Donald Trump and the polls

According to Andrew Prokop at Vox, it’s now time to start taking polls seriously. And, it seems this spells trouble for Donald Trump.[1]

But even following Prokop’s logic, his conclusion that Donald Trump is in trouble in the polls is a bit less meaningful than he makes it seem. First, while polls allegedly become more meaningful at this point in the campaign, they’re barely on the cusp of doing so. Which means they’re still in that fuzzy area between alleged meaninglessness and alleged meaningfulness. But second, as Prokop noted, there’s still much that can happen.[2] And in a campaign season as unusual as this one, that introduces a great deal more uncertainty. Pundits have been wrong a lot more often this time and we probably can expect that they will continue to be so.

Specifically, three factors have yet to play out. First, I still think that Republicans will manage to come out of their convention singing Kumbaya. It doesn’t sense. It never will make sense. But it’s important to remember that Republicans probably feel even more strongly about Democrats than Democrats feel about Republicans. Polarization is that bad.[3] That means that all the feuding we presently see among Republicans will simply vanish. Poof! It will be gone.

Second, we haven’t heard anything definitive yet about Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. That may be coming up in early May. From what we know now, she will probably not be indicted, but that doesn’t make the issue go away. As she, herself, has acknowledged, it still reflects badly on her judgment,[4] especially if you’re concerned about national security. But the other problem will be the appearance that she will not be indicted because of her connections to the Obama administration.[5] This is compounded by a perception that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has rigged the primary process in support of Clinton at Bernie Sanders’ expense.[6] Even apart from all her history and everything the Republicans have thrown at her for her time with the Obama administration, Clinton simply reeks of corruption in a campaign year where people seem especially concerned about insider influence.

Third, even apart from the email and the DNC scandals, the Republican attacks on Clinton have barely begun. The Democratic Party faithful will continue to be faithful. For anyone else, this is about the lesser of two especially egregious evils.[7] Clinton is an especially weak candidate.[8] Her rationale for running seems to be that because she’s a woman, it’s her turn, and people should vote for her in spite of everything else.[9] Again, she’ll get the Democratic Party faithful with this. But I still think she’ll lose a lot of votes among everyone else,[10] especially after the Republicans ramp up (they’ll still be smearing her on the day she dies) their brutal attacks.

Still, it’s always possible we may be at a point where Donald Trump is finally managing to hurt himself with his outrageous remarks. I can’t justify that suspicion. A lot of people have thought it, and so far, they’ve all been astonishingly wrong. Will that change? It’s probably foolish to try to guess.

