The Election Isn’t Over Quite Yet

Don't be fooled into thinking that the election is "over," because it isn't.

Trump Clinton

While all the polling right now is pointing toward what could end up being an historically large victory by Hillary Clinton in November, Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight reminds us that the election is far from over, and points to several historical examples to support his argument:

Simply put, the polls aren’t perfect at this point in the cycle — there’s still a good deal of uncertainty inherent in trying to predict who will win the election and by how much based on the polls. We have more than two months until the election, and polls have coverage error, measurement errorand non-response error.


In 1980, Jimmy Carter, after a successful convention, was tied with Ronald Reagan according to the national polling average.2 But Reagan ended upwinning by nearly 10 percentage points. Reagan’s gains were greater than the deficit Trump faces now.

Just four years before Reagan’s victory, Gerald Ford nearly pulled off the greatest comeback in the modern polling era. Ford was down by double digits in 1976. But aided by a decent job approval rating and perhaps by Carter’s missteps, Ford narrowed Carter’s lead and even inched ahead in thefinal Gallup poll of the campaign. Ford didn’t win another term, but he proved that a race can change even after both conventions are in the rearview mirror.

Perhaps the most interesting potential precedent for the 2016 campaign is 1968.3 Richard Nixon was up by 8 percentage points and opened an evenlarger lead in the fall. But Hubert Humphrey was able to consolidate a previously divided Democratic base (as Trump needs to do with Republicans) and cut into Nixon’s lead. Humphrey was also aided byPresident Lyndon Johnson’s rising approval ratings and the original October surprise (an announcement by Johnson that the U.S. was halting the bombing in Vietnam). Humphrey ended up losing in the second-closest presidential election of the 1900s. It’s not too difficult to imagine Republicans rallying behind Trump — perhaps Clinton is hit with a scandal or WikiLeaks drops an October surprise.

Indeed, half the presidential elections included in the table saw the difference between the candidates’ support change by more than 5 percentage points. Three races experienced a shift that was greater than Clinton’s current lead in the national polls. There are a lot of undecided voters this year, so we could still see a large shift.

Given the way in which recent elections have gone, it should hardly be necessary for Enten to issue this caveat. At various times over the course of each election going back to 2000, we’ve seen the position of the two candidates fluctuate depending upon the issues being discussed at that point or the events of the day. Ultimately, of course, the final polls for each of these elections ended up being relatively close to where the election result was but in between this point in the election cycle and then, there were times when one candidate was up and the other was down, and vice versa. The only “recent” example where that wasn’t the case was the 1996 election, in which Bill Clinton led Bob Dole in every pre-election poll without fail, but that seems to be the exception rather than the rule in that the only other example we can find for that is in the polling for the 1984 election. In this case, the vast majority of the polling both before and after the conventions has shown Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump, but not all of them have so we already know that 2016 won’t be like those two elections. There’s been fluctuation at both the state and national level and that’s likely to happen again as we get closer to Election Day. Given that, Clinton supporters would be well advised not to rest on their laurels and assume that current polling, combined with Donald Trump’s seeming inability to avoid putting his foot in his mouth and the fact that his recent campaign changes are likely to make it more likely that we’ll see more of the outrageous behavior that has turned off voters, means that the election is effectively over.

As Enten notes, there are any number of things that can happen in the next eighty or so days that could turn this election around. As unlikely as it seems, Donald Trump could end up seeing the error of his ways and put together a more traditional national campaign that hits on the public’s desire for change from the status quo and their dissatisfaction with ‘politics as usual’ to put together a winning coalition. Clinton’s campaign could stumble over its own problems, such as the response to questions about the Clinton Foundation or Hillary’s email server, in much the same way that it did during the primary campaign during those occasions when Bernie Sanders seemed to become a more serious challenge than he ended up being. There could be any number of outside events, whether it’s developments on the international front, another domestic or international terror attack, or developments out of Syria and/or Ukraine, that could throw a curve ball into the race. Or, something else could happen that has some impact on the outcome of the race. For all of those reasons, it’s important to remember that the polls we’re looking at now are just snapshots in time. They don’t tell us where the race will be in 30 or  60 days, and they most certainly don’t tell us where the race will be after the debates, which could be even more decisive this time than they have been in the past. For all those reasons, it’s best to reserve judgment on the election for now.

