In the Canadian political system the Prime Minister is the leader of the party which can muster a majority in the House of Commons. The members of that House are elected by paper ballots in 338 constituencies and a plurality of votes in each constituency elects. There are lots of procedural things about Writs and Returns of Writs but that is the basic structure. To vote you need to identify yourself “show one piece of government-issued identification with your photo, name and current address; show one piece of identification with your name and a second one with both your name and address; or, show two pieces of identification with your name and have someone you know attest to your identity.” You have to be 18 and you have to be a Canadian citizen.

It is a remarkably simple system and, of course, the Liberals are thinking of screwing it up with “electoral reform” but even then the basics of paper ballot voting and voter ID are not going to change. And Canadian Federal elections are governed by the Canadian Federal Government. The rules are the same across the country.

Our American cousins have a rather different system for running elections.Or, realistically, they have 50 different systems run by 50 different states with an added layer of potential complexity in the form of the Electoral College which actually elects the President but has no other role in government.

In each of those fifty systems the ID requirements are different. You have to be an American citizen, be 18 or over and meet the residency requirements of the state in which you are voting. The ballots in every state are different: some are paper, some are electronic.

To add a little confusion, not only are Americans voting for their President they are also voting for a Representative, perhaps a Senator, State Officials, Judges, ballot measures and even municipal issues. (Here is a sample ballot for an address in San Francisco.)It is little wonder that every election there are polling stations which are overwhelmed, ballots which are spoiled and a certain sense of barely controlled chaos. But it is all wonderfully democratic.

In Canada there are election lawyers but not very many and they mainly deal with issues going to the very stringent election financing rules which we have. There are, occasionally, recounts in particular ridings. In 2011 there were 6 judicial recounts. Non-judicial recounts are triggered automatically in really tight races and it is open to any citizen to file a complaint alleging electoral fraud which does happen once in a while.

In the US there is a large, active and litigious election bar. Flocks of lawyers monitor the activities of the state election officers and are primed to pounce on irregularities. Not for nothing did the term “hanging chad” enter our vocabulary in the wake of the 2000 contest between Bush and Gore.

There is a long and rich history of voting and election fraud in America with the delivery of the 1960 Election to JFK by Richard Daley’s Chicago machine as, perhaps, the most notable case.

Any Presidential candidate needs to be aware of that history and be prepared to act where fraud is apparent. Trump has kept that option open as has Hilly. But, as the expression goes, “if it isn’t close, they can’t cheat”. But what if it is?

The flocks of hungry election lawyers take wing at the merest hint of impropriety and engage the Courts in a determination of which ballots count and which don’t. It is not efficient but it does ensure a level of scrutiny. Yes, the evil George Soros and his flying monkeys may try to tamper with voting machines and, on the night of the election, fake results might make it into the tallies. But they are unlikely to last there very long.

Widespread systemic voting fraud is not impossible; rather it is almost impossible to conceal. American elections are deeply public events held in public places, monitored by people appointed by both parties. Anomalies are likely to be detected and reported. Not every anomaly but enough that a concerted campaign of reanimating the dead for electoral purposes or bussing large numbers of people across state lines to vote a second time will likely show up.

One of the strengths of the American Presidential election system lies in its diversity. Assume that the fix is in in Chicago – the dead vote, voters are able to vote several times – and Hillary wins a tremendous victory. Big enough that she takes the Illinois Electoral college votes just like JFK did 56 years ago. That one state is only 20 of the 270 EC votes she needs to win.

The legitimacy of the winner of the American Presidential election rests only partially on how “true” the vote actually is. Even if a JFK sized fraud could be hung around the neck of one of the candidates, that would not likely be enough to destroy their claim to office if they had won convincingly in other states where no fraud could be proven. This is particularly true if the EC votes from the state where the fraud occurred were surplus to the 270 needed to win in the EC.

Where it gets dicey – and where people like Al Gore and his supporters – can maintain an election is “stolen” and therefore the winning Presidential candidate is illegitimate, is when the overall election is very, very close. In 2000 Gore won the popular vote outright. He lost in the Electoral College by 5 votes and then because the Supreme Court of the United States stayed a recount in Florida. My lefty friends never ceased to say that Bush had stolen the election and was “selected” not elected.

