First and foremost, everybody at The Arena would like to welcome our newest Jumbos to Tufts. You’ll find rather quickly that there’s nothing quite like a college campus around election time. And to everybody who won’t be going home to vote, please request your absentee ballot! From the top of the ballot down to your local elections, your vote matters. Websites like www.vote.org can help you figure out how to make sure you get a vote.
Around the time of my last column in the spring, prediction markets gave Hillary Clinton a 65 percent chance of winning the presidency. As of writing, those same markets give her a 64 percent chance of winning. After everything that happened this summer — from hackers sparking a vicious email scandal at the Democratic National Committee to Donald Trump insulting the parents of a deceased U.S. Army captain of Pakistani descent — odds have barely moved.
Of course in the interim, odds did fluctuate significantly. By the end of July and the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump had caught up to Clinton. Coming out of a brutal primary process and mired in her own email scandal, Clinton needed a strong convention of her own to reverse the trend. The Democrats didn’t disappoint. With a superstar cast led by the Obamas (First Lady Michelle Obama gave the best speech of the convention,) Vice President Biden and of course President Bill Clinton, the Democratic National Convention snatched momentum back. In just a week, Clinton’s lead in the polls popped to 7 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight. But the Clinton lead has started to slip. As of the time of writing, she has maintained a 1 to 2 percent advantage in the national polls — too close for comfort.
Many analysts have waited for a “pivot” from Trump to wrestle back the lead. After winning the nomination, candidates tend to pivot toward the ideological center in order to attract independent voters. You could point to Trump turning on his view that President Obama was not born in the United States.
But on policy, namely immigration, Trump has held on staunchly. Admittedly, Trump is no longer claiming that Mexico is sending its criminals across the border, but he is still clinging to his proposed border wall and hardline on those already in America. After visiting Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (who tweeted out afterwards that Mexico would not be paying for any wall,) Trump gave a two-hour speech on immigration in which he pivoted in a 360-degree circle. He is doubling down on the rhetoric that got his campaign to this point. It’s a bold strategy.
Clinton, however, isn’t doing herself any favors. While we can’t blame her for catching pneumonia, Clinton certainly blundered when referring to half of Trump’s supporters as the “basket of deplorables” in a recent speech. Sure, she was referring to those supporting Trump for the most onerous reasons, but using the word “half” was always going to be perceived by voters as too broad a generalization. One is of course reminded of Mitt Romney’s famous quote implying he did not care about the 47 percent of Americans who were certain to vote for President Obama in 2012.
It says something about our system that for a third straight semester, the Daily is running a column on the presidential elections; at every turn, this election has provided ample material. Editors have come and gone (and graduated) but The Arena is still here, providing hot takes and hard-hitting analysis on the greatest American dramedy since “Desperate Housewives.” It’ll be a fun semester.