Final US Presidential Debate: Trump May Have Decreased Chance of Success

Letters to the Editor | October 20, 2016, Thursday // 20:00
Bulgaria: Final US Presidential Debate: Trump May Have Decreased Chance of Success File photo, EPA/BGNES

Novinite is publishing a comment by our reader Mr David Hampson on the third debate between US presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump held on Sunday evening. 

David Hampson has worked in the US Government, Academia and the Private Sector. Working in the private sector and for the U.S. Government, David has undertaken projects in South America, Africa and Europe. For the last seventeen years he has concentrated his focus on South Eastern Europe from a base in Bulgaria. His focus has concentrated of assisting Direct Foreign Investment to the region and working on a number of large investment projects including the privatization of the Bulgarian National Telecom where he served as the Senior Advisor on the ground, to three Chief Executive Officers.

We have already published Mr Hampson's comments on the first and second presidential debates.

The third and final Presidential debate is over. Now 19 days remain until Election Day. How did the candidates perform? Trump for the first 30 minutes showed greater control in staying on message than he has previously.

The format and the moderator (admirably managed by Chris Wallace from Fox News) allowed for specific subject matters to be addressed from the economy, foreign policy, emigration, the Supreme Court nomination and linking to possible Russian interference in supporting “Wikileaks”, plus issues of substantial interest to women voters including rights to determine abortion.

Women voters will almost certainly be a major component of the Clinton voting support. A major topic is the policy of taxation reform with Trump wanting to cut taxes particularly for the wealthy as opposed to Clinton claiming the wealthy need to contribute more.

Slowly Clinton’s positions and response began to push Trump’s responses. He began to attack more. Not only during his opportunities for presenting his positions but as in past debates breaking into her set opportunities to speak. Statistics at the end of the debate showed he attacked Clinton 60 times to her 23. Many of his interruptions were one “liners” or even one word interruptions. So how did the initial polls view winners and losers?

Clinton was shown to have once again won the debate by 52% to 39%. It was a three to zero victory for Clinton during the debates. Another statistic was which of them was better prepared for the Presidency. Again she won the vote 59% to 35%.

Reference the polls and late swings from one candidate to the other it should be understood that most voters have already decided the candidate of their choice. A significant statistic illustrating this was 87% of voters saying they have no change in the vote. In fact in many States voting has already begun.

With 19 days to November 8 what are the scenarios that are unfolding. “Never say never”, but it appears very late for Trump to have any realistic chance of overcoming the Clinton lead for her to be elected the next President of the United States.

How can we gauge how votes will be dispersed? First it is important to understand that the voters do not elect the President   and Vice President directly but through something called the United State Electoral College. Each state is awarded a number of “electors” based on the number of members of Congress they are awarded based on population size but all get two electors one for each Senator.  For example California the largest state has 60 electors, Texas 38, New York 29, Pennsylvania 20, down to smaller states such as Nebraska with 9, Nebraska with 5, Montana and South Dakota with 3.

Currently there are 538 electors from the 50 states plus a relatively new addition of the District of Columbia (Washington DC) with 3 votes which had traditionally the Capital with no electors. All states except Maine and Nebraska use a winner take all system. All electors are pledged to the Presidential candidate who wins the most votes in their state. From the above the winner will be the candidate first to accumulate 270 electoral votes.

A large number of states tend to vote either Republican or Democrat election after election. However some states have the reputation for what is known as a “swing state”. These states it is felt could vote in either direction. It is these states that the candidates focus on and are an indicative measure of the direction that the election will go. These states require intensive attention and support. However it is also these states which can essentially give an early indication of how each candidate will perform in the election.

Let us look at the current group of swing states. Colorado shows Clinton ahead by 45% to 39%, Florida 46.8% to 43.4%, Michigan 46.4% to 37.6%, New Hampshire 44.4% to 39.4%, North Carolina 47.6% to 44.0%,Virginia 46.2% to 35%, Pennsylvania 48..4% 41.2%,

Wisconsin 46.4% to 41.2%. Conversely Trump leads in two swing states, Iowa 43.4% to 39.8% and Ohio 45.6% to 45.2 almost a dead heat. Being as the Democrats will have an initial lead based purely on the current ratio of states that will vote for Clinton, example California and New York, Trump must succeed massively in the swing states to have a chance.

Currently Electoral College projections combining polls on who   the voters are favoring and leaning towards, all 14 major polls show Clinton as passing the 270 electoral votes needed with projections ranging for totals of between 272 to 341 votes. 

“Never say never” but in this campaign it would appear that Trump has a large mountain to climb to reach 270 Electoral College votes.

One statement he made during the 3rd debate may well have decreased his potential for any chance of success. That was his statement that he was unwilling to say at this time if he would accept the outcome of the election if he looses. That statement alone does not endear him to a public who firmly believe that it is a part of the political history of the United States that this maxim is observed.

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Tags: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, presidential debate

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