Whatever one may think of Al Gore, and I think very little of the man, the fact was that he had a perfectly good reason to contest the 2000 election. The fact that he lost in the Supreme Court in no way detracts from the position he took in the face of real uncertainty. But once the Supreme Court had made its decision, legally, the matter was closed.

A President’s legitimacy is only partially derived from an electoral victory. That victory has to be inside the bounds of the law. Was did Bush outlawyer Gore? Possibly, but Gore was represented by a brilliant legal team led by David Boies.

In fact, ultimately, Gore chose to stand down his legal team notwithstanding the SCOTUS leaving the door open for further legal action in Florida. Perhaps he did not like his legal chances, or perhaps he realized that the Presidency itself would be undermined if he persisted.

Trump is fully entitled to say that the 2016 election is rigged – there is no doubt that the old school media hates him and is protecting Hillary  by suppressing the vast weight of evidence of her corruption – but that is not the same as saying its eventual winner lacks legitimacy as the next President. Even provable cases of voter fraud on a relatively small scale, while certainly evidence of just how nasty the Democratic machine and its creature are, does not undermine the legitimacy of the next Presidency. Nor would hard evidence that Putin personally hacked John Podesta’s email account sound as de-legitimating a Trump victory.

To lose legitimacy a candidate and a campaign would have to a) win, b) by a tiny amount that c) could be proven conclusively to have come about by fraud or other illegal means. And that fraud would have to be really, really, really clear: a confection of exit polls deviating from actual results is not, in my view, going to be enough.

However, all that said, if I was running the Trump campaign I would encourage all my voters to wear red on Election Day. If there are as many as Trump says there are, and there is every chance that he’s right, an ocean of red will be hard to ignore and harder to disenfranchise through fraud.

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Political Landscapes

To make accurate models you need data. Lots of data. Building a model of the American electorate – whether for polling, advertising buys, or for Get Out the Vote efforts – is an exercise in Big Data with huge reams of the stuff being processed by very smart people. As I mentioned in the comments in my last piece, the polling in this election has not “herded” so much as clumped. The preferred MSM narrative has Hilly ahead by quite a bit and is based on a set of polls which are aggregated at fivethirtyeight.com. The “outliers” to this – USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times “Daybreak” , IBD/TIPP and Rasmussen – consensus position has the race tied or Trump a bit ahead.

Plenty of ink has been spilt trying to explain the clumping as an artefact of the differing methodologies used by the different polling operations: the different samples, different weightings, different measurement techniques. I suspect there is useful information to be gleaned from this sort of comparison but not enough to actually explain what is causing the clumping. For that you need to look at a larger picture.

If you are building a model you have to make some basic assumptions and the most important of these is about what relationship the present has to the past. Put another way, one question you have to ask is how closely the electorate you are looking at right now resembles the electorate of, in this case 2012 and 2008. What’s the same, what’s changed?

Eight years ago America was in the throes of what turned out to be a huge economic crisis. It was offered the chance to elect its first black President. The word Millennial was just entering the lexicon. The iPhone had arrived the year before. So had Netflix as a streaming service.

A few numbers

Traditional media was hanging on in 2008. Newspapers still had readers, advertisers and staff. But that changed a lot in the eight intervening years.  The three big TV networks saw their viewership decline. In fact, overall television watching dropped.

Along with declining “reach” mainstream media also saw trust in media drop to new lows in the last eight years. Only 32% of people surveyed by Gallup September 2016 said they great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence in mass media as compared to 43% in 2008. (Actually, only 7% said they had a great deal of trust.)

The number of people of “prime working age” in work in the US – a measure which discounts things like retirement and immigration – was at 78.8% in September 2008 and very nearly the same at 78.0 in September 2016. But during that period it dipped to 75.0 in the aftermath of the 2008 crash.

In the second quarter of 2016 homeownership fell to 62.9% down from 68.1% in 2008. 