With all that in mind, if I were asked to make a prediction today I would say that the most likely outcome is that Hillary Clinton will win the Presidential election and that she’ll do so quite handily. Thanks to the Democratic Party’s advantages in the Electoral College, I’ve believed this for the better part of a year now, though, and the nomination of Donald Trump has only made that conclusion more certain in my mind. At this point, I tend to think it’s more likely that  60 days from now we’ll be spending our time concentrating more on the battle for the Senate and, possibly, the House of Representatives, than on the Presidential election. However, I’m open to the possibility that the wind could shift and we could find ourselves with Donald Trump picking up steam and making a race out of this election, even if he doesn’t end up overtaking Clinton in the polls. When that happens, the media will likely give any Trump surge overstated importance only to find that Clinton remains in control in the end, but you should definitely be prepared for the “Trump is back” meme that the political media would push if such a surge did happen. Then as now though, the stories should be treated with a grain of salt because, in the end, what will matter is where the race is on November 8th, not where it is on October 13th.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Thor thormussen says:

    yes it is.

  2. Thor thormussen says:

    😛 just had to be an a-hole, Doug, nothing personal. I actually want the GOP to glom onto Mike Pence and go all-in for ‘Trump’ with the agreement that Trump will be a figurehead or announce a medical issue and resign and give us Prez Pence.

  3. Modulo Myself says:

    Nope. It’s over. Trump’s going into his October material now. In four weeks he will replace Team Breitbart with Team Infowars. By the end of October it will be lizard people and chemtrails.

    Basically, Bill Clinton will go to his grave letting people believe he convinced Trump to run for President.

  4. Mikey says:

    @Thor thormussen:

    I’m not counting any chickens, but still, I pretty much agree with you. Trump’s recent “shake-up” can only mean he’ll be doubling down on the statements and rhetoric that have already alienated the majority of American voters. He won’t be getting them back and will probably alienate even more before November.

  5. An Interested Party says:

    This election is different from all of those past elections that were used as comparisons…those elections involved seasoned politicians who at least had some idea of how to appeal to the electorate as a whole…Trump only seems interested in appealing to his base and his recent moves seem to be a doubling down of that strategy…not really a way to win in 2016…

  6. CSK says:

    If Trump intends to go full-on lunatic, as Bannon is encouraging him to do, then he’s effectively sabotaging his own campaign.

    This morning Trump Tweeted: “They will soon be calling me. MR.BREXIT!” I assume–although that’s always dangerous with Trump, because every utterance that comes out of his mouth is so garbled it can’t be said to have any single objective meaning–he means that his bad polls don’t forecast the outcome of the election.

    On the other hand, he could be predicting his own exit from the campaign. Who the he!! knows?

  7. C. Clavin says:

    This thing is far from over. The worst thing that people who care about this country can do is become complaisant. The Trumpies are in denial right now. Soon they will be angry (angrier). And then it’s going to get really nasty. The conspiracy theorists will be flinging all kinds of garbage around.

    Went to a motorcycle gathering last night. Well over 10,000 people. Lots and lots of Trump regalia in deep blue Connecticut. But I guess if you are dumb enough to ride a Harley you are dumb enough to vote for Trump.

    National polls are fine, but it’s the statewide polling that matters in that they apply directly to the Electoral College. Sam Wang has Clinton holding 271 safe EC votes (with 270 required).

    The only thing that is constant is change.

  8. CSK says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I don’t mean to impugn motorcyclists–not even Harley riders–in general, but with the pro-Trump bikers, did you notice any Nazi regalia as well?

    I ask only because outlaw bikers have always admired Nazis (they’re real men, those Storm Troopers!), and Trump himself has the hearty endorsement of the American Nazi Party and Stormfront.

  9. Pch101 says:

    Any poll that puts Clinton at the mid-40s and below makes me nervous. Which means that most of them make me nervous.

    At this point, I would consider most of the supposed third party voters to be in the undecided/lean Republican camp — perhaps a lot of them just won’t bother to show up, but some of them may decide to opt for Trump as the lesser of two evils. Combine that with the actual undecideds, and you have room for error.

    Ultimately, I would still expect Clinton to win with an electoral college blowout, but a slim (2%ish) margin of victory on the popular vote would not surprise me. (And nothing would please me more than to be proven wrong about this — I sincerely hope that Trump gets stomped on the popular vote, not just defeated by a hair.)

    That Democratic swing state ground game is going to count for something. They will need to make sure that women and minorities show up on election day, and not just talk about it with pollsters.

