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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Nobody wants to jinx the defeat of the most singular threat to American democracy to ever crawl out of the WWE Hall of Fame. But something is going on.

Early voting hasn’t been uniformly good for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But as tens of millions of voters have been making their way to the polls, the news has been getting progressively better out of the three key early voting battlegrounds — North Carolina, Florida, and Nevada.

If the Democratic nominee sweeps or even picks up two of these three bellwether states, it will be nearly impossible for Donald Trump to become our God Emperor Overlord, or whatever he thinks the president does.

North Carolina’s Republicans have surgically limited early voting sites to make getting a ballot more difficult for students and black voters. But signs still point to a Clinton lead in the state Barack Obama won in 2008 and lost in 2012. Florida was a worry for Democrats as Republicans led the early vote until Friday. But Saturday was the best day for the Clinton campaign, with Miami-Dade county, rich in Latino and left-leaning voters, delivering a 67 percent increase from 2012.

And in Nevada on Friday night, there was a nightmare scene for the right as Latinos waited on line for hours at the Cardenas Market to summon justice upon the man who has smeared them, their families and friends as “rapists and criminals.” They brought their best and if you do the math, as veteran Nevada reporter John Ralston does every election year, you might see that the chances of Trump winning the state “are about the same as Billy Bush anchoring the CBS Evening News.”

The Atlantic‘s Ronald Brownstein suggests that the focus on these states outside of Democrats’ “blue wall” may have “overestimated her hold on the states most central to her strategy.” But the seeming effectiveness of her ground game — which towers over her opponents’ Twitter plan of having people in red hats gathering to join their leader in yelling at the press — should allow a little optimism.

How much?

Well, are you a Bill, a Nate, a Nate, a Drew or a Sam?

Trump campaign mascot and conservative radio host Bill Mitchell is still preaching the Trump gospel that only the polls that show the Republican nominee winning can be correct. FiveThirtyEight‘s Nate Silver, the savior of Democratic nerves in 2012, isn’t willing to be your salve this time, after missing the rise of Trump in the GOP primary; he’s saying Clinton has a lead in the race but it’s “tenuous” at best, with a 60-70 percent chance of making history. The Upshot‘s Nate Cohn sees a “solid lead” for Clinton and an “unclear” map for Trump. Thus his paper’s model suggests Democrats’ hopes are in the mid 80s. Daily Kos Elections‘  Drew Linzer isn’t as well known as his modeling colleagues, but he was the most accurate forecaster in both 2012 and 2014. His model gives Clinton nearly a 90 precent chance of capturing the White House.

And then there’s Princeton Election Consortium’s Sam Wang, the man who can soothe any Clinton-backing nervous wrecks enough so they can join some “Get Out the Vote” operations. Wang has Clinton’s chances of carrying at least 270 electoral votes at almost 100 percent.

There’s still plenty to worry about, including the unprecedented way the FBI intervened in this election, which rocked the polls and hurt Democrats’ chances of taking the Senate and thus America’s chances of having a functioning Supreme Court.

As a member of Hillary Clinton’s inner circle told Newsweek, “You don’t overthrow 5,000 years of patriarchy without a fight.” But the most positive signs for Democrats may be the manner in which the GOP and Trump are campaigning.

Here are five ways Republicans and their nominee seem to be telegraphing a defeat on November 8.

  1. Back to building doubt in the system.
    Trump was jubilant over FBI Director James Comey’s intervention in the race for a few days, but the images of Latinos lining up to vote has shaken him back to reality. He sees voters being allowed to vote because they arrived in line before the polls closed as “rigged,” though it’s standard procedure. There are signs such rhetoric depresses his own supporters and possibly GOP turnout. To start “whining before the game’s over,” as President Obama calls it, sounds like you’re preparing to lose.
  2. Preparing a post-defeat game plan.
    Republicans have already started talking about Clinton’s impeachment, which is both ridiculously contemptuous of the voters’ will and also a sign that they expect her to win. Trump’s warnings of an “unprecedented Constitutional crisis” should he lose aren’t just fortune telling — it’s a preview of how his campaign to delegitimize his opponent and our democracy will continue after Election Day.
  3. Trump campaigning pretty much everywhere.
    The Clinton campaign’s surprise visits to Michigan — which Democrats have carried in presidential elections since 1992 — could hint at anxiety in holding a key state. But at least there’s some semblance of a strategy — activating black voters and improving her party’s down-ballot prospects. “Clinton has strategy and data,” Democratic strategist Reed Galen tweeted. “Trump has an airplane.” His travel schedule has him flying all around the country and back into the same states twice, canceling a visit to Wisconsin while hitting Minnesota, a state he has little-to-no chance of winning. These are the tactics of a man who sees no clear path to victory — or just doesn’t want to pay his pollsters. The campaign’s goal, Trump insiders have suggested, is to beat Mitt Romney’s total in 2012, not Hillary Clinton’s in 2016. When you’re trying to be the better loser, you’re still a loser.
  4. Down-ballot ticket-splitting strategy.
    One of the most effective Republican Senate campaigns of the year has been waged by Ohio’s Rob Portman and it was born out of a realization that Trump could lose the state. He’s spent the last year cultivating voters who back him and either major party nominee. This is an ominous sign, given Ohio is one of Trump’s best chances of picking up a state Obama won twice. And even worse for Trump is that ticket-splitting also has become the strategy of Pennsylvania’s GOP Senator Pat Toomey. If Trump can’t win the Keystone State, he probably won’t be president.
  5. Intimidating voters.
    If you have to stop people from voting in order to win, you’ve probably already lost. A federal judge issued a restraining order against the Trump campaign for what’s been called “voter intimidation.” And, of course, the Trump campaign appealed the decision. Intimidating citizens from exercising their right to vote, it seems, is their final hope.

IMAGE: U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign event in Wilmington, Ohio, U.S. November 4,  2016.   REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

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