Last week Steve Schale, who is one of the smartest Floridians out there predicted the state wouldn’t be a slam dunk for Democrats and reminded us that Rick Scott won twice with upside down favorable/unfavorable numbers. Many around the state in Democratic circles mocked Schale’s analysis – but why? Most of the push back was based on theories and the opinions of those operating in a bubble, and employed the same sort of internal groupthink that characterizes much of the continued optimism Democrats hold in Florida without any real empirical evidence to back up their hopes. Schale wrote two articles last week both of which were spot on from my perspective. I would recommend those on the left politically read both pieces with total objectivity and understand the case he’s making.
Today, new battleground Q-polls were released that showed clearly that three swing states including Florida will be competitive in a Trump v Clinton matchup. Having gone through the 2004 election cycle in this state where the GOP was able to spike turnout for George W. Bush even though we kept hearing from Republican politicos that many were going to skip the race or vote for John Kerry, I realize the opinions of political insiders about Trump’s weakness and the number of elite GOPers jumping ship really means very little in the bigger scheme of things. Besides the political media, those who cover elected officials and political consultants for a living have been almost all wrong about the Trump phenomena for a year – leaving us legitimately questioning the value of some piece of their analysis this election cycle.
History is often our guide as to how these elections will turn out. However, this campaign and the two candidates are markedly different than what we’ve seen before in American politics from major political parties. So while in some cases history may be instructive in others this cycle we have to assume a clean slate and be more open and creative with how we analyze events.
Polls may not be the most accurate reflection of Trump’s support quite honestly in my opinion. A social stigma exists for many about openly backing Donald Trump. Like George Wallace or the infamous George Deukmejian victory over Tom Bradley in the 1982 California governor’s race, voters might be telling pollsters what they want to hear. So it should be of even greater concern that Trump is even remotely competitive.
Secretary Clinton is a flawed candidate and despite the protestations of those within the Democratic Party and left-leaning community about her viability. chances are quite good that he negatives are so high that as polarizing as Trump is the race will remain competitive for the duration of the campaign. While it is entirely possible the Democrats could have avoided a tight election with another nominee, they’re selected Clinton so it is really anyone’s guess how this thing will turn out.
So buckle up and get ready for a cycle that is largely undefined and unlike those of the past. While history can often be our guide, it might be less relevant this go-round than in the past – with the exception of the social stigma polling matter I discussed above or perhaps the 2004 Presidential race here in Florida.
The Democrats have to room to feel confident or cocky. They’ve oozed confidence before and then had everything blow up in their faces. Let’s hope 2016 isn’t a repeat performance of that.