Save good news mirages appearing to some Donald Trump supporters, most observers anticipate a Hillary Clinton win in less than two weeks. Yes, undecided numbers are still relatively high, so Trump’s loss is not a sure thing for cautious analysts, but early voting trends and poll momentum suggest the more practical question is how big Clinton’s win will be.

The bigger Trump’s loss, the more dramatic the ripple effects, both locally and globally. I’ll look at local, down ticket implications this week and global implications next.

For local races the Trump nomination looks like a catastrophe. He’s left the down ticket candidates, from US Senators to state legislative representatives and local sheriffs and judges, strapped for funding and damaged by association with his brand.

Local campaigns bloom later than presidential races. Tight local races are often fought and won in their last two weeks, with PR blasts and targeted Get Out the Vote efforts, both of which are expensive.

After becoming the presumed nominee, Trump had trouble raising funds directly from the bigger party money. Therefore, the Trump/GOP fundraising efforts have been more entwined than in typical campaigns. The party supported Trumps’s anaemic accounts throughout the summer and Trump did mass fundraisers among his enthusiastic base of smaller dollar donors.

But now, in the final weeks when the GOP is tapped out and local candidates need to do their big push, Trump has cancelled the fundraisers. The infusions of funds for local competitive candidates this year won’t happen, and the staffing required for GOTV efforts never existed. (If my inbox is any indication, the Trump camp’s GOTV effort is reduced to spamming any former Republican donors.) Typically in presidential election years, local candidates supplement the GOTV efforts of the presidential campaign, but the Trump campaign has not bothered with local staffing. This year, local candidates are on their own.

Then, we have the “coat-tails” problem. A popular candidate at the top of a ticket usually helps down ticket races. The ballot in my precinct this year has around 50 races to select, and the convenience option of straight party voting wins votes for many local offices that people might undervote for lack of knowledge or patience.

I don’t favour it because it promotes local issue ignorance. Voters pick local state and local politicians based upon the party of their preferred US Representative. (The coat-tail effect is most pronounced for Congress members.) But that has too many gaps.

For instance, the Houston Independent School District has a funding proposal on the ballot to fight the state’s Robin Hood school funding scheme. (Basically, schools are funded through local property taxes and richer, usually urban districts are required to donate funds to poorer, usually rural districts.) It’s a non partisan issue, not covered any a quick party vote. Also, Houston has some legal issues. Readers might recall the Planned Parenthood video scandal and later when the PP workers selling baby parts got a pass but those recording the incriminating interview got indicted. That’s my district attorney, and that wasn’t her only scandal.

Straight party voting isn’t advisable. Still some vote straight party, but this year the effect is uncertain. To start with the obvious, Trump has the poorest favourability ratings ever measured and once-reliable Republican voters plan on voting Libertarian or Democratic. It is not the ideal year for for Republicans to tout the supposed virtues of straight voting.

Alas, it is a defensive recommendation. Trump supporters who are upset with Republican regret after the latest round of Trump scandals have threatened to vote Democratic down ticket out of spite. This spite threatens Republican control of a solid majority of state governments and FiveThrityEight picked up solid movement toward Democrats to take a majority in the US Senate last week.

Between the actual objections to Trump and the spite over those objections, Clinton might have the appearance of long coat-tails. The bigger her win, the wider and deeper the Republican loss. She may well enter office with the illusion of a mandate and weakened opposition in all branches and at all levels of government.

And if that’s not depressing enough, I’ll discuss foreign policy ripples next week.

(Image: Gage Skidmore)

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Leslie Loftis
Leslie is a once and future American expat, most recently in London. She is also a lawyer and former local political campaign operative turned freelance writer. She currently lives in her hometown of Houston with her husband and their four children. Find her on twitter @AHLondonTX.


  1. There is, in this particular presidential election, a bigger incentive than usual not to vote “straight party” – if people can be bothered to inform themselves adequately about candidates for local office etc.

    The effect of voter “inertia” or laziness, will make a Clinton victory a bigger political catastrophe than it might be.

  2. Leslie, you’re a lawyer according to your bio so I assume that you have the ability to read small print and not just headlines.

    You will therefore be aware that the “yay Hillary” polls have all been exposed as having achieved their results by over-sampling pro-Hillary demographics (registered Dems, Blacks etc).

    (For anynoe who isn’t aware, here’s a summary of how they do it:

    I pointed this out a week ago,

    This week we learned from the Podesta leaked emails that this practice was being actively encouraged by the Clinton campaign.

    But you already know all this, Leslie, so I have to ask the question – what is going on here? Why are you repeating stories which you will know to be incorrect? Is this a “never Trump” tactic?

    Sorry if this sounds harsh, but we seem to have a number of ‘conservative’ commentators who are repeating the false Clinton narrative and it is very similar to the situation before the Brexit vote, where so-called conservatives were repeating blatently-untrue stories that originated from the left.