  10. cian says:

    Three new polls out targeting swing states (Virginia, Iowa, Colorado) and while Clinton is winning across the board, Trump’s numbers are rising, not falling, in all three. Not sure where to go with this or what it says. Worrying I would think. It’s not like Trump has changed. In fact he has doubled down on the crazy, suggesting, for some voters, he wasn’t crazy enough. And don’t forget, Clinton has yet to have her bad week.

  11. CSK says:


    I share your hope that Trump gets stomped on Election Day, not simply because the man himself is loathsome, but because of the utter ugliness of what he represents. I don’t want to see this happen again, and perhaps if the snake’s head is removed, the rest of the snake will die.

    I wouldn’t worry a lot about the Democratic swing state ground game and getting people to the voting booths. Trump himself has said explicitly that he sees no need for a GOTV movement on his part, because the people who like him will show up to vote for him.

    It would not, however, altogether surprise me if some of the crazier Trumpkins (is that an oxymoron?) became violent in the aftermath of a Clinton landslide.

  12. Tony W says:


    Clinton has yet to have her bad week.

    She has tried to have a bad week several times, but then Trump comes in and says something stupid.

    The Trump campaign could learn a lot from the Clinton campaign. When your opponent is making a mistake the best strategy is to just shut up.

  13. bookdragon says:

    I think it was John Glenn who once said Democrats should always campaign as though they were ten points behind.

    Based on the local organizing meeting for the county Dems last night, at least in my neck of the woods people are taking that to heart. I was worried folks would be complacent because of HRC’s lead in the polls and high win probability on 538, etc., and expected that on a week night there wouldn’t be all that many people. The room was packed. Standing room only and despite starting and ending late a number of people stayed after to get a jump on phone banking.

    We’re a purple county (state rep is GOP) but the Dems here are energized. Plus there were several ‘unaffiliated’ (PA term for Independent) and even a couple Republicans. The nearly unanimous consensus was that it’s not enough for Trump to lose. He has to go down by big margins, with no possibility pulling a ‘Brexit’.

  14. Liberal Capitalist says:

    So… you’re saying that it ain’t over until the fat lady sings?

    Are ya callin Ms. Clinton Fat?

    Is this playing into the GOTea message that Hillary is unwell?

  15. C. Clavin says:

    I did not notice any neo-nazi stuff.
    But there was a huge police presence due to rumors about gun nuts exercising their 2nd amendment right to carry their prosthetics. Full on Para-Military SWAT, snipers on roof-tops, the whole nine yards.

  16. Jen says:

    Well, no, it isn’t over and won’t be until Nov. 8. However, I am really struggling to see how Trump is going to win if he can’t expand his voter base–and bringing on Bannon really does seem to be doubling down on the crazy.

    I think that the Trump camp has decided that the only way to win is to go full-bore scorched Earth on Clinton, starting with her health–right now, one of the top trending stories on FB is some clown named Dr. Drew Pinsky (?) saying that we should not only be concerned about her health, but her health care.

    The next few months are going to make the Obama birther stuff look tame in comparison, I think. All while Trump hides his real health records, refuses to release his taxes, lies about his stances on issues, etc., etc., etc.

  17. Kylopod says:

    It’s worth stepping back and reflecting on the fact that most of the “theories” on how Trump wins have totally gone to bust so far. These theories have included:

    1. Clinton gets indicted over the emails. She wasn’t, and anyone living in reality should have realized she never would be. End of story.

    2. Bernie fails to endorse her, and large swaths of liberals refuse to vote for her and possibly even decide to vote for Trump. Bernie did endorse her, polls suggest the vast majority of his supporters have easily switched to her. End of story.

    3. The economy slides into recession. Hasn’t happened, and there’s no sign of it happening in the next couple of months. Despite a bad jobs report in May, most of the economic numbers this year have been solid if not spectacular.

    4. There’s a terrorist attack, and voters turn to the candidate who projects manly toughness. There already was a terrorist attack, and Trump’s numbers actually declined in the aftermath of it, probably in part due to his pathetic inability to even fake empathy for the victims. Also, it’s not at all clear that Trump has a tendency to make people feel safer and more secure. Whatever the reason, it’s anything but self-evident that Trump is helped by terrorism at this point.

