Voting patterns mean Trump could win (really)

Unthinkable? This tied election would give the Republican-dominated House a casting vote.

There are 99 days until the US presidential election. Many consider the prospect of a Donald Trump victory unthinkable. But now one industry-leading pollster says it is very possible.

He wants to deport 11m people, place a travel ban on all Muslims, start trade wars and make Mexico pay for a wall across its border with the USA. He has praised Saddam Hussein and questioned where President Obama was born. He has called on Russia to release information which could be sensitive to US national security and suggested he would not uphold the NATO treaty.

Donald Trump’s ideas may soon be tested. If the US presidential election had been held this weekend, he would probably have won. On Friday Nate Silver, the world’s most famous statistician, rated his chances in a hypothetical election that day at 52.9%.

Hillary Clinton is still the favourite to win the real contest in November. Silver gives her a 60.1% chance of becoming president; other pollsters put her chances as high as 83%. But since April, Trump has almost wiped out her lead in national polls.

Trump’s unusual candidacy makes predictions tricky. The final outcome rests largely on results in a handful of battleground states. And like the successful Brexit campaign, Trump could mobilise voters who seem to have lost faith in democracy.

In his recent speech to the Republican convention he promised to ‘put America first’ and made a call to the ‘ignored, neglected and abandoned’, adding ‘I am your voice’. In key rust belt states, this could win over socially conservative and working class voters who dislike intellectualism and perceived political correctness; blame free trade for damaging their job prospects; and see US foreign policy as too selfless.

In her convention speech, Clinton said: ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself’ – but this may seem lofty to Americans concerned by terrorism and recent violence. Her array of celebrity endorsements could also backfire among poorer voters; and she is threatened by scandal, poor personal ratings and apathy in her own party. Even Obama’s endorsement could make her vulnerable: a big majority of Americans think the country is on the wrong track.

Trump card

Some now predict a Trump win. His emotional message is more in tune with the times than Clinton’s sanctimonious lectures and upbeat platitudes. Clinton’s embrace of identity politics will alienate centrist white male voters, and she is personally tainted. Trump is defying political gravity, and his opponents have no idea how to fight him.

Clinton is favourite for a reason, respond others. Trump is an absurd candidate who will never win sensible Americans’ support. His divisive rhetoric and repulsive conduct render him unfit for office. Clinton is well qualified and experienced; Trump is an ignorant, incoherent voice of protest. Once the campaign gets going, she will embarrass him.

You Decide

  1. Would you vote for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump or neither of them?
  2. Who will win the US presidential election?

Activities

  1. Summarise this article in five sentences of your own. Then, in one sentence, explain who you think will win the election and why.
  2. How can pollsters and experts predict the outcome of an election? Prepare a two-minute presentation explaining how political predictions can be made, and how reliable they are.

Some People Say...

“People vote based on their emotions.”

What do you think?

Q & A

I am not American. Would a Trump victory affect me?
The US presidency affects people around the world. For example, if Trump does not uphold the US commitment to the NATO treaty, that could leave eastern European countries vulnerable to attack from Russia. Many could become concerned that the powerful USA is no longer protecting democracy, which allows people like you to choose their governments. It would also mean radical changes to world trade — which would affect how well off we all are.
Could there be an upside to a Trump presidency?
That depends on your point of view. If you feel current systems are outdated and need radical change, or are fed up with the same people dominating politics, you may see an upside. But overthrowing the status quo could lead to extreme chaos.

Word Watch

NATO
Trump has said he would respond to an invasion of eastern Europe based on whether the affected country had ‘fulfilled their obligations to us’.
Nate Silver
Called the 2012 election correctly in all 50 states.
83%
The estimate of pollsters at Princeton University.
April
Clinton’s lead was 8%.
Battleground
A candidate who wins a state wins all its votes (apart from two states with proportional representation) in the electoral college, which chooses the president, so close-fought states are very important.
America first
A movement which aimed to keep the USA out of the second world war. Some within it were accused of sympathising with Hitler.
Rust belt
Parts of the midwest and northeast where industry has declined.
Terrorism
In a June poll by Bloomberg, 47% said Obama makes the USA look weak on terror by avoiding the phrase ‘radical Islam’; 44% disagreed.
Scandal
The FBI say Clinton as secretary of state was ‘extremely careless’ to store classified information on a private email account.
Wrong track
Last week 18% told Reuters the USA was going in the right direction; 68% disagreed.