  1. [1]Andrew Prokop, “Donald Trump has collapsed in general election polls,” Vox, March 31, 2016,
  2. [2]Andrew Prokop, “Donald Trump has collapsed in general election polls,” Vox, March 31, 2016,
  3. [3]David Benfell, “The illegitimacy of the opposing party,” Not Housebroken, February 23, 2016,
  4. [4]Robert O’Harrow, Jr., “How Clinton’s email scandal took root,” Washington Post, March 27, 2016,; Del Quentin Wilber, “Clinton email probe enters new phase as FBI interviews loom,” Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2016,
  5. [5]Ruth Marcus, “Why a no-indictment for Hillary Clinton would still be a problem for America,” Washington Post, March 29, 2016,
  6. [6]Ryan Cooper, “Hillary Clinton and the awful risk of winning ugly,” Week, December 21, 2015,; Christian Drake, “New Information Shows DNC Violated Its Own Rules When It Shut Down Sanders Campaign Data Access,” Addicting Info, December 19, 2015,; Jonathan Easley, “Dem rivalry takes nasty turn,” Hill, December 19, 2015,; Ben Kamisar, “Sanders sues Democratic Party,” Hill, December 18, 2015,; Lauren McCauley, “Thumb on the Scale? DNC Backs Off Bernie But Questions of Neutrality Linger,” Common Dreams, December 19, 2015,; Michael Sainato, “The Countless Failings of the DNC,” Observer, March 27, 2016,; Greg Sargent, “The DNC needs to restore Bernie Sanders’ access to voter data — fast,” Washington Post, December 18, 2015,; Megan R. Wilson, “DNC rolls back restrictions on lobbyist donations,” Hill, February 12, 2016,; Caitlin Yilek, “Ex-Obama adviser: DNC ‘putting finger on scale’ for Hillary,” Hill, December 18, 2015,
  7. [7]Michael Barbaro, “Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Are Winning Votes, but Not Hearts,” New York Times, March 15, 2016,
  8. [8]Steve Almond, “Hillary will never survive the Trump onslaught: It’s not fair, but it makes her a weak nominee,” Salon, March 14, 2016,
  9. [9]Jill Abramson, “‘Hillary, can you excite us?’: The trouble with Clinton and young women,” Guardian, January 24, 2016,; Madeleine Albright, “My Undiplomatic Moment,” New York Times, February 12, 2016,; Dana Bolger, “Dear New York Times: The Real Reason Young Feminists Reject Hillary,” Feministing, December 17, 2015,; Maria Bustillos, “You don’t have to be a bro to support Bernie Sanders,” Los Angeles Times, February 10, 2016,; Amy Chozick, “’90s Scandals Threaten to Erode Hillary Clinton’s Strength With Women,” New York Times, January 20, 2016,; Amy Chozick and Yamiche Alcindor, “Moms and Daughters Debate Gender Factor in Hillary Clinton’s Bid,” New York Times, December 12, 2015,; chrisgeary2016 [pseud.], “bell hooks, black feminist, can no longer be a Hillary supporter,” Daily Kos, March 12, 2016,; Maureen Dowd, “Hillary Battles Bernie Sanders, Chick Magnet,” New York Times, February 6, 2016,; Maureen Dowd, “When Hillary Clinton Killed Feminism,” New York Times, February 13, 2016,; Liza Featherstone, “Hillary Clinton’s Faux Feminism,” Truthout, February 28, 2016,; Evan Halper, “Why young feminists are choosing Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton,” Los Angeles Times, February 3, 2016,; Zoë Heller, “Hillary & Women,” review of Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works, by Jay Newton-Small, and My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency, by Doug Henwood, New York Review of Books, April 7, 2016,; Silpa Kovvali, “Bill, Hillary and the women: Should millennials care about Bill Clinton’s sex scandals?” Salon, January 8, 2016,; Alan Rappeport, “Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright Scold Young Women Backing Bernie Sanders,” New York Times, February 7, 2016,; Robert Scheer, “Go Ahead, Back Hillary Clinton and Forget All About Her Record,” Truthdig, October 9, 2015,; Gail Sheehy, “The Women Who Should Love Hillary Clinton,” New York Times, January 29, 2016,; Donna Smith, “An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton from One Progressive Woman,” Common Dreams, January 23, 2016,; Karen Tumulty and Frances Stead Sellers, “For Hillary Clinton, old news or new troubles?” Washington Post, January 6, 2016,;
  10. [10]Ryan Cooper, “Hillary Clinton and the awful risk of winning ugly,” Week, December 21, 2015,; Edward-Isaac Dovere and Gabriel Debenedetti, “Sanders spotlights Clinton vulnerabilities,” Politico, February 4, 2016,; Evan Halper and Michael A. Memoli, “If Bernie Sanders loses, his backers may not be there for Hillary Clinton in November,” Los Angeles Times, February 6, 2016,; Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Clintons Have Lost the Working Class,” New Yorker, February 10, 2016,; Matthew Yglesias, “The surprising success of Bernie Sanders’s insurgency should be a wake-up call to the Democratic establishment,” Vox, February 2, 2016,; Aaron Zitner, “Hillary Clinton’s White-Voter Problem May Change Election Math,” Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2015,

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