It is fair to say that 2016 has been the oddest election season of my life and likely yours as well. Most people cannot remember a Presidential election with so many sharp turns and unexpected surprises.
From Wikileaks to Access Hollywood to small hands and a fainting candidate is has been a roller coaster ride to say the least. Hillary Clinton had to claw her way past Bernie Sanders in the primaries in a fight that dragged on months longer than most observers would have ever guessed. Donald Trump was given almost no chance of coming out on top of a 17 candidate GOP field and despite many comments that may have been campaign killers in past elections he just kept right on going to nab the nomination. Nate Silver has lost all his sparkle getting predictions wrong over and over again this time around.
Democrats have been banking on Trump disintegrating but he just won’t go away and with little more than a week to go- nearly every credible poll in America has the race coming down to the wire. Most of the polling not only nationally but also in the all-important battleground states put the race within the margin of error. Hillary still has an advantage but the health question may erode her chances. This time it is not her health but the health of the Affordable Care Act that has suddenly made many Democrats sick about Election Day. It should. Not one Republican supported the law that was shoved through a backdoor with a parliamentary trick unlike any law in American history.
Remember, Mitt Romney was widely expected to win four years ago but then something happened and he was left hanging well short of his goal. His lead was as much as 6-points according to the polls but it never materialized. Maybe people just didn’t turn out or maybe Barack Obama was able to capture lightning twice. Either way we know how it ended and he was able to carry some down-ballot Democrats with him to victory.
This year however the strangest of election phenomenon could occur, the likes of which I have never seen. Donald Trump is riding a new surge in rising poll numbers following the admission by the Obama Administration that the cost for Obamacare health care premiums will be going through the roof and could more than double in some places and it has Republicans down-ballot pounding the message: these people lied to you about the Affordable Care Act and it’s failing badly. The surge isn’t going from the top of the ticket down like you would normally expect but actually it is happening in reverse. The effect is upside down.
Imperiled Republicans running for re-election like Senator Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania are seeing deficits turn into leads over the course of just a couple of days by pounding the message of the failing Obamacare scheme. The Democrats dreams of taking over the US Senate are quickly fading and strangest of all it seems the down ballot support may be pushing upward to buoy Donald Trump.
Is it possible that folks running for Senate or the House will drag Trump over the finish line instead of him pulling them on his coattails? Simply put, yes. All politics are local and the message in Congressional districts all over America is that Hillary failed you by continuing to support a law she knew was terrible. Senate races are being defined by the idea that HillaryCare or any version of such a thing will be a disaster. America delivered that message unequivocally in 1994 bu ushering in Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America and it seems it may happen again with a different twist.
The massive unpopularity of Obamacare appears to outweigh the general disdain for Donald Trump. Obamacares negative mass may instead be added to the general dislike of Hillary Clinton and the result in the strangest of formulas where the down ballot anger secures the White House for Trump.
It seems, in the end voters may like their own money more than they dislike the bombastic, vulgar, unfiltered Donald Trump. So it goes.