Why does it make us tear our hair and rend our garments to listen to so-called analysts in the national news media hyperventilate about how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are locked in a dead heat in nationwide surveys? Because national polling in the presidential race, especially at this stage of the game, is bunk.
Why do the blow-dried bloviators get so excited? Because 1) they pathetically need content to fill 24 hours of air time, 2) they’re desperate for a competitive race that keeps viewers tuned in, and 3) sadly, they’re idiots who do not understand how the president is elected.
Also, they made such a fuss for months about how much various Republicans hated Trump, that when the New York narcissist finally locked up the Republican nomination, the big-name TV talkers are now shocked – shocked, we tell you! – that Republican elites are acting like, uh, Republican elites and rallying around their presidential candidate.
Points 1 and 2 need no further explanation, but it is Point 3 that makes this kind of frenzied blather possible, in its failure to understand — or to ignore – the fundamentals of presidential election civics.
Divided We Stand. First of all, finding that the country is divided about 50-50 between a Democrat and a Republican is a classic case of News That Stays News, a simple reflection of the way things have been at least for the past four decades. Since 1976 the average winning percentage of the popular vote for president has been 50.78% — about as close to an even split as you could have and still have someone get more votes than his rival.
But this, of course, has nothing to do with electing presidents. Otherwise, in 2000 we’d have elected Al Gore instead of George Bush as president. In electoral votes, the state-by-state contests with various numbers of votes that determine who actually wins the White House, the average in that same 40-year time period was 374-164 – a winning percentage averaging 69.52%.
In other words, it matters practically nothing that the NBC-Wall Street Journal shows Clinton ahead of Trump 46-43% or that Fox News shows Trump ahead of Clinton 45-42%. Especially when Trump has wrapped up the GOP nomination while Clinton is still battling Bernie Sanders on her left flank.
After the national conventions, when both parties have candidates who have spoken in prime time to the country and begun to make their case for themselves and against their opponent, polling in individual battleground states like Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin and Colorado, for example, will tell us whether Clinton or Trump is heading toward the White House.
Until then, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain: he’s a fraud.