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Posted by on Jul 29, 2016 in Politics | 2 comments

Fearless Prediction: How the 2016 Presidential Race Will Be Decided

As a pastor, I don’t take sides politically. But I do sometimes talk about the politics of politics or the history of politics. Here’s a little political fortune-telling, then.

Despite polling indicating that vast majorities of the voting public have unfavorable views of both of the major party candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I don’t think that nominees of the two main “minor parties” will gain much traction. I doubt that that cumulatively, they’ll receive more than 2 to 4% of the total vote.

The reason that the Libertarian and Green Parties’ candidates won’t get much above that is because of, and not in spite of, the unprecedented levels of wariness and distrust voters have for Trump and Clinton.

If that seems counter-intuitive, consider my reasoning.

Trump and Clinton are both viewed unfavorably by about 60% of the voters. Within those large groups of people are folks who would be loathe to see one or the other in the White House. The polling since the Democratic convention ended last night shows the race, nationally, to be at 45% for Clinton, 40% for Trump. This number probably reflects the 3-5% “bump” that Clinton received from this past week’s convention. Yet, it’s still almost within the margin of error, meaning that the race is a virtual toss-up.

But most interesting of all, the poll shows that 15% of voters expressed no preference.

It stands to reason that this bloc of voters includes people who don’t, under any circumstances, want to see either Trump or Clinton win the presidency. Some are likely “never Clinton,” while others are “never Trump.” It’s difficult to imagine that people with strong feelings like these will “waste” their votes by supporting candidates who have no chance of winning. (Mind you, I’m not saying that they would be wasting their votes, only that they will likely think that voting for the Libertarians or the Greens would be a wasteful act.)

Instead, I think, these voters will either vote for Clinton, not because they love Clinton, but because they don’t like Trump, or they will vote for Trump because they don’t like Clinton.

It seems that in every election cycle, people speak of choosing “the less of two evils.” This is often said unfairly, because we tend to decide for whom we vote on emotional and visceral grounds that take little account of things like issues, character, and biography.

But it does seem that this year, people really don’t like either major party candidate. Because of that, I’m betting (not literally of course) that the winner will be elected not out of support or affection, but out of a desire to keep the other candidate out of the White House.

The winning slogan of this campaign will be, “Vote for A, he/she isn’t B.”

[Mark Daniels blogs here and is the pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

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