David Brooks had an interesting column in the New York Times yesterday lambasting the Republican Party for ceding the summer to the Democrats, especially during their recent conventions.
His column proceeds to go through a laundry list of issues Trump’s nomination has allowed the Democrats to take as their own like: Judeo-Christian values, decency, patriotism, optimism, and self rule.
He ridicules the sane and reasonable Republicans for allowing their party to be taken over by an extremist like Trump, which lead to a convention void of many of the party’s rising stars. The Democrats, meanwhile, had a star studded cast of political leaders and validators speaking on Hillary Clinton’s behalf. Brooks, like many others, says the Democrats had the better convention.
A lot of Democrats would argue that they never ceded the values Brooks mentioned to the GOP in the first place, but the rest of what he lays out in the first part of his column is true.
This weeks Democratic convention laid out a much more optimistic view of the country than the Republicans did in their convention last week. History suggests a positive view of the country resonates with voters more than a darker view of it, regardless of how well or poorly things are going. So, in theory, Democrats seem to be in a better position than the GOP heading into the fall.
However, this brings me to a question I have been asking for some time now; why is this election so close?
Donald Trump is an unstable bigot who is the result of the most extreme elements in the Republican Party gaining an ever increasing foothold among their base over the last few decades.
Democrats on the other hand have nominated someone in Hillary Clinton who has experience in government, a strong command of the issues, and a much better temperament to handle the rigors of the job.
Throughout this year, Donald Trump has made a number of horrible and offensive statements. We won’t go into all of them since they are pretty well known, but his most recent hits have included once again suggesting Ted Cruz’s father was linked to the JFK assassination, and practicality begging Russia to commit cyber espionage to find the emails Clinton deleted off of her private email server in the hopes it will help him win the election.
How, despite all of Trump’s remarks and antics is he tied or in some cases ahead of Clinton? How, despite the fact Clinton’s campaign and SuperPAC are spending millions of dollars in unanswered advertisements in battleground states, is this not a 10-point race?
This question has been in the back of my mind since it became clear this was going to be the general election match up; even in the heyday’s of June when Clinton had a four to five point lead over Trump in the polls.
Brooks suggests it may be because the political norms no longer apply; that the Democrats are winning a game that is no longer being played. Maybe this is true. This year has certainly been an up is down, black is white election cycle.
Or maybe, just maybe, it is because of another thought that has been burrowed in the back of my mind ever since the race for the White House began last year; that for some reason, I cannot see this country electing Hillary Clinton president, regardless of the circumstances.
Don’t get me wrong, Clinton is still the favorite given her demographic and electoral college advantages. And we have yet to see whether Clinton will get a convention bounce now that she is the official Democratic nominee and a number of Sanders holdouts now seem to be on board. I still think she has about a 55% chance of winning in November. Still, that is way too close for comfort.
David Brooks may think Democrats won the summer. But when you take a step back and look at everything that has gone on this year, and continue to see the numbers are still as close as they are, it sure doesn’t feel like it.