    5. Trump will pick up overwhelming support from white working-class voters, enabling him to win traditionally Democratic states in the Rust Belt. This is one of the most pervasive theories about how Trump can win, propounded by everyone from Trump himself to certain liberals like Michael Moore. Adherents to this theory cling to it almost as an article of faith, thinking it so obvious that they don’t even bother to try examining the evidence, which has failed to provide even a sliver of support for it. Even in those brief periods in which Trump was leading some national polls, there simply was no sign of him on the verge of producing an unusual electoral map; at best, he was competitive in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but he has never come close to leading in Michigan, for example. Also, proponents of this theory never consider the countervailing effect of his having majorly pissed off Latinos and other minorities, probably doing as much to mobilize them as Hillary herself could have.

    6. Trump will “pivot” and start behaving like a normal candidate and a normal human being. Do I even need to say anything more?

    The only way Trump wins at this point is probably more mundane than any of this: most of the anti-Trump Republicans end up voting for him anyway, he successfully consolidates the party, the race tightens and he wins by holding onto all the Romney states and adding Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Not very likely at this point, but still plausible. Recognizing all this is not being overly complacent, it’s being realistic.

  18. Electroman says:

    @Thor thormussen:

    all-in for ‘Trump’ with the agreement that Trump will be a figurehead

    I don’t believe that the Constitution allows for the fulfillment of such a bargain. Article 1, section 7 and Article 2, section 2 come to mind as possible stumbling blocks.

  19. CSK says:

    Well, well. It seems those of us who’ve speculated that Trump was in this to form his own media empire may have been quite right. There’s an article in the New York Times that claims that “in recent months” Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner (who already owns the New York Observer) have been exploring the possibility of investing in or taking over a media outlet.

    If the Times is correct, why would Trump have been investigating this possibility last spring?

  20. Blue Galangal says:

    @Pch101: I have a small ray of hope: for the first time EVER I was contacted (this week) by a Democratic campaign to volunteer for canvassing and voter registration. Although I have sought out campaigns in past elections and volunteered, usually after Labor Day, this time they called me. Well before Labor Day. So I’m really hoping this reflects a big GOTV effort in Ohio.

  21. al-Ameda says:


    And don’t forget, Clinton has yet to have her bad week.

    When it comes to a Republican-controlled congress and the Clintons, potentially every week is a bad week.

    It seems that Congressional Republicans are now considering an investigation of Hillary Clinton and the possibility that she committed perjury with respect to previous email/private-server investigations (rinse repeat, rinse repeat)

  22. BigT says:


    I saw on TPM that someone responded to Trump’s Mr. Brexit tweet with “Congrats on your engagement!” Best chuckle I’ve had in awhile.

  23. CSK says:


    That’s perfect. He can’t stand it when people make fun of him.

  24. Rafer Janders says:

    As unlikely as it seems, Donald Trump could end up seeing the error of his ways and put together a more traditional national campaign that hits on the public’s desire for change from the status quo and their dissatisfaction with ‘politics as usual’ to put together a winning coalition.

    No, he couldn’t. He only “could” do so by abandoning the habits and processes of a lifetime, by altering his very personality and essence — and when you say someone “could” do something if only he changed every single thing about himself in the course of a month, then you are really saying he can’t do it.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @Thor thormussen:

    Trump to be a figurehead

    Seriously, can you imagine Trump letting someone run the show?The frist time a reporter challenged him he would start disparaging Pence and try to fire him.

  26. C. Clavin says:

    Nicely played.
    The only thing you left out that I can think of is Wikileaks or someone coming out with some kind of smoking gun regarding something or other. I tend to discount this because if anyone had anything really juicy they would put it out there instead of waiting, especially with Trump flailing like he is. But you never know.

  27. michael reynolds says:

    Hillary is playing a smart rope-a-dope strategy. Trump just keeps punching – himself – and Hillary lets him have the stage. As Napoleon supposedly said, “Never interfere with your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

    It is worrying that Trump still has 40%. And we should follow the martial arts rule of not aiming a punch at the tip of your opponent’s nose, but through his nose to the back of his head. When the villain goes down you don’t show mercy, you stomp him till he’s a red stain. Or in this case, an orange one.

    That said, Trump has no strategy. He has a team of amateurs – amateurs who are starting fresh with 81 days left. He has no ground game. He has at best lukewarm party support. He is behind in every demographic that Romney took in 2012. He’s kissed off all the minorities. He’s way underwater with women. He’s behind in 11 out of 11 swing states. How bad is it? Georgia and Arizona are in play, that’s how bad. Even South Carolina may be an outside possibility and that’s insane. Imagine the flip side, imagine if we thought California or Massachusetts might be in play.