And, one more number: there are now more Millennials than Boomers.

Competing Landscapes

The raw material for modelling is the same, those numbers and hundreds of other time series: so how can you have the variance implied by the poll clumping?

If the data was just the data there should be very little variation. But, in fact, each of the data sets I’m citing and many, many others, represent actual human experience. If you owned a house in 2008 and lost it in the housing crisis, you have a particular sort of experience. If you had a job in 2008, lost it in 2010 and have only recently re-entered the labour force you have had a particular sort of experience. If you are a Millennial rather than a Boomer, your lived experience is very, very different. The job you lost in 2009 may have been your first and only job. The job the Boomer lost maybe the very last job he’ll ever have. As a Millennial the job you lost in 2009 may have been your first and only job. The job the Boomer lost maybe the very last job he’ll ever have.

Polls tend to work by adjusting their samples to reflect demographics and an estimate of a given demographic’s propensity to actually vote. On a toy model basis, you can think of it as a layer cake with each layer representing an age cohort. So, for example, if you look at younger voters 18-29 you might find that 90% of them support Hilly and 10% Trump. If there are 100 of these voters in your sample of 500 a simple projection would suggest 90 votes for Hilly, 10 for Trump. The problem is that it is difficult to know how many of those younger voters will actually go out and vote. As a rule of thumb the older you are the more likely you are to vote so now you have to estimate voting propensity.

There are two ways to get a sense of voting propensity: ask the people in your sample or look at the behaviour of people the same age but in the last couple of elections.

And now the landscape begins to shift. In 2008, nearly 50% of voters aged 18-29 voted. In 2012, 40% voted. In both elections, the youth vote was heavily pro-Obama. If you were designing a poll at this point, what sort of weighting would make sense for youth voters? Making that call will change the landscape your poll will reflect. If you want your poll to tilt Hilly you can believe that the prospect of the first woman President of the United States will be as motivating as Obama was and assign a voting propensity of 40-50%; alternatively, if you don’t see many signs of Hillary catching fire among younger voters, you can set the propensity number at 30% and create a tie or a slight Trump lead.

(The results of this are even more dramatic if you look at the black vote and turnout. In 2008 black turnout was 69.1%, 2012, 67.4% with Obama taking well over 90%. Will the nice white lady achieve anything like these numbers?)

One the other side of the ledger, the turnouts of the less educated have been low for the last two elections. 52% in 2008 and a little less than 50 in 2012. There is room for improvement. Now, as any educated person will tell you, often at length, Trump draws a lot of support in the less educated cohorts. But that support is easily discounted because these people (the deplorables and their ilk) barely show up to vote.

Build your model on the basis that lower education people’s participation in 2016 will be similar to 2008 and 20012 and you will produce a result in line with the 538.com consensus view. But if you think that the tens of thousands people who show up for Trump’s rallies might just show up to vote, you will have a model tending towards the LA Times view of things.

Pick Your Landscape

If you, like me, cannot stand Hillary and think she belongs in prison, you are going to tend towards a view of the landscape in which the black vote collapses and the idiocracy figures out how the calendar works and shows up in all their bumpkin splendour. If you think Trump is a giant orange racist/groper/fascist, the Millennials will all serenely leave the coffee houses where they serve in honour of their women’s studies degrees and student debt and nobly vote for Hilly despite really wanting Bernie. Black people will embrace Hilly and give Obama a great send off by voting for the nice white lady.

What will determine the actual political landscape is who actually shows up to vote on November 8th. The danger which the 358.com consensus poses to Hillary is that her own, not terrifically enthusiastic supporters, may assume the election is in the bag and binge watch Orange is the New Black, on Netflix, on their smartphone. Because, after Trump’s measured performance in last night’s debate, the wind has gone out of the “literally Hitler” sails. Voting against Trump is no longer quite like hiding Anne Frank in your attic.

For Trump the last three weeks of campaigning are all about getting his people, his deplorables to believe, against all past experience that their votes matter. His rallies, his Tweet fights, his advertising all have to pound home the message that ordinary people’s votes matter.

