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Reaching for the middle.

May 30, 2016

You pretty well know by now which voters are in the tank for which candidates. If you don’t, there’s bound to be some campaign PR hotshot or network news reader who will tell you.

Pissed off old gun-totin’ semi-literate white guys are voting for Trump. Lazy indolent brainwashed brats suffering from affluenza-envy are voting for Bernie. Every minority and most women are voting for Hillary and Bill.

In the middle are the others.

Who are the “others?” It seems that in this cycle, it’s the political hybrids.

These are the people who voted for “none of the above,” i.e. one of the 20 or so candidates who won’t even be footnotes in history ten years from now.

Incidentally, the 62 million people who never even register to vote aren’t the  “others”, because most of them aren’t susceptible to pitches from anyone. They’re kind of the human equivalent of Spanish moss.

If there was ever any hope of a third-party candidate winning the election, the others were that person’s base. Since the only logistically viable (as in qualified to be on the ballot in all 50 states) third party now seems to be the Libertarians, and since their candidates are even more toxic than Clinton and Trump, the others still don’t have a home.

Since polling typically is designed for the front-runners, it’s not even certain how many others there are.

Historically they average some 30-40% of eligible voters, but that figure is only extrapolated after the election. Typically the data released consists of the people who stayed home and the people who vote for some third-party outlier.

Some of the others are not going to vote no matter what, because they want the “perfect candidate,”  a mythical creature born of their own imaginations and biases.

In 2012, the others, 93 million of them to be exact  assuming you believe the online poll, literally handed President Obama a second term, when they stayed home in droves rather than vote for Mitt Romney.

40% of those nonvoters polled in the survey indicated that they have never voted, and 60% said that structural changes and “better candidates” would have gotten them off the couch.

In theory, that means there should be 55.8 million or so who could be persuaded to register an opinion on who is left over after the primaries.

The trick is to elevate their energy level without adding any of your existing active (or at least breathing) voters to their ranks.

Historically, the Democrats have been better at that than Republicans, but during this primary season, the GOP seemed to have found the answer, judging by the increased turnout at the polls.

Somehow the Bill-ary ( or is it Hill-iam?) ticket just isn’t resonating with the Democratic base like it has in the past.

Will that hold for the general? That depends on the GOP. Certainly the constant talk of a third-party ticket isn’t helping.

Donald Trump is the candidate because there were 16 other people in the race. The primary certainly didn’t suffer from a lack of choices. Rather, he’s the candidate because there were too many choices.

You’d think the party would have gotten the message that dividing the vote doesn’t work, but maybe they’re just in need of some remedial math courses. Reality certainly isn’t a concept they can comprehend.

Like it or not, the majority of the country just isn’t turned on by the puritanical hardline conservative message.

The party itself seems to have pretty much conceded the election already. Even those people who are slowly, grudgingly and bitterly now moving to support Trump don’t seem to want him to win. The ones who aren’t running for re-election are still actively opposing their own guy.

However Mr. Trump has managed to keep his balancing act alive this long, the GOP had better hope he stays on the wire. For his part, maybe he’d better get those buildings on the market now. He needs to buy or lease a crane with a really long boom for the next six months if he wants to reach the middle.

From → op-ed

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