    And best of all, Trump is a blithering idiot.

    So, over? No. But as conservative radio talker, Charlie Sykes, tweeted in referring to the latest shake-up: Trump’s campaign has now entered the Hospice Phase. He knows he’s dying and wants to surround himself with his loved ones.

  28. JKB says:

    @Jen: one of the top trending stories on FB is some clown named Dr. Drew Pinsky (?) saying that we should not only be concerned about her health, but her health care.

    Unfortunately, that “clown” is not only a physician, but also “Dr. Drew”, the long time TV/radio personality, with a fan base.

    In addition, this week Hillary is taking a 4-day week end, with nothing scheduled until Monday and recently started having a stool on stage to lean on. She is confirming the “unwell” meme with her actions so it could start to stick.

    Trump on the other hand, is in full vigor and traveled to Milwaukee to speak to the African-American voters. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t spotlight Obama’s ignoring absence of visit or comment regarding the flooding in Louisiana soon.

    And remember, sometime in late September, Trump is going to take up residence, figuratively, on Pennsylvania Ave with the opening of the Trump International.

    Either way, come January 21st (?), Trump will be in the news.

    $100,000 For Inauguration Night at Trump’s D.C. Hotel:
    That’s a tremendous amount, but apparently that’s what it will cost to stay at the Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C., for the night in the Presidential Suite. That said, the hotel’s perch on Pennsylvania Ave is as front-row as you can get for the parade.

  29. Jen says:

    @CSK: Yup, Vanity Fair reported on his aspirations for a TV empire back in June:

    The additions of Ailes and Bannon just seem to add to the likelihood that TV is the objective.

  30. al-Ameda says:


    Trump on the other hand, is in full vigor and traveled to Milwaukee to speak to the African-American voters. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t spotlight Obama’s ignoring absence of visit or comment regarding the flooding in Louisiana soon.


  31. Jen says:

    @JKB: Huh, well, that’s news to me, I’d never heard of him before today.

    Let’s remember that Trump has his health issues too: a clearly fake doctor’s letter, and fairly sticky rumors that he’s been on knock-off fen-phen for years (that’s “in full vigor”).

    Both of them are at or near 70. I really don’t care if she takes four days off–heck, I need a full day to recover when I fly coast to coast and I’m in my mid-40s. Campaigning, I remember very well, is utterly grueling and exhausting, and that was when I was in my 20s.

  32. michael reynolds says:


    Pinsky is a thoroughly unethical addiction specialist who sold out his medical credibility for realty TV fame. He’d say you had leprosy if it would get him a segment on Howard.

    Trump’s physician letter testifying to his health is a transparent fraud.

    There is zero indication that Hillary has health problems. Drudge’s effort to prove Hillary’s weakness because she uses pillows when she sits for long periods of time is obviously dishonest and obvious nonsense.

    So, either you are deliberately spreading lies, JKB, or you’re so deep in the Trump Distortion Field that you have lost the last of your critical faculties. This is of course the problem in analyzing you people: are you liars or morons? So hard to tell sometimes. Maybe you could clear it up:

    a) Liar
    b) Moron
    c) Both of the above

    There is no (d).

  33. C. Clavin says:


    Trump on the other hand, is in full vigor and traveled to Milwaukee to speak to the African-American voters.

    Actually, no. He traveled to Milwaukee and spoke to white voters…about da blacks.
    That was the day before he said that we needed racial profiling.
    He also said that he would throw someone out of the country simply because the theocracy they want doesn’t agree with the theocracy he wants. A statement that is quite likely the most profound challenge to American civil liberties ever uttered by a major-party candidate.

  34. Tyrell says:

    I will look and see which candidate offers the best tax plan before deciding.

  35. CSK says:


    Thanks; that was interesting. Apparently the Bannon-Trump relationship goes back several years.

  36. Neil Hudelson says:


    Trump on the other hand, is in full vigor and traveled to Milwaukee to speak to the African-American voters.

    BAHAHAHAHahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha *cough* *wheeze*

    Yes, that’s why he was there. African American outreach.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t spotlight Obama’s ignoring absence of visit or comment regarding the flooding in Louisiana soon.