And then, of course, there are those “events” which are beyond the candidates and the pollster’s control.

Final thought:

Gallup Poll, Oct 26, 1980, Two Weeks Before Election:



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I admit I wanted Trump to thump Hilly tonight. I wanted him to call her out on lying to the FBI, to Congress, to the American People. I wanted him to hit her on the corruption infecting the Clinton Foundation. I wanted him to nail her on her campaign paying professional agitators to disrupt Trump rallies.

Now, he did all that but not the way I wanted him to. No roundhouse punches, no swinging for the fences, instead Trump played to win. Which made for dull television but, I think, may have locked it up for him.

I wrote a couple of days ago that if Trump could go for the father/grandfather thing, look sane and competent, he’d pull the votes he needed. That was the route he took tonight.

Hilly was in there fighting. But she wandered off her own points. Extolled the Clinton Foundation, rambled on while both the very good moderator, Chris Wallace and Trump tried to get a word in edgewise. Tried to own the minutes like she was the challenger rather than the gal with the big poll numbers.

Trump leaned back. He made his points but he managed to project a sense of self-assurance I had not seen before.

I think he won on points but, unlike the first and second debates, he seemed easy in himself. Some of the annoying swagger was gone. He let Hilly run on about her set pieces without letting her get under his skin. If anything he was a bit too mellow, a bit too measured. He was running up points but he was not fist pumping every time he scored one.

Hillary certainly scored sufficient points that the MSM will be able to tout the debate as a Hilly win. But, if she had scored no points at all, the MSM would score it exactly the same way.

For Trump tonight was largely about showing the undecided voters that they have nothing to fear in a Trump Presidency. I think he did that. Draining the hysteria was job #1, scoring points, which he did well, was a distant second.

Hillary now retreats to her bunker – although she now has some event scheduled between now and the end of the month – and Trump keeps his show on the road.

The other thing which happened tonight is that Chris Wallace ensured that he would be struck off the party lists of all sorts of establishment types. He brought up Wikileaks, he brought up the Veritas videos, he asked about Hilly giving a quarter of a million dollar speech. He asked Trump some tough questions too, but it was refreshing to see a degree of even-handedness. And it put Wikileaks and Veritas and Hilly’s speeches into play.

Trump had a great night, Hilly had an OK night, but the final three weeks are going to be more about her corruption than Trump’s buffoonery. Which means that, net, Hilly got killed.

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Whoever wins, a very large part of the electorate–perhaps more than a third–will believe that the government lacks legitimacy. We have not had circumstances like this since the Civil War. If Trump loses, his voters will blame a corrupt oligarchy and its allied media for electing a criminal to the White House; if Clinton loses, the minority constituencies of the Democratic Party will respond as if the Klu Klux Klan had taken over Washington. There has never been anything like this in the past century and a half of American history, and it is thankless to predict the outcome. Nonetheless I will: Trump will crush it. Clinton, the major media, the pollsters, and the mainstream Republican Party have badly misread the insurrectionist mood of the electorate.

David “Spengler” Goldman

The whole Goldman piece is worth a read.

Goldman is about the last person one would expect to foresee a Trump victory. He is smart, connected, deeply Jewish and very much at the intelligent patrician end of the vast right wing conspiracy. But Goldman understands that this election is a referendum on whether or not the American People are willing to put up with another four years of corruption on both sides of the aisle or if they are willing to “drain the swamp”.

Goldman sense that the Americans have had enough.

I think he’s right. But I have ben disappointed before.

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Same track, different races


At the moment, if you read the Washington Post or the NYT or watch CNN you might be forgiven for concluding that the American Presidential election is over and it is now just a matter of determining how many electoral college votes Hilly wins by. Tomorrow’s debate, Wikileaks, reclassification quid pro quos are all but dust under the Scooby van as it takes a victory lap or two.

This story is driven by fond hopes and polling numbers which have Hilly 8 to 12 points ahead nationally and holding comfortable leads in battleground states. And, of course, a deep sense that “no one I know” is voting Trump.

