Opinion

Possibility Grows Of Epic Trump Electoral Victory

Donald Trump: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Stewart Lawrence Stewart J. Lawrence is a Washington, D.C.-based public policy analyst who writes frequently on immigration and Latino affairs. He is also founder and managing director of Puentes & Associates, Inc., a bilingual survey research and communications firm.

For months Hillary Clinton and her supporters have tried to convince everyone – Democrats, the mainstream media and even the GOP – that her triumph in the 2016 presidential race was inevitable.

Now, with barely eight days left until the final balloting concludes, a new narrative is emerging.

Donald Trump, a businessman with no prior political experience — could be poised for an “epic” victory.

Really?

Yes, really.

A week ago, an ABC-Washington Post tracking poll was reporting Clinton with a 12-point lead over Trump, one of her largest ever. Break out the champagne, many senior Democrats crowed.  Trump‘s finished.

And then, just like that, Clinton’s lead vanished.

In just four days, Trump closed her lead to two, and then one.  The latest polls released this week may well show him ahead.

What’s happening?

There’s a sea-change occurring in public opinion that Clinton and her allies don’t want to admit.

After weeks of trying to depict Trump as a compulsive groper and a sexual predator, the so-called “average” voter wants to hear about the issues again.

Issues like the no-growth recovery, persistent joblessness, deteriorating inner cities, illegal immigration, and Obamacare – all of them big negatives for the incumbent

And Clinton, who’s trying to run on an Obama legacy that’s increasingly hard to defend, has little to say in response – other than to call Trump names and hope that voters get distracted from the real stakes in the election.

If you don’t think Trump’s “change” message is resonating, check out the results of a remarkable Breitbart/Gravis poll conducted late last week.

Like so many other polls – virtually all now, it seems — it shows the 2016 race as a dead heat – but with Trump gaining.

The poll was conducted nationwide among 1,260 registered voters.  While voters expressed concern about the ability of both candidates to unify and lead the country, on the issues, they clearly favored Trump.

For example:

  • 47% said they agreed with Trump’s approach to trade policy, including terminating NAFTA and TPP agreements; only 28% agreed with Clinton’s approach.
  • Only 34% said they thought ObamaCare had succeeded compared to 54% who said it had failed. 63% said they disapproved of Clinton’s proposed refugee policies, with 57% saying they wanted to see current refugee admissions, especially Syrians, terminated or reduced.
  • A whopping 76% said they were concerned about illegal immigration and securing the southern border. 49% described themselves as “extremely concerned,” compared to just 17% who said they were “not concerned.”
  • Overall, 55% said they wanted to see a change from Obama policies, compared to just 40% who favored a continuation.

And it’s not just the policy issues.  Voters are also gravitating toward Trump’s characterization of Clinton as a member of a corrupt political establishment, and of the need for the country to radically change course.

For example:

  • 52% said they felt that Clinton had been selling political influence through the Clinton Foundation; only 32% disagreed.
  • 51% said they believe the FBI should have prosecuted Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified information on her private email server, compared to just 42% who disagreed.
  • 58% agreed with the statement that “If Hillary Clinton wins the election, special interests and political elites win.” Only 35 percent disagreed.
  • Even more striking, 61% said they felt the 2016 election was “the best chance in our lives to take back our government and change course.” Just 33 percent disagreed.

According to the ABC-Washing and Gravis polls, two rapid demographic shifts are occurring in the electorate that account for Trump’s gathering strength.

First, Republicans are “coming home.”  In past polls, just 80% of the GOP electorate backed Trump, with the remainder either undecided or leaning toward Clinton.  By contrast, in the ABC-Washington Post poll, more than 90% of Republicans registered support for Trump.   Apparently, the vast majority — including GOP women put off by some of Trump’s public remarks — are figuring out where their real interests lie.

Second, many supporters of Gary Johnson as well as those who’ve claimed they were undecided are beginning to swing toward Trump.  In the Breitbart/Gravis poll, Johnson received support from just 3% of the respondents, well below his averages in past polls.  Jill Stein registered a bare 1%.   Just 4% were undecided.

It’s a common pattern, according to polling experts.  In a change election like 2016, undecideds tend to break late for the insurgent challenger.  While Clinton is not, technically, an incumbent, she has closely aligned herself with the party in power.

And remember this, too.  The Breitbart/Graivs poll, like most current polls, weighted its survey sample toward the 2012 election turnout, with a distinct Democratic tilt,

Most independent observers believe that the GOP is likely to outperform its turnout in 2016, while Clinton is likely to underperform.  One example:  in early voting thus far, African American turnout is already down nearly 20% from 2012.

If pollsters are using the 2012 turn-out ratios, their polls are likely biased in Clinton’s favor.  Which means the race isn’t a dead heat after all.  In fact, Trump is probably leading by a few points, and in states like Florida and North Carolina, with a high percentage of Black voters, he’s likely to win.

Odds-makers say that Clinton is still the overwhelming favorite win. But it’s more likely that the race is already Donald Trump’s to lose.