Trump could win

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Su­san Estrich

On the af­ter­noon of Elec­tion Day 2016, I was do­ing an Elec­tion Day panel with my old friend Bob Shrum, with whom I’ve won some and lost some, and who I have re­spected for decades. He was com­fort­able. Mor­ley Wino­grad, the long­time and much-re­spected head of the Demo­cratic Party of Michi­gan, as­sured me that Michi­gan would be fine. I emailed another old friend, for­mer Bill Clin­ton poll­ster Doug Schoen, and while he and Bob and I are all in­her­ently anx­ious, he, too, was com­fort­able. As for me, I was not com­fort­able. I had can­celed my class the day be­fore be­cause I didn’t want to tell my stu­dents that Hil­lary Clin­ton would win, but I didn’t want to tell them that she would lose.

No one knows more about Michi­gan than I do, but Bob and Doug know way more about polling than I do, so I would never claim to be smarter than my friends. Part of my in­sight came from re­mem­ber­ing how hard it had al­ways been for Democrats to win the votes of white males; but most of it, I fear, came from be­ing a woman and hav­ing done end­less re­search on how vot­ers re­act to Hil­lary Clin­ton. That and spend­ing months on the road in 2006 pro­mot­ing a book called “The Case for Hil­lary Clin­ton,” and be­ing at­tacked wher­ever I went. It felt like peo­ple had con­fused me with Clin­ton, and it wasn’t fun.

So, ex­cuse my learned pes­simism. Win­ning pres­i­den­tial elec­tions is hard if you are a Demo­crat. That for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama made it look easy is a mea­sure of not only chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics but also his abil­ity to cross bound­aries — against a can­di­date who never played the kind of race pol­i­tics Don­ald Trump has al­ready, even be­fore Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Joe Bi­den chose Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris as his vice pres­i­dent. The elec­toral map tends to fa­vor Repub­li­cans, and his­tory tends to fa­vor in­cum­bents.

The polls show a close elec­tion, not a land­slide. A bunch of states that it would be nice if Joe Bi­den had locked up are still in play. Florida is still a tossup. Michi­gan is lean­ing, far from cer­tain. Two weeks past La­bor Day, there’s no lock there.

And we all know Trump will stop at noth­ing. And that only a clean win will avoid weeks of count­ing.

Many oth­er­wise-smart

Democrats sim­ply can­not un­der­stand how any­one could be un­de­cided in this race, much less plan­ning to vote for Don­ald Trump, with­out be­ing a full-blown racist, sex­ist or id­iot. Oh, yes, or a bil­lion­aire who has more money than he can spend and only cares about taxes. This is a big hand­i­cap — for Democrats.

And as for be­ing un­de­cided, what uni­verse could they pos­si­bly be in? There are Trump peo­ple ask­ing the same ques­tion. Re­ally? Even with 200,000 dead this year while the pres­i­dent was “down­play­ing the threat” and walk­ing around mask­less; with the econ­omy in ut­ter col­lapse and states writ­ing checks they will never re­pay; with the western states burn­ing and the south­east flood­ing and the pres­i­dent deny­ing global warm­ing, you re­ally haven’t de­cided?

Yup. Some peo­ple re­ally haven’t, and it does us no good to mock them.

If you’re fol­low­ing the news out­lets I do, it, frankly, is hard to be­lieve. But there’s an al­ter­na­tive world out there, on chan­nels that look like mine but por­tray Amer­i­can cities in flames, men and women in blue un­der as­sault, and, of course, im­mi­grant crim­i­nals storm­ing our bor­ders and mur­der­ing in our streets. If that were re­ally hap­pen­ing in cities across Amer­ica, you might be scared, too. It isn’t; it’s “fake news.” But how do you call “fake news” on a pres­i­dent who has turned the very name into a joke? It doesn’t mat­ter how out­ra­geous his tweets are be­cause he has surely tweeted worse. But if you’re retweet­ing memes of the far right, only to be caught when one ap­pears on the pro­gram of the party, you are bound to con­trib­ute to a world that does not ex­ist.

This is not one of those elec­tions where we need a pres­i­dent as good as his peo­ple, although we surely do. We need peo­ple who will be smarter than their pres­i­dent and their fa­vorite news an­chor give them credit for.

To find out more about Su­san Estrich and read fea­tures by other Cre­ators Syn­di­cate writ­ers and car­toon­ists, visit the Cre­ators Syn­di­cate web­site at www. cre­ators.com.

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