Over on the other side, driven by Drudge, Breitbart and Limbaugh there seems to be plenty of evidence that the race is much tighter. This story is all about the debate, the Wikileaks, the FBI taking a dive and, yes, polls showing Trump with a slight lead or within a point.

This is a story where the wicked Washington insiders, from both parties, are given their walking papers by an army of quiet, shy, Trump supporters who do no more than turn up at the polling stations. It is driven by the belief that Hilly’s supporters are unenthusiastic whereas Trump’s are excited by the prospect of throwing the rascals out.

Because I loath Hilly and the people who surround the Clinton machine, I am inclined to believe in the possibility that the Trump supporters will show up and the Hillary supporters will stay home. And I am inclined to look at the weightings in the MSM polls and discount their results. But neither of those are the reason why I think Trump has an actual chance.

I watched a few minutes of Trump’s speech in Green Bay last night. It was pretty much his standard speech (although his sensible suggestions re government ethics were new) but it was his demeanour which really struck me. Gone was the guy simulating anger at the crooked Establishment and all its works. Sure, he took lots of pokes at Hilly; but they were without the rancour which many of his earlier speeches seemed to be fueled by. He seemed relaxed, taking his time, enjoying the moment.

And then he – no doubt with careful stage management – spotted an adorable little black girl in the crowd and brought her up on stage. He is a huge man and she was a tiny mite though wonderfully ladylike in a skirt carrying a cross body bag. He picked her up, tried to give her a kiss, had her say her name into the mic. Throughout he looked like what he is, a father, a grandfather.

The Clinton campaign, rather sensibly, is keeping Hilly under wraps. She has one event, tomorrow night’s debate, between now and the 30th of October. One. Her campaign recognizes that she herself is not much of a draw. And they recognize that hiding her avoids her having to answer many questions about Wikileaks or lying to the FBI.  If Hilly actually has the lead MSM is claiming there really is no reason for her to campaign at all. 100 million dollars worth of advertising, a cheerleading mainstream media and a bit of minor voting fraud should see her safely home.

For Trump the last weeks of the election will be a lot busier. He seems to have shaken off the locker room tape and the legion of gropies let lose by the darker side of the Clinton/MSM campaign. The drop in his polling numbers has seemed to stop and the LA Times poll even has him a couple of points ahead of Hilly. If he can turn in a friendly, but pointed, performance in tomorrow night’s debate, the momentum will shift a little more. If he can manage the happy warrior, entertainer, persona he brought to Green Bay he’ll undercut the “literally Hitler” rhetoric of the Democrats.

At this point Trump’s “drain the swamp” line is a handy catch all for the Wikileaks/FBI/Benghazi/Clinton Foundation/pay to play/Wall Street set of Hillary negatives. But a lot of it will come down to delivery. Outrage, while perfectly justifed, is going to scare off a lot of potential Trump voters. They may not then go and vote for Hilly, but they may stay home.

Trump has the advantage that he can adjust his delivery without taking away from his message. He knows that the media will put the worst possible construction on anything he says. But Trump also knows that if the media are as important in this election as they seem to think they are he has lost anyway.

For the next three weeks Trump is really going to be running against himself. If he brings his father/grandfather persona to his rallies he will likely reach over the heads of the media and connect with the American electorate. Hilly, in her bunker, will be spending those weeks hoping that the American electorate does not connect the dots.


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Healthy as a Horse

Nice to see concerned staffers sending Hilly information on Provigil…anti-narcolepsy, off label for Parkinsons. https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/emailid/25404

How does Trump still have supporters?

Andrew Coyne summarizes the state of bien-pensant Canadian opinion in a largely fact-free screed on Trump.  (Here, behind the NPs flimsy paywall. Use incognito mode.)

Having entirely bought into the DNC/MSM account of Trump’s many failing poor Andrew just cannot imagine how anyone could be supporting Trump…but they are. How can that be?

