It seems like the closest presidential election in a long time. John Kennedy won by a mere 1,00,000 votes in 1960. The Chicago machine of Mayor Daley had delivered Illinois. Richard Nixon declined to object. Of course, always, there are two separate results. The popular vote is what most people look at. But the real number is of members of the Electoral College on either side. It is possible not to win majority vote but still win. In 2000, Al Gore lost Florida narrowly due the ‘hanging chads’. (American states have separate vote count systems. The Indian way is too advanced.) Florida carries a lot of Electoral College votes and winner takes all.
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This election is unique for many reasons. This is the first time a woman candidate has won the nomination of her party. She is of course a thoroughly professional politician, having worked at state and federal level in executive and legislative positions. Plus eight years as First Lady. The Man is a total amateur in politics. He is a businessman, a media star who fronted successful TV talent contests. He is flamboyant. He is the first candidate to have got his party’s nomination without ever having served in any capacity at any level.
The campaign has been unorthodox and often bitter. Professionals thought that the irresponsible statements by Donald Trump will make him unpopular. But he won in many primaries. He got free TV coverage by making outrageous statements. Trump has turned the amateur status to his advantage. His listeners are shell-shocked and unlikely to be surprised by any further outrage. Indeed he has won new votes by plumbing the depths of voters’ prejudices. Democrats are incredulous that he has come this far defying all rules of politics. He claims to be the champion of (white) workers deprived by globalisation. The subterranean message is that when Barack Obama became the first black president, many white voters felt a loss of entitlements. The Tea Party movement, a right-wing populist party which can harness the anger of people who believe they have been deprived, created Trump.
Hillary Clinton’s problems are due to her professionalism. She has a massive sense of entitlement. No other woman has come close to her achievements. But by the same token, it was her arrogance which gave her the idea that she could conduct US foreign policy on her own private email server. How Obama let her do so is hard to explain. Of course he owed a lot to the Clintons when he got elected in 2008.
It is the emails which could be the undoing of Hillary Clinton. The revelation that Trump is a crude male chauvinist is not shocking, as he has never pretended to be anything else. So while the Democrats were cock-a-hoop when the recorded dialogue between Billy Bush and Trump came out, the liberal media jumped on it and then over-gilded the lily by getting many women to reveal that Trump had behaved crudely with them. The lucky break for Trump has come during the last few days of the campaign with more emails being released by the FBI. If you are choosing a president, what would you care about — guarding your country’s secrets or the misbehaviour of the president with women? I predict Him to win.