    If Obama visited every city that had to deal with racist LEO questionably shooting black men, he would never have a moment to sleep. Also, i seem to remember the presence of Eric Holder in Ferguson being called troublesome meddling by right wingers (to be fair, not you though IIRC.)

    As to the flooding…the complete lack of coverage or even awareness by the American public and media on what is the worst natural disaster since Sandy…and possibly the worst disaster for humans* since Katrina…is truly worrisome. Unless I’m missing something, I too have been surprised at the silence from the White House.

    *Americans, that is. Obviously Syria, et al, is worse.

  37. wr says:

    @JKB: “Trump on the other hand, is in full vigor and traveled to Milwaukee to speak to the African-American voters.”

    Um, no. Trump traveled to a suburb 50 miles away from Milwaukee that’s 95% white and talked about African-Americans.

    Don’t know if you’re lying, or if you just accept and repeat the lies of others. Knave or fool, that’s always the question with you…

  38. wr says:

    @Neil Hudelson: “As to the flooding…the complete lack of coverage or even awareness by the American public and media on what is the worst natural disaster since Sandy…and possibly the worst disaster for humans* since Katrina…is truly worrisome. ”

    Look, if you want coverage for your natural disaster, you have to do it in a place near where media is headquartered. Sandy figured that out…

  39. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @CSK: Alas, Trump isn’t the head of this snake; the rabid drooling mass that constitutes the majority of the party is the head. Four years ago, we said that when Romney didn’t win, the GOP would rethink the message. We were wrong. They gotta kill their own snake; the election can’t do it for them.

  40. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Electroman: Don’t forget that in the world of figurehead leaders is the “ventriloquist’s dummy.” While the Constitution has no provision for this to be permitted, it also has no procedure for preventing it. A figurehead leadership could simply be what we have now writ even larger–Trump making proclamations based on the work of others (as the various advisors and cabinet people provide now) simply leaving the “decide what I think is best” part omitted. We had some of that in the run up to Iraq.

  41. CSK says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    I would agree but for one thing: They need someone to coalesce behind. Palin bailed on them to become a reality show starlet. Then Trump came along to rescue them. Squash Trump, and you may put the fear of God into the next charlatan who pops up on the horizon. Another thing to remember is they they hate all the other Republicans. All of them.

    I could see them going off and forming a Loon Party of their own, and digging up some buffoon to front off for them. But how powerful would it be?

  42. Davebo says:


    Trump on the other hand, is in full vigor and traveled to Milwaukee to speak to the African-American voters.

    Not Milwaukee, West Bend. Which, as anyone familiar could tell you means that if every African-American there showed up for the speech he’d have spoken to two black folks.

  43. C. Clavin says:

    This is a little thick, but apropos with the Cheeto threatening to make America great again.
    Certainly Tyrell needs to read it.

    Far from being harmless, ‘the good old days’ is a virulent falsehood that infects those whose intellectual defences have been weakened by fear and insecurity. It is easily weaponised by power-hungry propagandists who seek to replace nuanced discourse with patriotic platitudes, and diverse ideologies with homogenous tribal nationalism: Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler, the Ku Klux Klan. In its endless incarnations this myth has shackled people’s thoughts and actions to the promise of a fiction, facilitating evil on all scales, from everyday racism to the greatest human rights catastrophes of the 20th century. Faced as we are with yet another global epidemic of golden age rhetoric, the time has come to inoculate ourselves against the good old days once and for all.

  44. Hal_10000 says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Basically, Bill Clinton will go to his grave letting people believe he convinced Trump to run for President.

    I am 60% certain that, at some point, some e-mail, note or recording will emerge indicating that, although the Clintons didn’t tell Trump to run, they encouraged him in some oblique fashion.

    I am 100% sure that, if that happens, the GOP will overplay their hand by demanding impeachment, criminal charges and burning at the stake.

  45. grumpy realist says:

    @C. Clavin: The best historical example of the nostalgia schtick being pulled was the Meiji Restoration, at the end of the Edo period. The guys who pulled it off did so by promising a return to “Ye Goode Olde Days”, then after getting into power, did a right 180 and threw Japan open to the world, realizing that there was no other way they could keep Japan going.

    Also had to have a counter-counter revolution against some of their previous samurai supporters who were pissed off that they had been lied to.

    Sort of reminds me of the comment made by Huey Long, IIRC: “son, if you can’t take their booze, women, and cash, then vote against them the very next day, you have no business being in politics.”