If your information comes from the New York Times and the Washington Post as well as CNN, this is a real question and one which is likely perplexing. After all, through that lens Trump is a loud mouthed, know nothing, groping, nogoodnick. And he is running against a tough, experienced, qualified woman who has tirelessly worked for the good of America at home and abroad. A woman who herself wonders “Why am I not 50 points ahead?”. And a woman who enjoys a commanding lead in the polls.

A decade ago Coyne was smart enough that he would have wondered if this black and white story could possibly be true. Now success and laziness have robbed him of the critical capacity he used to have.

A little rooting around would have given Coyne a more balanced perspective and might actually answer his question.

Part of Trump’s support is actual support. People who, for various reasons, simply like Trump and like his policies. There are a lot of Americans who do not like open borders, have lost their jobs to what they see as ill-conceived trade policy, think that police lives matter just as much as black ones and are leery of America assuming the role of “world policeman”. These are not crazy positions, they are not especially right wing and they are racist only if you are willing to rob that word of any serious meaning. Coyne suggests that 2 in 5 Americans inexplicably support Trump. I would think that his explanation is in those basic positions.

However, for Trumpogedan (similar to Brexit) to happen, Trump needs another 5-10% of the vote. Here we have the people who may vote for Trump not because they support him or his policies but rather because they do not want to see a criminal and her co-conspirators/enablers anywhere near the White House. (Were I an American voter this is where I would fall.) Alternatively, there are also a lot of voters who see Hilly as the embodiment of the crony/special interest/pay to play politics which have corroded the American Republic for decades. Here a vote for Trump is, in the fat bastard Michael Moore’s memorable phrase, a Molotov cocktail tossed at the Establishment.

When I look at Trump I see many of the flaws Coyne does but I don’t see contempt for the rule of law or a deep sense of entitlement. I don’t see a person who routinely lies to Congress, the FBI and the American people. I don’t see a person surrounded by layers of flunkies for whom any means are justified in protecting her privilege. And I don’t see in Trump a person who, for whatever reason, has converted a supposedly independent media into a Praetorian guard.

What Coyne might see if he managed to get outside the NYT/WP/CNN bubble for a few minutes is that for all the Red Hat Yahoo fervour for Trump, there is also a growing, “no hat”, contingent of Americans who realize just how dangerous Hilly, and what Hillary privately stands for, actually is.

Frustrating as the MSM’s decision to feature every Democratically connected bimbo who was ever within a hundred feet of Trump for the “Grope of the Day” piece, intelligent people are able to find and read the Wikileaks emails for themselves. These are, so far, not about smoking guns, rather they are about a cast of mind, a deep contempt for ordinary people, a field guide to influence peddling and a revelation of a woman, and the group surrounding her, never once asking what was right, merely asking what would fly, what they could get away with, what they could hide.

The Wikileaks emails are unlikely to influence low information voters on either side. And with the full press information suppression job being done by the media, they will probably not reach many of the nice, college educated, ladies supporting Hillary. But they may reach a few.

Andrew Coyne was shocked and appalled by Brexit. The little people, the bigots, the un-educated defeated the sorts of people Coyne is convinced should be running things. If Trump wins, and there is a good chance he will (“weighted” polls notwithstanding), poor Andrew may have to take to his fainting couch. But the hardest thing for Andrew and his ilk to accept is that, for good reasons, Trump will get votes from people who are well educated, intelligent and absolutely convinced that Hilly is a real threat to the Republic.

Update: via Instapundit here is a computer science prof at Yale who has swung round to Trump:

I’ll vote for Mr. Trump—grimly. But there is no alternative, no shadow of a responsible alternative.

Mr. Trump’s candidacy is a message from the voters. He is the empty gin bottle they have chosen to toss through the window. The message begins with the fact that voters hear what the leaders and pundits don’t: the profound contempt for America and Americans that Mrs. Clinton and President Obama share and their frightening lack of emotional connection to this nation and its people.

David Galernter, WSJ







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Events, dear boy, events

At the top of my blog I have the possibly apocryphal quotation from Harold Macmillian on what might blow a government off course. “Events, my dear boy, events.” reflects the reality of political life. Nothing stays constant. Stuff comes up.

