There’s just three months left of what’s already felt like an eternal US Presidential election, but unlike in most races in almost a generation, the result seems rather certain already.
Hillary Clinton has opened up a sizeable post-convention lead over Republican adversary Donald Trump, with the onslaught of negative press surrounding Trump’s gaffes including (but not limited to) offending the family of a dead Muslim-American soldier and mildly suggesting assassination of his opponent.
The boffins of 538 suggest that as things stand Clinton has a 76% chance of winning and should pull off a comfortable win. Whilst only leading by 4 or 5 percentage points in the national popular vote, in America the Electoral College is the decider – where each state’s individual winner is assigned a number of votes depending on its’ population – and there the lead is a lot more secure leading 316-221 (where 270 is enough to win).
But while Clinton is fast becoming the natural choice for President for many Americans there’s still some caution to be had. American elections may take forever, but the last few weeks and days are just as crucial – and Clinton hasn’t been immune to her share of criticism either.
There still exists a scenario where Donald Trump will take over the White House, but the door is being shut on him quickly.
What we’ve seen, though, is that Trump gets a bump in the polls when there are terrorist atrocities around the world such as the nightclub shooting in Orlando or the Paris truck attacks. These seem to underline Trump’s mantra that radical Islam is a major threat to the American public and the undecided voters begin to sway towards the Donald because of it.
The sad truth is in the world as we live in there is always the chance of another attack, and that plays into Trump’s hands.
Another problem is that Hillary Clinton’s ties to unscrupulous use of a personal email server to house classified intel while she was Secretary of State continue to haunt her campaign.
While those who vote for Trump and claim to do so because of Clinton’s emails are more than likely voters who would have went into the red column anyway, what might be more dangerous is the possibility that enough voters feel unwilling to vote for Clinton and either stay home or vote for a third party.
For Clinton to be sure of victory, she needs to harness a momentum around her in the way that Barack Obama did so well in his 2008 election to mobilise those who generally don’t vote and to be sure that her lead in the polls translates to a win at the ballot box.
And finally there is also the game-changer of the Presidential debates, which are scheduled to kick-off in late September and run through to the last week of the campaign. These will be the only head-to-head match ups between the two would-be Presidents, and they’re influence in previous elections have showed that they are crucial in convincing American’s that they’re the right person to be in charge.
Clinton is an assured performer but one who will value substance more than style, which is what should be expected of a President but not exactly ideal debating material up against a blusterer like Donald Trump who’ll use every weapon in his arsenal to paint her as the enemy to his legions of fans and, he’ll hope, to undecided voters too.
Hillary Clinton is set to be America’s first ever woman President, but there’s no room for complacency.
I mentioned earlier the last time a Presidential race looked over and done with this early and it was in 1988 for the successor to Ronald Reagan. George Bush Snr. won the election, but trailed Democratic challenger Michael Dukakis by a massive 17 points in early August. 2016’s election is almost like no other, but history shows that Clinton may be the likely winner but nowhere near President-elect yet.
The Presidential race has turned into “The Tortoise and the Hare”, and while Clinton may be in enough of a lead, she’s got to beware the slow competitor with a hard shell that could end up winning on the line.