Does Common Sense Plus Polling Mean a Big Trump Win?

The "unskewed polls" fiasco of 2012 will live in infamy for many years until usurped by an even bigger failed prediction.  Unfortunately for conservatives, the mainstream media didn't miss a beat in weaponizing polls in favor of Hillary Clinton during the current campaign, leaving many of us demoralized and in search of answers.  The pollsters are skilled at shorting certain samples (independents), adding others (Democrats), and then creating a unique top line that defies the data included in the poll itself.  This is done in such a bold manner that it's almost as if the polling companies are daring us to start the next polling conspiracy.

I am still not a fan of recalibrating a poll and issuing a corrected number.  However, anyone with a knowledge of modern elections should be able to tell that some things are wrong just by listening to the media narrative and looking at numbers available to anyone willing to click a mouse a couple of times.  For the sake of comparison, I will be discussing elections from 1992 to present (the birth of the "big blue wall" of states).

With a noted lack of volunteer support and voter enthusiasm painfully evident in Ohio, the Clinton campaign has been rumored to be focusing funding and energy outside the historical bellwether state.  The New York Times, shamelessly and always "with her," came to the rescue and proclaimed that Ohio is no longer the pulse of the electorate because of the vaunted "changing demographics" explanation.  Apparently, those "deplorable" blue-collar white workers without college degrees have lost their luster as gatekeepers of political fortune.

If the Clinton campaign is indeed cutting its losses in Ohio, internal polls must reflect a generous margin for Trump.  If three points is considered within the margin of error, five points should be marginally competitive, especially in the event of an October surprise.  It is possible that the lead is larger than the five points asserted in this week's Quinnipiac poll and in many other forecasts.

Before I proceed, let's get one thing straight.  Most forecasters have Ohio solidly in red five weeks before the election.  This is the same state that hasn't backed a loser in the general election since 1960, when its electors cast their votes for Richard Nixon.  Many alert liberals jump on the math immediately, pointing out enthusiastically that President Obama would have still won in 2012 with 314 electoral votes without Ohio.  What those folks fail to understand is that if Ohio drifts right, so does the rest of the nation.  When it drifts left, so does the nation with it.

With the lone exception of the dramatic 2000 election finale, Florida has voted to the right of Ohio in all six elections since 1992.  The Sunshine State voted for Obama in 2008 by a 2.8% margin before barely going for him four years later with a margin of 0.9%.  If Trump is up so big in Ohio that it's thought to be in the bag, I have a difficult time believing that Florida, on a right-swinging year on the political pendulum at that, is not going for him as well, especially given the absentee ballot request differential favoring the GOP.

Florida's black population (16%) was certainly a boon to Obama's campaigns, and it is not reasonable to expect Clinton to perform as well or to benefit from the same volume of minority voters this year.  For the same reason, I do not expect North Carolina to be a struggle for Trump.  With a black population near 22% and with Obama not on the ballot, I'm not even sure it's going to be close.  The state went to Bush by over 12 points in each of his two campaigns.  Both states are noted for "demographic changes," but I do not believe that those changes will be so substantial in a period of four years to cost Trump in a right-swinging year.  The same turnout theory applies to Virginia, which swung nearly 15 points between 2004 and 2008.  Anyone telling you that Virginia is gone for good is overreacting.

Another reliably blue state not being discussed in the narrative this year is Iowa, which Obama won by nearly six points four years ago.  The GOP barely took the Hawkeye State in 2004, but it has been a tough one, even with favorable demographics for Republicans.  Benefiting from the no-college white voter, Trump is thought to be ahead by as much as six to ten points, which would represent a substantial swing in a short time span and a sign that the upper Midwest may be entirely in play for the GOP.

If you're wondering why the Trump campaign is spending time in Wisconsin, look back at your electoral history.  When Bush carried Ohio in 2000 and 2004, by 3.5% and 2.1%, respectively, Wisconsin stayed blue by less than half a percentage point each time.

Depending where you get your news, you may not have heard the term "political pendulum" this year.  It is a convenient thing in this year's narrative to ignore the fact that three straight incumbent party terms are rare and haven't occurred since the GOP won three elections in the eighties.  In my opinion, Ohio is still the barometer for success, just as it was four years ago.  If Trump can carry the Buckeye State by six points or more, he stands a good chance to also carry Pennsylvania and Michigan, which are full of blue-collar voters who have been sidetracked by the economic woes of the past two decades.

In conclusion, I would encourage people to understand the purpose of polling – to influence thought; depress turnout; or, most dreadfully, to justify fraud or theft.  Don't get stuck in the trap of trying to generate the actual numbers, but look at your map and statistics.  A right-tilting Ohio does not historically correlate with a left-tilting Florida and North Carolina in a right-swinging election against a scandal-ridden establishment candidate who lacks youth support and will never gain the same volume of minority support as the man she is seeking to replace.  The media is playing us for fools.      

Seth Keshel, former Army captain and Afghanistan veteran, is a district captain for the Convention of States Project, Texas.