose measures have the additional attraction of averting our eyes from this campaign. He announced, even before Halloween’s surprises, that his “keys” now predicted a Trump triumph.

Even Halloween cannot match that.

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