The American Presidential Election of 2016 has been surprisingly “event” free. Obviously, the nomination of Trump would count as an event but other than that? Well I would count Comely taking the dive on the Clinton emails as game changing but, and it is an important caveat, it is not clear if the “dive” will hold until election day. (The Trump tape and the subsequent parade of outraged damsels is not so much an event as a media mugging skillfully executed. A master class in the time honoured American political tradition of mud slinging.)

At this point, a game changing event has to be simple. Black and white. As long as Hilly can run a grey goo sort of campaign and spend most of her time away from a supine press, she has a good chance of winning. As that is exactly what she seems to be doing, changing the game means that the “event” has to cut Trump’s way bigly.

That valancing rules out a number of events which no one wants to see. A serious international confrontation with the Russians or the Chinese for example. For all of Obama’s cyber sword rattling (and how dumb is that?), a real confrontation would tend to freeze the game and with it the chances of a Trump victory.

Similarly, an international terror attack somewhere not in the US, regardless of casualty numbers, would be a push.  Neither campaign would be affected to any great degree. And I would add things like the fall of Aleppo or Mosul to that category. At this stage, the American political campaign is really about America rather than the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, a domestic terror attack on a significant scale could have a significant impact if it was immediately clear that it was Islamically inspired. Even more so, if the perpetrators were refugees or recent immigrants. No one could wish for such a thing but it would certainly push Trump’s hardline message forward and knock the faux outrage of the ladies brigade off the front page for plenty of news cycles.

A full-on financial crisis – similar to 2008 – would certainly be an event. If Trump was smart enough to avoid suspending his campaign while it was going on. At the moment the US stock market is at historic highs and that usually means a sell-off is imminent. But that is not the stuff of financial nightmares. The more likely trigger is the possible collapse of Germany’s biggest bank, Deutsche Bank. The arguments rage in the financial press as to whether Deutsche Bank is “too big to fail” but banking itself is about confidence and when that confidence goes things can go pear-shaped very fast. Given Deutsche’s exposure to a huge portfolio of derivatives, even a solid rumour of its demise could be a huge downward shock to markets worldwide.

The American electorate is still shaking off the effects of the 2008 financial crisis. If there is a full on financial shock between now and Election Day and the parallel to 2008 is drawn, the thought of a President who will extend the Obama economic policies will be pretty unappealing. A financial crisis might not boost voter enthusiasm for Trump but it would reduce any excitement about voting for Hilly. Low Dem turnout is an actual threat to any lead Hilly might have.

The final event is interesting because it requires a decision on the part of only two or three people. But they are specific people. For anyone paying attention, it is pretty clear that the FBI investigation of the Hilly emails and server was fixed from the go. Comely stood up at his press conference and gave a list of particulars which would have served to indict virtually anyone who had done what Hilly and her associates had done. Subsequently, we have learned that along with the violations of the law implicit in running her basement server, Clinton and her associates actively worked to obstruct justice and disobey subpoenas.  But Comely took a dive and the FBI conducted what appears to be a “friends and family” style non-investigation.

At this point, there are plenty of rumours floating around that senior FBI people are very unhappy that Comely took his dive. But to be a game-changing event, to destroy HRC, at least one or two of these people have to come forward and detail their concerns. Rumours don’t create events.

Ultimately, elections are won and lost because one narrative beats another. Trump’s narrative – that Clinton and the political/media elite she both serves and controls is corrupt – has been an easy sell to 35-40% of the electorate. The evidence, in detail, is deeply persuasive if you are paying even a bit of attention. However, so far as I can see, Trump has not been able to close that sale with the 4 or 5% of the electorate he needs to win.

The Clinton campaign is brilliant at providing salacious, decades old, allegations to feed the celebrity-obsessed media and obscure her conduct. Hilly and her people have used every trick in the book to avoid dealing with her lawlessness, her lying and her deep corruption. And because that corruption is complicated it is difficult for ordinary people to really figure out what is going on.

Were an FBI agent or two to step forward with their apparently real concerns as to the conduct of the Hilly investigation and the failure to file charges, the smoke Hilly has been blowing would clear in an instant and the real question in this election would become apparent:

Do Americans want to elect a criminal as their President?

