The Hillary Clinton campaign did not have a good weekend. On Friday night, Trump’s team seized upon a Hillary quote during a fundraiser hosted by Barbara Streisand in which Clinton called “half” of Trump’s supporters a “basket of deplorables” because they are racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and Islamaphobic. Donald Trump and his team made hay out of the statement all day Saturday, expressing outrage and feigning hurt:
Wow, Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters, millions of amazing, hard working people. I think it will cost her at the Polls!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2016
It even briefly gave Donald Trump a moment to pretend to be compassionate.
While Hillary said horrible things about my supporters, and while many of her supporters will never vote for me, I still respect them all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2016
Clinton, however, managed to wipe that comment off the front page by getting woozy during a 9/11 event, and later releasing a statement saying that she has pneumonia, essentially playing into all of conspiracy theories the alt-right has about her health.
Clinton supporters and #NeverTrumpers probably spent much of the weekend freaking out, newly terrified of the prospect of a Trump presidency. Clinton had her 47 percent moment. Her campaign was screwed.
Except it’s not, because the 47 percent comment didn’t derail Mitt Romney’s campaign, either. I remember specifically thinking that it would at the time, but the electorate has a short memory. That comment was released on September 17th, but by the time the debates rolled around a week later, voters had forgotten. In fact, after Romney failed to shit his pants in the first debate, the media suggested that he’d won by virtue of beating expectations. The 47 percent comment was but a distant memory by election day.
That’s the thing at this point in the election: Everyone has made up their mind, and “mistakes” like these only feed into our preconceived narratives. For every Trump supporter expressing faux outrage at being called a “deplorable,” there’s a Clinton supporter nodding their head and saying, “Well, they are deplorable.” On social media, both sides scored victories, essentially cancelling each other out:
BREAKING: People who made this shirt a best seller at Trump rallies DEEPLY offended by the word "deplorable." pic.twitter.com/JNNeT08N7B— Danny Zuker (@DannyZuker) September 10, 2016
Likewise, the Trump camp sees Clinton’s pneumonia diagnosis as evidence that she is a lying liar of lies who hid her diagnosis for three days and whose health makes her unfit to be President. The Clinton camp sees it as evidence that Hillary Clinton is a bad ass who continued campaigning for three days in spite of a pneumonia diagnosis. There are a lot who are also thinking — and saying — that they’d vote for Hillary Clinton’s corpse before they voted for Trump.
This weekend changes nothing. It only hardens positions, and probably divides both sides even more. Clinton is probably going to make a few more mistakes and score a few more points before November, and Trump is likely to do the same, but it will all be a wash and in the end; we’re all going to vote for whom we were predisposed to vote for anyway.
Here’s the thing, and the reason Clinton supporters shouldn’t worry too much about the day-to-day news cycles. Obama won by four percentage points over Romney in 2012. Romney was a reasonable candidate. Now, think to yourself: How many people do you know who voted for Obama who are voting for Trump this time around? Zero, right? Such a scenario is almost unimaginable, and Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment really only solidifies that Obama coalition. Now, how many Romney voters will be voting for Clinton this year? There’s more than a few, I would imagine. Again, never mind the day-to-day horse race the media has manufactured. Pull back from that, and it still comes down to math.
For eight years, the 51 percent of America that voted for Barack Obama has been going to the same restaurant for breakfast, and eating some pretty good pancakes. The restaurant, however, has come under new management; the owner is selling it to one of his best employees. Unfortunately, she burnt the toast a couple of times over the weekend. Are people going to stop going to that restaurant because of a couple of off meals? Or are they going to go to the restaurant down the street, which pours sewage on their pancakes and calls it the “best syrup you’ve ever had. The greatest syrup!” People aren’t going to stop going to Obama’s House of Pancakes, even if the new owner gets sick, because she’s got a pretty great sous chef, as well, and because she doesn’t pour sewage on her food.
It’s September 12th. This election has been going on for a year and a half, and everyone already knows these candidates. They’re probably the two best known candidates in American political history. Voters made up their minds months ago. A Clinton supporter is not going to suddenly jump ship because she called half of Trump’s voters racist, and a Trump supporter is not going to switch sides because Hillary showed her mettle by campaigning through pneumonia.
Again, it’s math. It always comes down to math. Trump may be able to bring out a few more angry white men and turn those red states even redder, and Clinton may be able to take advantage of the anger that Trump has provoked in college-educated people, women, and non-whites and turn a purple state light blue, but in the end, it’s all going to be a wash. The Clinton and Trump campaigns no longer exist to change your minds; they exist to validate your feelings, and the more your feelings are validated, the more likely you will be to vote. What happened over the weekend didn’t change any minds; it only validated our respective opinions even more.