Elec­tion 2016 is not about the can­di­dates

The Covington News - - OPINION - SCOTT RAS­MUSSEN COLUM­NIST To find out more about Scott Ras­mussen and read fea­tures by other Cre­ators Syn­di­cate writ­ers and car­toon­ists, visit www.cre­ators.com.

This was a big week for the po­lit­i­cal press. That means it was also a good week for high­light­ing how the world of the po­lit­i­cal elite is so out of touch with the world of ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans.

The ex­cite­ment for the pun­dits was launched by the an­nounce­ment that for­mer Sec­re­tary of State, se­na­tor and first lady Hil­lary Clin­ton is do­ing what was ex­pected and run­ning for pres­i­dent. This en­abled breath­less com­men­tary about whether driv­ing cross-coun­try in a van and eat­ing a bur­rito will present Sec­re­tary Clin­ton in a more pos­i­tive light.

Ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans, on the other hand, rec­og­nized that noth­ing had re­ally changed.

It is time for the pun­dits to get a grip and re­al­ize that the elec­tion for pres­i­dent is not about the can­di­dates lust­ing for the job. It’s not about cam­paign strate­gies, speeches, gotcha jour­nal­ism and gaffes. It is about the fun­da­men­tals and the state of the na­tion.

Here are five keys to un­der­stand­ing Elec­tion 2016. 1) It’s all about per­sonal fi­nances — Some be­lieve it’s about the econ­omy, which is a close sub­sti­tute. But what re­ally mat­ters is how peo­ple feel about their own per­sonal fi­nances. If peo­ple are feel­ing much bet­ter about their own fi­nances in a year, that would be good news for the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee. If things stay the same or get worse, it’s bad news for the pres­i­dent’s party.

2) Pres­i­dent Obama’s Job Ap­proval — The pres­i­dent gets bet­ter rat­ings to­day than he did dur­ing the mid-term elec­tions, but is still in dan­ger­ously low ter­ri­tory. If his ap­proval rat­ings don’t im­prove, the GOP will be fa­vored to win the White House. If it goes back down, there may be no hope for the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee. 3) The Big Blue Wall is a Myth — Democrats ar­gue that all they have to do is win states that con­sis­tently voted for their party since 1992 and they just about have the Elec­toral Col­lege locked up. The prob­lem with this the­ory is that it’s the re­sult of the Repub­li­cans win­ning a ma­jor­ity of the popular vote only once in the past six elec­tions. If a Repub­li­can does bet­ter in the popular vote, he or she will win some of those states Democrats think they have locked up.

4) De­mo­graph­ics are a side story — Lots of arm­chair an­a­lysts ad­vance their cause with de­mo­graphic claims. In the wake of Clin­ton’s an­nounce­ment, for ex­am­ple, many have noted that she might do bet­ter than Pres­i­dent Obama among women. But if that’s true, it doesn’t elim­i­nate the pos­si­bil­ity that she might do worse among men. Or that black turnout may be down or Lati­nos less hos­tile to the GOP. The larger trends based upon per­sonal fi­nances and per­cep­tions of Pres­i­dent Obama are far more im­por­tant.

5) Tech En­trepreneurs Are the Real Source of Hope and Change — While par­ti­sans be­lieve that the world will end if their team doesn’t win, the truth is that pol­i­tics is not the way that change takes place in Amer­ica. The cul­ture comes first, and pol­i­tics lags be­hind. The ad­vances com­ing from Sil­i­con Val­ley have a far big­ger im­pact on the na­tion than any­thing the next pres­i­dent will do.

It’s a lot less fun to rec­og­nize that the fun­da­men­tals mat­ter more than the cam­paign trivia li­on­ized by po­lit­i­cal re­porters. But it’s also re­as­sur­ing to note that the ul­ti­mate de­ci­sion is based more on re­al­ity than can­di­dates.

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