Don't count 'em until they're hatched

Ed Adamczyk

A nice letter from Barack Obama came in today’s mail. Guess what he requested of me. Just guess. He even thoughtfully enclosed a return envelope.

There are those who are already behaving as though Joe Biden is guaranteed his turn in the White House barrel, like the president of Turkey, whose military recently tested its Russian-made air defense missiles, contravening some deal he and the Donald Trump administration had regarding its use. Also, more than one member of Congress is suddenly unaware of the name Trump, which, I predicted several years ago, will become a brand as valuable as Mussolini’s was after World War II.

You do not need a list of down-ballot Republicans whose political announcements screamed Trump Trump Trump the last time around, and now scream Jobs Jobs Jobs or something similar.

Television blowhards who lean liberal are still unaware of precisely who potential Trump voters are, the roughly 38% to 40% of the electorate who claim in polls to prefer the incumbent. The announcers on MSNBC, I suspect, don’t know any Trump supporters. They shake their liberal heads, pitying the Trump voter and the republic at large. I’ve got news for them.

Depending on who is asked, Biden is expected to win the November vote, either in a close election or a landslide. We observed a close one in 2016 —Hillary Clinton, polls said, would win the popular vote by between 3% and 5%, and she did. But let’s talk about landslides.

It’s 1932, the country is in a severe depression — contemporary pundits always compare situations to the Great Depression, and that’s the one I’m talking about — and Franklin D. Roosevelt is running against incumbent Herbert Hoover. Roosevelt collects 472 electoral votes to Hoover’s 59 in a year that closed with a 23.6% unemployment rate and a gross domestic product of minus 72.9%. Yet Roosevelt secured only 57.4% of the popular vote, to Hoover’s 39.7%. (Economic statistics from Thebalance.com)

Get the idea? In the teeth of a depression — bread lines and all of that — Hoover still received four in 10 votes cast.

It’s 1972, and Richard Nixon blows the doors off the Democrats and George McGovern. The electoral vote was 520 to 17. The popular vote was 60.7% to 37.5%. Right, better than one in three voters went for McGovern.

It’s 1980, and incumbent Jimmy Carter loses, big time, to challenger Ronald Reagan, despite receiving 41% of the vote to Reagan’s 50.7%, with independent candidate John Anderson receiving 6.6%. Final score, Reagan 489, Carter 89, Anderson 0.

It was November 1988 and the record album “New Jersey” by Bon Jovi was topping the charts, as Casey Kasem would say. George H.W. Bush hammered Michael Dukakis by 426 to 111 electoral votes while securing 53.4% of the vote. Dukakis received 45.6% (all voting statistics from Britannica.com).

In this country and with its elections, 55% qualifies as a landslide. If three of your neighbors vote for a candidate while two vote for the other one, that’s a blowout. A mandate from the people. A clear signal for change.

Things could easily change between now and Nov. 3, but as I write, Biden is comfortably ahead of Trump. Near landslide range, and with California, New York and Illinois in his pocket — 55, 29 and 20 electoral votes, respectively — that’s 38.9% of Biden’s needed total of 270 to win.

So, who are those Trump fans? Forty percent of the voting population, roughly, and not confined to red states, although the “comments” section of a national news website, following an opinion piece, recently included a remark from a reader identifying herself as a woman with a daughter employed in the lighting business in Hollywood films, who told her that Republican leadership is hiring people to swell audiences at Trump rallies.

When Trump says something on little research, and that’s often, I am inclined to be skeptical. So I am with this one, although it has positively been confirmed that Trump’s down-the-gold-staircase announcement in 2015 that he would campaign for the presidency — you remember, Mexicans are all rapists but some are good people — included a number of out-of-work actors paid $150 each to applaud him. Nonetheless, securing 40% of the popular vote, two weeks from now, could be the linchpin in a squeaked-out election win or a historic drubbing.

I wonder how many people simply attend Trump rallies, damn the slings and arrows of pandemic, for their entertainment value. A circus-comes-to-town sort of attraction. The media merely find the hardcore Trump cultists, and rely on them to describe the event in messianic terms. How close will this election be? Not very, I suspect.

EdinKenmore@gmail.com

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