  46. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @CSK: Prediction: The next candidate the GOP base will coalesce behind will be named Rafael Edward Cruz. The don’t need to form a Loon Party–they have plenty of loons in the GOP, Ted is just the alpha loon.

  47. CS says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    But you do realize that the Trumpkins despise Cruz. They really, really hate his guts. They’re hoping he loses his senate seat.

    I read a bit every day at the pro-Trump sites, and the hatred of Cruz is visceral.

    And in any case, the man has the charisma of a squished toad on asphalt.

  48. Moosebreath says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    “Ted is just the alpha loon”

    As opposed to Marco Rubio, the panta loon?

  49. Jen says:

    Trump’s new TV ad buy is in the $5 mill. range. That seems low, doesn’t it? The July fundraising numbers pretty much happened before/during the RNC, before the major down spiral/campaign meltdown. I am wondering if fundraising has dried up so considerably that they are now in a position where they need to conserve cash?

  50. Neil Hudelson says:


    I don’t think it’s dried up. I can’t find the articles now, but the last few reports I’ve read about fundraiser events for Trump reported $1M+ raised per event. That would indicate to me that the campaign is starting to hone in on the mid to upper-mid tier donors. While I don’t think he’ll ever catch up to Hillary, he certainly can raise enough funds on a rolling basis to keep his campaign up and running. The issue isn’t his ability to pay for ads, it’s his complete lack of interest in running ads.

  51. CSK says:


    It’s very low, considering that Hillary Clinton spent something like 21 million in (I think) Pennsylvania alone.

    The cash shortfall the Trump campaign suffers from results from the fact that Trump is using the money he gets in donations to pay himself back the money he lent the campaign.

  52. MarkedMan says:


    Basically, Bill Clinton will go to his grave letting people believe he convinced Trump to run for President.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he did but am not sure why this is a bad thing. It’s easy to believe that if Clinton and Trump were together somewhere, Trump
    Would be talking Bill’s ear off about how everyone else was so stupid and all the answers are obvious to Trump. And Bill said ‘Donald, you’re so smart you should run’. Maybe even with half a mind towards pushing yet another clown into the Repiblican primary and stirring up the bees nest.

    But I don’t think for a minute that ol’ Bill would have encouraged him if he foresaw this outcome.

  53. anjin-san says:


    Given your long track record of being right about pretty much nothing – ever, I think your optimism will help calm some of the Hillary folks who are still feeling nervous down a bit. Now if we could just get a Bithead prediction about the coming Hillary meltdown, we could all sleep very soundly.

  54. Laurence Bachmann says:

    The historical events recounted here are irrefutable but there is a variable the author doesn’t factor into the article: all of the politicians cited were disciplined, seasoned pols who stayed on message, who developed and benefited from cohesive party infrastructures and who understood that after a primary, in America one MUST pivot to the center, becoming inclusive and in some regard be “homogenized”.

    Trump is a bloviating loose cannon. Thin-skinned and irritable he is at his worse when challenged (see three upcoming debates) or pressed for detailed, considered opinion. Further, NONE of the candidates mentioned were abandoned by scores of members of their intelligence, foreign service and economic policy advisors. Trump is anathema to 20-30% of his own party. It is a shocking deficit.

    If Hillary Clinton loses it will NOT be because Donald Trump does anything to mend his ways or to make him appealing to a majority of Americans. It will be because, in Secretary Clinton he has an opponent so ethically challenged and so mistrusted by the electorate that “an October surprise” might make her even less appealing than Trump, a proto-fascist narcissist.

    And that, is the pathetically depressing state of American politics.

  55. Thor thormussen says:

    voters like you are pretty depressing.

  56. Laurence Bachmann says:

    @Thor thormussen:

    The truth usually is.

  57. Tyrell says:

    @Neil Hudelson: It seems the local tv news is giving the floods more coverage than the news networks. The networks are giving Trump – Clinton about 90 % coverage and the rest is Olympic news. The Milwaukee riots did not get a whole lot of coverage. Meanwhile Russia is on the move.

  58. Grumpy Realist says:

    @CS: I love your description. Chortle.

  59. CSK says:

    @Grumpy Realist:

    Thank you. I’ve got a million of ’em.

  60. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @CS: I’ll stand by my prediction. For years is easily long enough for the loons to forget that Trump EVEN RAN, so they will embrace Cruz as the “true conservative” they’ve been waiting for. Just ask Florak.

