President Hillary Clinton
By Nayyer Ali MD
Hillary Clinton is going to be the first female President of the United States. While the media continue to cover all the ups and downs of this campaign breathlessly, for all intents and purposes the contest is over. There is almost no way Trump will overtake her, even though nine more weeks of campaigning are still left.
Clinton has an overwhelming advantage in financial resources. Her fundraising machine is robust and consistent, while Trump has struggled to raise funds directly for his campaign. He has raised a decent amount in concert with the Republican National Committee, but the RNC has to spend much of that on other Republican candidates, and not just the Presidential race.
Clinton also holds a huge demographic edge. She has a massive advantage with women, African Americans, Latinos, and other minorities. In a recent Public Policy Polling poll, Trump had zero favorability rating with African Americans. This is stunning, as Republicans can usually attract support from about 10% of the African-American community. Given that minorities make up 30% of the total voting population, it is likely that Clinton will win 80% or more of the minority vote.
Clinton is also running strong with college-educated voters, who are not enamored by the blowhard rhetoric and bombast and narcissism of Trump. For the first time in decades, a Democrat may actually win the White college-educated vote. Trump’s only vote base is White males without college education, who make up less than 20% of voters. This is just not enough to win an election, no matter how well he does with them.
The Democrats also have a structural advantage in the Electoral College, in which the Presidential is actually decided. Each state has a weight equal to its population, with the winner needing 270 Electoral votes out of the total of 538 up for grabs. Its winner takes all, meaning that Clinton will get all 55 of California’s vote and 29 of New York’s when she wins the popular vote in those states. The Democratic candidate starts with a strong advantage with a reliable group of Blue states that will vote Democrat in the election. These include the Pacific Coast, New Mexico and Colorado, Illinois and the upper Midwest, and the entire Northeast. Even Virginia has become a reliable Blue state this time around, with polls showing Clinton with a 10 point lead.
Not only does Clinton have a large base of solid states, the map of those states in the middle has expanded into what was once solid Republican territory. In addition to Florida, Ohio, and Iowa, the swing states now appear to include North and South Carolina and Georgia. There are even polls showing Missouri and Arizona to be in play.
The critical question for Hillary is not whether she is going to win, but will she have a Congress that is still controlled by the Republicans. Right now the GOP has a 30 seat majority in the House and holds a 54-46 edge in the Senate. It looks like the Democrats will get control of the Senate back, with likely wins in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. They also have a chance in Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Missouri, and possibly, Arizona.
To get control of the House though is a very tall order. The Democrats are certain to pick up 10-15 seats, but to get 31 and take the majority would require a huge Democratic “wave” that sweeps out GOP Congressman that normally would get reelected easily. Such a scenario is possible in a Presidential election year. While some voters will split their vote for White House and Congress, most tend to vote for the same party. If Clinton can win a huge popular vote margin, something approaching 10% over Trump, then a wave might break for the Democrats.
Currently Clinton is running about 6-8 points ahead of Trump in the polls. That is probably not enough to win the House back. For her to get a bigger win will require her to make Trump look unacceptable to at least some normally Republican voters. Her one chance to really do that will be the debates. She needs to not just beat Trump on points, but to make him look utterly unfit to run the country. If she can change the mind of 2% of the electorate, she could push her 8% margin to 12%, and likely win the House.
Clinton has an ambitious agenda for social and economic policies. But to get these enacted, she needs a Congress that will pass the required legislation. Without control of both chambers, much of what she is running on will be impossible to put in place.
But even if she has to settle for the Senate only, that will be a huge development for the country. There is already one vacancy on the Supreme Court, and Justices Kennedy, Breyer, and Ginsburg are all close to or over 80 years old. Clinton could well appoint several justices to the Supreme Court, and shift the court to liberal for the next 25 years. This alone will have huge impacts on the country, and will be the basis of a lasting liberal legacy of Clinton’s Presidency.