Eight weeks to Election Day

Eight weeks to Election Day 

Posted: 2:43 am Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

By Jamie Dupree

With less than two months until the November elections, there are obviously a lot of unsettled questions about what the voters will do in the race for President and in elections for the new Congress.

So, let’s see if we can make any sense of where we are eight weeks out from November 8.

1. This is not a lock for Hillary Clinton. I have been telling my co-workers and friends for months, don’t get caught up in the hype that Hillary Clinton is (in the words of horse racing handicapper Andrew Beyer) a “mortal lock.” Yes, the polls show an edge for Clinton both nationally and in key swing states. But the last week – which featured a series of trouble spots for Clinton – should be enough of a reminder that Donald Trump can still win this race, or Hillary Clinton can stumble as well, and lose it. Back in January and February, lots of very smart people said it was preposterous to think that Trump could win a primary or caucus, let alone the GOP nomination – but he did. Why can’t Trump win in November?

2. Can Trump’s unconventional campaign work? The stories are reported in state after state – Democrats have all sorts of offices and people working on voter turnout for November, along with a huge advertising advantage, while Trump has hardly any offices in key states, and a ground game that sometimes seems haphazard at best. If Trump loses in key states like Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania by small margins, a lot of people will point to his organization – or lack thereof. Trump also isn’t running that big of a television advertising campaign, as he’s been outspent badly on the air by Clinton and Democrats. His supporters argue his crowds are so large that they foreshadow victory on November 8.

3. What about Hillary’s health? After video surfaced of Clinton seemingly collapsing while being ushered to a waiting van by security aides on Sunday in New York, Team Clinton could no longer mock reporters for asking questions about her coughing fits of last week and more. This issue seems like a pretty simple election formula – if Clinton doesn’t have any repeat health issues and isn’t hacking away during the debates, then questions about her health will probably fade away. But if anything else pops up related to her health, it will get much more attention down the home stretch from reporters – especially if it is found that the Clinton campaign isn’t being straightforward with the facts.

4. Can Trump stay on message? The answer to this question is ‘probably not,’ but Trump has done a better job in the last few weeks of zeroing in on Clinton and not messing up his own message by settling scores with other Republicans who aren’t on the ballot against him in November. In recent days, Trump has spent more time on the argument that he represents change, and that Clinton is the status quo, as he also winds in criticism about her emails and more. Trump on Monday also ramped up an attack on Clinton for being against the average voter – a line on the “basket of deplorables” that many of his supporters have swiftly embraced:

5. What about the Congress? I have been skeptical from the start that Republicans would face an election massacre with Trump on top of the ticket. Maybe I’m going to be wrong. Maybe the Democrats will not only win the Senate but make larger than expected gains in the House. But I just don’t feel that. Yes, the Democrats will try to tie just about any Republican to Trump – but will that really work if the race for President is not a blowout? My gut tells me the closer the election stays, the better it is for Republicans in their quest to keep control of both houses of Congress.

Remember, there is a lot of time left. Eight weeks of news cycles, good lines, gaffes and opportunities galore. The first debate is in 13 days.

Stay tuned.

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