You do not have to be an experienced seafarer to know that, when monstrously dark clouds begin to gather, you are in for some rough seas. Unfortunately, this ominous political horizon lies dead ahead. With maddeningly persistent civil unrest occurring in multiple cities across the nation and nasty Coronavirus numbers coming out of the Sun Belt, there is much to process in the next 99 days. That’s right, only 99 days until voters choose who will occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in January 2021. Will the great unknown of the next few months determine the outcome of the election, or are the results already baked into the cake?
Set the Oven to 350, Please
This week Rasmussen published a poll that didn’t get much play in the mainstream media. In it, they asked 1,000 respondents the question: “Do you still favor the candidate you liked at the beginning of the year, or have you switched your support to another candidate? Or are you still undecided?” Lo and behold, a whopping 75% of those surveyed are sticking with the candidate they liked at the beginning of the year. Only 16% switched candidates, and 8% say they are undecided.
This is a significant tell that weighs in on the side of the election result being already baked in. Both candidates are well known. Little in the way of mystery surrounds either man. As such, whether the COVID-19 numbers spike or the economy stays where it is, neither will have a consequential effect on voters because, for the most part, they have already made up their minds.
Something else this survey suggests is that most polls from here on out can be either ignored or taken with a grain of salt. With the toxic political climate, the silent voter is more likely than ever to head underground. These uncountable votes, presumably for Mr. Trump, were evident in 2016, and Democrats worry that they remain to this day. Based on the Rasmussen study cited here, there is reason to be anxious because 75% of voters are still in the same political camp.
Things That Matter Most
While the political landscape appears to be quite atypical this presidential election year, one wonders if those differences will ultimately have any meaning. Both political conventions will be wildly dissimilar to any in recent memory, but conventions are for the party faithful, not for the rank and file voter. It’s highly doubtful that either the Democratic or Republican convention will change the mind of a meaningful number of voters. Indeed, political conventions are not even designed to do so, but rather to whip up the ground forces for the busy task ahead of getting their man elected.
The debates are a wild card. If the two men go forward with their planned debates (and this writer is unconvinced they will), we could see some voter movement. Debates, after all, provide an unfiltered view of the candidate, and both verbal and non-verbal cues from the candidates can affect an undecided voter. What if Joe Biden takes the stage with a clear, coherent message? Alternatively, what if his performance reveals cognitive decline? What if President Trump is not at the top of his game and allows Biden to put him on defense? These variables are what make the coming debates a notable factor in the election. But in the end, these televised events will only be speaking to that 8% of people who say they are undecided.
Should the civil unrest continue at the current pace, it may factor in, come election day. The year 2020 does bear similarities to 1968. Both years saw civil unrest in a polarized political climate. The website 270 To Win harkened back to the turbulent year of ’68:
“It was a wrenching national experience, conducted against a backdrop that included the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and subsequent race riots across the nation, the assassination of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, widespread demonstrations against the Vietnam War across American university and college campuses, and violent confrontations between police and anti-war protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.”
Yet Nixon’s law and order platform carried the day. Liberty Nation’s Washington Political Columnist Tim Donner sums up the Nixon/Humphrey match this way:
“The 1968 presidential election is strikingly analogous to the one we face this year. At a moment of tumult and violence across the land, Richard Nixon, like Trump widely mistrusted per his nickname Tricky Dick, made law and order the centerpiece of his campaign and won the electoral vote 301-191. And it would have been even more of a rout if George Wallace had not run as an independent and captured five southern states Nixon most certainly would have won in a head-to-head matchup with Democrat Hubert Humphrey.”
Without George Wallace running on the American Independent ticket, Nixon would have been staring at 347 electoral votes. Let’s not forget that a not-so-popular Richard Nixon picked up 49 states in the tumultuous year of 1972 as well – again using a law and order platform.
All this points to the possibility that the 99 days ahead will not determine the election and that voters’ minds are primarily made up. Depending upon which side of the political aisle you walk, this may be either comforting or confounding news.
Read more by Leesa K. Donner.