It would be an event.



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Running the Clock

Hilly is safely locked away in “debate prep”. Keeping her off the trail makes total sense as a) even the tame media might ask awkward questions if they could actually see her, b) the HRC campaign has pretty much abandoned any issue-based campaigning, c) her appearance would get in the way of the coordinated media assault on Trump.

The full array of MSM big guns have been pounding away at the pressing issue of where Trump’s hands were alleged to be 10, 12, 20 years ago. Wave after wave of allegations are being thrown at the wall with the rather quaint20th-centuryy idea that if the NYT, WP, CBS, NBC and ABC all say similar things they must be true, or, at least, sorta true. And, besides, even if they are not true they knock Trump off message. (A comprehensive rebuttal of the handsy allegations can be found here.)

Plus, as the Wiki-leaks Podesta emails pile up, each with a nugget of nasty truth about Hilly and her ilk, MSM realizes that it needs to coordinate with the HRC campaign and DNC to keep the emails off the front pages lest the electorate begins to realize just what a criminal Hilly is.

Will it be enough? It might be if the campaign can, in fact, get out the Dem vote and if nothing really significant happens between now and Election day. One thing which the Wikileaks emails firmly establish is just how fundamentally the MSM supports Hilly so the bar for “significant” is high indeed.

At the moment the narrative seems to be shifting from the groping brawl to a proclamation of victory. This piece in the Guardian sets the standard themes: Trump in tailspin, big Clinton victory, don’t get in the way of your enemy’s mistakes. Those themes are likely to be repeated for the next few days and the headlines for a devastating Trump defeat in the third debate on the 19th is, I suspect, already written.

Having a celebration at centre ice at the fourth minute of the third period when your team has a one goal lead has a single consequence: a delay of game penalty. Sending your goons out to “take out” your opposition’s leading scorer leads to game, and even match, misconducts. But both can go a long way towards destroying the momentum of that opposition. Getting that momentum back is difficult.

The Trump campaign needs a single, clarifying, moment. A hundred emails with Hilly selling SecState access to Clinton Foundation donors are damning but they don’t finish her. The endless proof she lied to Congress, the FBI and the American people has been suppressed, obfuscated and steeply discounted by a compliant media. Her willingness to say one thing to the donor class and another to the public has been glossed over and, besides, it is “complicated” and most of the journalists covering the campaign are simply too stupid and ill-educated to write about “complicated”.

What Trump needs at this moment is an easily understood, simple, black and white, no fact checking needed, event.

In the second part of this post I will outline a few of the possibilities.

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Pinch Hitter

Imagine you were advising Hilly. She is sitting on a slim lead but even going full slime on Trump she is not generating much enthusiasm. She can’t really do press conferences because things like her total lack of recall in written answers to questions about her emails will come up. So what do you do?

Well, first off you pull her off the trail. The problem is that when people see Hilly they leave a bit underwhelmed. She is not terrifically likeable. The Clinton campaign knows this and she has nothing public scheduled until the debate on the 19th.

You could send Bill on the road – which the HRC campaign is doing – but the problem is that people keep showing up at his events and calling him a rapist. Not a good look.

But you have to do something.

Between now and the 25 of October Hilly has one scheduled event, the debate.

So, how about putting the very popular, not unattractive, Michelle Obama out there to shill for Hill?

At the moment MO is not scheduled for much but I expect that will change rather quickly as the HRC campaign realizes that the slime just sort of drips off Trump. And realizes that the Wikileaks are just going to keep coming. And realizes that there is every possibility that one or more disgruntled G-Men are going to void their NDAs and rat out the faux FBI “investigation” of Hilly’s server and subsequent obstruction of justice. All of which will hit in the critical last two weeks of October.

Putting Mrs. Obama out on the road might shore up black support – and get African Americans to actually vote. It also might light a fire under all those college educated women Hilly needs to win.

Worth a shot and Michelle can then pretty much have the Dem nomination in 2020 when Hilly is carried out of the White House for the last time.


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