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With Two Days Out, Here's the State of the Presidential Election

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 6, 2016 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 6, 2016 |

It’s the last weekend before the Presidential election, which is typically when the candidates make their final pushes, race around the country to hold rallies, and attempt to get out the vote. There’s been a whole lot of that this weekend (and for Clinton, a lot of celebrity guest stars, including Beyonce), but there has also been a lot of dramatics, most of the sort that won’t make a difference come election day.

For instance, on Friday night, the Wall Street Journal reported that The National Enquirer paid a Playboy Playmate $150,000 for exclusive rights to her story about an alleged affair with Donald Trump in 2006 (during his first year of marriage with Melania Trump). The Enquirer — which has been friendly to Trump — killed the story, and by paying for exclusive rights, ensured that it wouldn’t be printed anywhere else, either. If the Enquirer had published the story back in August — when it had first obtained it — nobody probably would’ve believed it, because it’s the Enquirer. If they’d published it after the Access Hollywood tape, it might have gained some traction, but probably not much because, again, it’s the Enquirer.

In fact, the biggest tip off that the affair almost certainly happened is that the Enquirer paid $150,000 to kill it. By not printing it, they gave the story credibility. In either respect, the story doesn’t move the needle much. Trump supporters already know that Trump is a sleaze. They already know that he ended two marriages by having affairs with other women. To find out that he had a year-long affair with another woman while his current wife was pregnant doesn’t mean sh*t to his supporters because, again, this election is not about character, or policy, it’s about identity.

An attempted assassination actually might move the needle, and for a few harrowing minutes last night, many believed that’s what was actually taking place during a Trump rally in Reno. It was one of those moments, however, that blew up on Twitter, with everyone making up their minds about what was happening based on their political views and not the actual facts. During the rally, there was a commotion, someone yelled “Gun,” Trump was rushed off stage by the Secret Service, and a man was escorted out and locked in a bathroom for questioning. Trump returned to finish the rally a few minutes later.

The reaction on Twitter from the alt-right was immediate: Our candidate is a bad ass who survived an assassination attempt by violent pro-Clinton forces.

Half an hour later, the actual facts came out: There was no gun. There was never a gun. People at the rally attacked a man for trying to raise a sign that said, “Republicans against Trump,” the man was shoved to the ground and beaten, and someone yelling gun may have been the only thing that saved the man’s life, because the police and the Secret Service came in and pulled him out of the fracas.

That did not stop the Trump campaign or even members of the Trump family from spreading false rumors that Trump had survived an assassination attempt.

Again, however, this incident is not going to move the needle. It might have last week, but it will be forgotten by this afternoon in the flurry of last-minute campaigning.

Beyond the drama surrounding the candidates, maybe the biggest story of the weekend was the Twitter fight that broke out between Nate Silver and a political writer for HufPo. Silver went off on a Tweetstorm over a Ricky Grim post that suggested that Silver’s methodology was flawed.

This sparked a number of articles about the nature of polls, their value, methodologies, etc., etc. It was probably a very fun weekend for statisticians.

Unlike in the past two elections, Silver hasn’t been as much of a source for comfort for Democrats because his methodology has been much more conservative than those of the NYTimes or HuffPo, both of which show Clinton with a much better chance at winning the election. This is not Silver’s problem. Silver is calling it like he sees it, and nothing more. He doesn’t owe any responsibility to develop a methodology that favors one candidate over the other.

That said, I think the NYTimes’ is a little more on the money with their predictions (theirs stands at about an 85 percent chance of victory for Hillary) and the early voting numbers, so far, have provided an abundance of good news for Clinton.

For instance, in Nevada and Florida, the Hispanic vote has been activated like never before, and low-propensity voters are coming out in full force. That is to say, Hispanic voters that aren’t typically factored into polls are showing up in large numbers. On Friday night, hours at polling stations were extended to accommodate the surge of Latino voters in Nevada, and by day’s end, Nevada had set records for early voting. At this point, unless something unforeseen happens, Clinton has already basically clinched Nevada. Thank you, Hispanic voters, for saving our white asses.

That’s important, because Clinton may lose a firewall state in New Hampshire, which is wavering right now. In fact, while people of color and a huge Hispanic turnout are putting Arizona and Georgia in play, Clinton is not faring as well in whiter states like Iowa and Ohio, and there’s even some alarmist fears that Pennsylvania, Michigan, or Wisconsin could fall because of white people. If Trump can turn out the white vote in huge numbers in one of those states, it may come down to Florida and North Carolina.

Based on early voting numbers, North Carolina is still looking very promising for Clinton. She’s in line to win it by 6 points, according to the NYTimes.

If Trump loses Florida, however, he’s cooked. If he loses Florida, the election is over by 9 p.m. on the East Coast and we can all go to bed confident that our democracy will remain intact for another four years.

The numbers out of Florida are also promising for Clinton.

There’s been a solid surge of Democratic voters in the last couple of days, and a huge turnout among Latino voters. As of Friday, the number of Democrats had finally surpassed the number of registered Republicans who had early voted. That was before yesterday:

In the Latino community, Donald Trump woke up a sleeping giant. If Hispanic voters are decisive — and it’s looking like they might be — it would be fitting that Trump’s rhetoric on Mexican immigrants and his proposal to build a wall would be his undoing.

Ultimately, as anxious as we all are about the election, it’s not going to be a particularly close race. Clinton is going to win, and she’s going to do so by a decisive 5 points or so, nationally, and Trump will be lucky if he gets the same number of Electoral College votes as Mitt Romney. The alt-right are like Scott Pilgrim fans were in 2010: Really loud, really vocal, and very passionate, but that movie only made $31 million at the box office.

Again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be worried, or anxious, or that we shouldn’t all go to the polls on Tuesday (if you haven’t already early voted), but barring a monumental shift in the race over the last 48 hours, Hillary Clinton is going to become this country’s first female POTUS.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.