  61. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Moosebreath: Thanks! I’ve been needing a laugh! 🙂

  62. Tyrell says:

    Now we have this Chris Matthews going around telling people “if your your not going to vote for Hillary, then don’t vote at all”. No thank you, Mr. Matthews, no thankyou. I have a mind of my own. It might not be much, but it works for me. And I am not going to have some two bit propaganda outlet tell me what to do.
    Matthews should be reporting news, not opinion.

  63. michael reynolds says:


    I am not going to have some two bit propaganda outlet tell me what to do.

    First, Chris Matthews is an opinion guy, not a news guy.

    And second, you’re buying the biggest, most transparent bullshit act in the history of American politics, but you’re not going to be outsmarted? How do you say that with a straight face?

  64. Loviatar says:


    I will look and see which candidate offers the best tax plan before deciding.

    – translated into english –

    I will sell my soul to the Devil if he promised me a lower marginal tax rate.

  65. Kylopod says:

    @C. Clavin:

    The only thing you left out that I can think of is Wikileaks or someone coming out with some kind of smoking gun regarding something or other.

    I was focusing in my post on theories that have either been disproven already (e.g. Bernie won’t endorse Hillary) or we more or less know by now are unlikely (e.g. the economy sliding into recession before November). There always could be some smoking gun, but after 25 years of mostly trumped up, exaggerated, or outright bogus accusations against Hillary, I’m not holding my breath. The important question with regard to the election is whether any new charges have the capacity to damage Hillary more than previous information has. She’s already viewed as untrustworthy and scandal-prone by much of the public, but by now that’s baked into the equation and is unlikely to pull away more voters, though I suppose a round of negative coverage could cause her poll numbers to drop the way they did immediately following the release of the FBI’s report a few months ago. We need to keep in mind that the vast majority of charges that Trump and the right lobs against her, as in the recent conspiracy theories about her health, end up being believed by no one outside the Fox/Breitbart bubble.

  66. C. Clavin says:


    I have a mind of my own.

    It’s about as existent as the golden olden days you pine for.
    And unicorns.

  67. C. Clavin says:

    The Trumpies are going all in on Clinton’s health.
    Desperation is an ugly thing to watch. And to enjoy.

  68. MarkedMan says:

    The “Hillary is corrupt” meme is so strong that I really worry something innocuous could bring her down. Recently, Colin Powell confirmed that he had written an email (ironic, that) to Clinton near the start of her term as Secretary of State, recommending that she use personal email and explaining how it had helped him when he used it. From today’s New York Times:

    Mr. Powell’s Office released a statement… He did write Mrs. Clinton an email memo… describing his use of his personal email account for unclassified messages “and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department”

    (You can head to the link and see that the elisions above don’t leave anything important out. It turns out that for some reason I can’t cut and paste from the Times article and I didn’t want to type any more than I had to. Anyone know how to get around that?)

    Will this change anyone’s mind? I doubt it. The fact is our own James Joyner sees Powell as an honest and upright man and therefore his use of personal email was perfectly ok because (waves hands).. reasons, while when Clinton does the same it is simply more proof that she is the devil incarnate, even though Powell himself recommended that course of action. Oh and by the way, Powell claims that all the government business emails in his private account (an AOL account, by the way) were lost and so he can’t turn any over. The Republican committee made no attempt to contact AOL and see if they could be recovered.

    I’m not attempting to pull Powell down in any way. The fact is that policy was, and remains: You can’t use email for anything classified. It doesn’t matter whether it was personal email or State Department email. And when Powell (and Rice for that matter) and Clinton took office, the only way to access State Department email was on a desktop computer or optionally on an obsolete, heavy, extremely slow and crash prone government laptop that took forever to boot up and needed an ethernet cable to connect. Rice’s top aides recognized it as unworkable in their era, Powell himself did the same in his, and the system still hadn’t improved by the time Clinton arrived. This was ridiculous then and now, especially for communications that by definition were not classified.

    My point in all this is, no matter how big a nothing-burger a Clinton “scandal” is, it can explode due to the well greased mechanism for putting it out and convincing people it is the next Iran Contra.

  69. Thor thormussen says:


    Fortunately, the GOP is saying, “You know how we’ve been babbling about emails and Benghazi for years? We’ll we’re also the kinda people who think the best guy for the job is Donald J Trump, so take everything we say with the Bonneville Salt Flats.”

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