The final polls of this election are a-comin' in. Before we look at them, some background might be useful. Here are the final pre-election polls of the 2000 election
Only one poll had Gore ahead; the rest put Bush in front. Averaging them out gave Bush something less than a two percent advantage. And yet, on election day, Gore won the popular vote, albeit by an excruciatingly narrow margin. (As we all know, he did not win in the electoral college -- although he should have.)
So what changed? I think we should look at the "third party factor": Nader dropped at least a point and Buchanan's one-percent became less than half of one-percent. Obviously, many would-be third-party voters got cold feet at the last minute. Gore got most of the benefit; not too many wandering Naderites saw the charm of George W. Bush.
Will this principle hold true today? If so, then the question is: Who will benefit from "third party drift" in 2016 -- Hillary or the Donald?
Although I can't easily see through the eyes of a Gary Johnson voter, Libertarians would seem more likely to favor the more conservative candidate. Yet Johnson's running mate, William Weld, clearly favors Hillary. In a recent interview, Weld spoke like a natural-born Hill-dog.
He called Trump "totally unfit to be president" and said Clinton was "a perfectly reputable, professional, responsible candidate for president of the United States and deserves to be treated as such."
"Frankly, I think Mrs. Clinton has been receiving a pretty raw deal," Weld said.
That kind of talk has gotta
have an impact on Libertarians, don't you think?
As for Stein: I doubt that many of her voters are going to see much charm in Donald Trump.
A smear too far.
Before we continue with the topic of polling, let's look at some recent exercises in mudslinging.
It may be that the Trumpian tactic of smear-smear-smear
has finally gone too far. A couple of days ago, Erik Prince of Blackwater fame did the far-right circuit and spread a fake story that the FBI had found information on Weiner's laptop connecting Hillary Clinton to Jeffrey Epstein's "pedo island."
Somehow, this nonsense became linked up in the public mind with an equally-inane smear-story which claimed that John Podesta had engaged in diabolical rites derived from Aleister Crowley.
(I'll have more to say about that
when the election is over. I'm dying for the freedom to write the occasional post about non-serious matters.)
Today, even more ludicrous anti-Hillary tales
have been floating around right-wingerland. The "Lolita Express" story has been expanded even further, along with the claim that “evidence has emerged from the Clinton email investigation that a massive child trafficking and pedophile sex ring operates in Washington.” Supposedly, the NYPD raided Clinton's residence and came out with bags of kiddie porn and other evidence.
None of this is true. There was no police raid and no evidence of kiddie porn. If the NYPD had barged into Clinton's residence, every major newspaper and television network would be blaring the news.
As far as we know, nothing important is on that computer. Hillary has no link to Jeffrey Epstein. (Yes, Epstein flew Bill Clinton to an AIDS conference in the days before
Epstein was indicted, but rumor and fake stories have expanded that connection far beyond the evidence
The only sources for these outlandish fantasias are no-name freaks who scuttle in and out of ultra-fringey websites. Infuriatingly, the Buzzfeed story which exposes this smear as
a smear has evinced a host of comments from readers who insist that every horrible detail of these accusations must
be true. Why? Because them Clintons is eeeevil
, I tells ya. (I presume that at least a few of these comments come to us by way of St. Petersburg.)
Have these Roger Stonian tricks started to rebound on the tricksters? Have the smear-peddlers gone a smear too far? Maybe I shouldn't underestimate the foolishness of the average Americano, but when the accusations become this
ludicrous, aren't people more likely to blame Trump instead of Clinton?
And with that in mind, let us now look again at the latest -- last -- polls.
For now, we'll stick to the national numbers. So far, the news seems pretty good for Hillary, especially when compared to the situation in 2000.
(Being a natural-born pessimist, I almost didn't want to make this admission. Usually, nothing short of cyanide can bring a smile to this
perpetually dour mug -- and yet, right now, the corners of my mouth are starting to twitch.)
The NBC/WSJ poll
(rated A- by Nate Silver) has Clinton up four points in a four-way race, 44/40, with Johnson at 6 and Stein at 2.
(rated A+ by Nate Silver) puts Clinton ahead by five, 48/43, with Johnson at 4 and Stein at 2.
(not rated by Nate Silver) puts Clinton ahead by three, 45/42, with Johnson 8 and Stein 4. I seriously doubt that either Johnson or Stein will come out Tuesday with those numbers.
All the news is not good for Democrats: The IBD/TIPP poll, which has been tied for days (and which Nate Silver gives an A- rating), puts Trump ahead by one point, 44/43, with Johnson 5 and Stein 3.
The big question: How many self-proclaimed third-party
voters will acquire frozen-foot syndrome in the voting booth?
Matthew Yglesias has tweeted his opinion that "The biggest polling miss
is going to be massive overestimation of the Johnson/Stein vote."
Personally, I believe that the third party numbers will be lower than the ones you see above. Few or no Stein voters will make a last-minute dash toward der Donald. So riddle me this: Will breakaway Libertarians break in the direction that Weld has suggested?
Yes, I am quite aware of the fact that national polls do not necessarily reflect what's happening in the states. We'll talk about state polls -- and early votes -- tonight or tomorrow.
One last thing. Please
don't advise me against not to pay attention to polls. I'm only human, and so are my readers. Of course
we're glued to the polls! How can anyone pretend otherwise? If you're in the Louvre, you notice the paintings. If you're in a strip club, you notice the nudity. If you're in the Sahara, you notice sand. And if you're in the final days of an election, you notice the polls.