    • Good question. Thanks for the link.

      That link seems to have got the bracket stuck on the end of it when you click on it. Works
      if you just delete the bracket.

    • Yes, I am capable of reading fine print, and of learning from my own mistakes, which was the subject of an America Watch a few weeks ago. Last time around, I too placed my hopes in arguments about oversampling’s and poll assumption special sauces. (That was the watch phrase in 2012, “special sauce.”) Not only did those special sauce arguments lead R’s to disappointment on election night, but also this year they are even weaker. For instance, the zerohedge link calls one double digit Clinton lead into question, but what about the others? Check out the Real Clear Politics lists and even the LATimes poll that has been the pro-Trump outlier (possibly for over-weighting one black male Trump supporter in the Mid-west, as a fine print investigation suggests) — even that poll supports a Trump collapse.

      Denial is high. In the past week my FB feed has seen various “Trump is winning!” posts flitting around. There’s a video that asserts that we know Trump must be winning because he has more Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram followers than Clinton. Another headline blazed that Trump was up in early voting in Florida, but early voting hadn’t started in Florida. (Now that I think on it, that might have been a zerohedge headline). Clicking through to the fine print, I found that someone had made assumptions based upon the demographics of absentee ballot requests in Florida. They weren’t even returned ballots, simply requests. It was a special sauce analysis of someone else’s special sauce.

      The overwhelming weight of the polls and the early voting patterns — certainly in Harris County and Texas where I have paid close attention — all forewarn of a huge Republican loss. This is not Brexit when the polls were tight and Leave saw an uptick in the final days that was actually the start of a surge of voters breaking to Leave. Based upon current polling numbers, even if Trump got a Leave sized swing, he’d still lose. Clinton’s lead is much larger than Remain’s edge was. Yet, many have put so much stock in poll debunking and other indicators that I worry about shock and rage on election night. People are expecting a Brexit surprise, but Trump isn’t in range for one.

      I will mention one other, informal indicator that has bothered me for weeks, but I’ve never had any place to put it: yard signs. Texas is a red state, with Republican control of almost all state offices. There are few Trump yard signs, and of the houses with them, they’ve tucked them away behind bushes. There were more probably 6 weeks ago, but people took them down. There aren’t many Hillary signs either, but they are increasing as the election closes. Not scientific, but an indicator of a mood that is not good for the R’s.

      • Thank you for taking the time to write such a comprehensive reply, but to me this is just confirmation that the Dem’s tactics of rigging the polls and intimidating Trump supporters (who would otherwise have yard signs) have been successful.

    • I really, genuinely, cannot understand why any self-respecting black American would vote for the party of slavery, of segregation and Jim Crow, of Detroit.

  3. My Canadian in laws who visit the USA very regularly say there is a sense of collective mortification pervading the American middle classes (and so there should be).

    What a terrible mess.

  4. A great question would be how did Trump get this far? Why did he beat all the establishment canidates in the primary?

  5. Let’s just wait and see shall we?

    The way the establishment are reporting Trump, I wouldn’t believe an article (or study, or poll) which said he was male without independent verification.

    Trump is filling venues wherever he goes. Every non-pollster poll has him winning big – and yes, self selected sample, but let’s not pretend that the Clinton campaign isn’t trying their best to “game” those polls: this is a campaign with a PAC which is paying people to post btl comments!

    I know that you are “once bit, twice shy” but sometimes (to mix the metaphor) the wolf does turn up.

  6. I don’t trust opinion polls because of who “owns” them and too many times in the UK the polls were contradicted by the results. Wait, work, pray and we’ll see later….

  7. Reading your article from February it might be thought that in respect of their prosperity that the evangelicals hadn’t read or understood the story of Job. If I understand it correctly, they and the conservative middle class have given their support to Trump who turns out not to be what they originally thought. If they felt let down by the establishment they must be doubly disappointed by Trump, especially as he will gift a victory to Hillary. Unlike Job, the evangelicals have abandoned trust in the God they believe in, and turned instead to someone whose unsavoury character has been so adequately described by many that I don’t need to summarise it. Good luck with Hillary. It’s your country, after all.

  8. One would expect that conscientious voters who thought it important to vote for, and hopefully to elect, “deserving down-ballot candidates,” would do so irrespective of the top of the ticket, and simply to say “plague on both houses” for the Presidential race.

    The nub of it, then, is, just how many “conscientious voters” are there, and will this be reflected in vote tallies where votes cast for Senators, Congress Members and state legislators exceed that for the Presidential candidates? One would like to think so, but I’m thinking, probably not.

  9. This whole Obamacare issue has blown up just in time to help Trump. I’m not saying it will win it for him but it will close the gap.After four years of Clinton you might end up with an NHS, God help you then.

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