Exactly four year years ago to the day, I wrote a column for Forbes entitled, “What If It Isn’t Close After All?” My topic was about the 2012 election and the break toward President Obama that my polls and those of other pollsters were showing. As you recall, that election was a close one and both the President and his opponent, Mitt Romney, took turns swinging into the lead. But Saturday the message was becoming clear: 18-29 year olds and self-identified members of the Creative Class were clearly moving in the President’s direction both nationwide and in the battleground states. Mr. Obama who had secured 66% of the vote among 18-29 year olds and close to 60% of the Creative Class in 2008 was under performing significantly among both groups leading up to the 2012 election.
My column’s headline was prompted by the fact that by Saturday there was major movement among both groups toward Obama and he was beginning to take the lead in the polls over Romney. As he consolidated his lead nationally and in the battleground states, it was a result mainly of his numbers among both groups getting closer to his performance four years earlier. Thus, my suggestion was that he could win most of the battleground states by slim margins and win a huge electoral-college victory.
Here we are with just a few days left in 2016 and there is not a similar movement. Here is what I am seeing thus far:
- Republicans Are Coming Home – after serious doubts expressed among mainstream and traditional conservative Republicans about nominee Donald Trump, it looks like he is polling about 90% of self-identified Republicans, exactly where a party standard-bearer needs to be.
- Young African Americans Are Not Quite In Clinton’s Camp – this is a serious cause for concern among supporters of Mrs. Clinton. The New York Times/CBS Poll published this past Thursday, shows her leading Mr. Trump 82%-3%, which has been reported as huge. It is indeed a great margin but it also means 15% are still not sure or supporting someone else. When I see African Americans who are undecided, especially this late in the game, it tells me that they are not going to vote. Every African American who does not vote is a lost vote for Clinton. It is not surprising that the President, First Lady, Pharrell Williams, Jay-Z, and Beyonce are being dispatched to North Carolina and other states with large African American votes. At this point, she is under performing in these states.
- Millennials May Stay Home – young voters in general still have about one in five who are undecided. As I noted above, they were the key group, especially young women, who put Mr. Obama over the top in 2012. We are still not sure if they are going to even vote. We do know they will not support Mr. Trump, but Mrs. Clinton is still polling around 50% of 18-29 year olds and many are telling pollsters and reporters that she represents the Establishment, something they reject.
- Latinos Will Vote –– this is the group that is propping up Mrs. Clinton. They are registered, have voted already in several states, and are motivated to reject the politics and pronouncements of Mr. Trump. Look for a very high turnout of Latinos and Mrs. Clinton outperforming Mr. Obama’s big showing four years ago.
But for now, momentum in this race for the past week has been with Mr. Trump. The nationwide polls are tight – a Clinton lead of less than a percent in the last four polls released – and more states are either showing a Trump lead or a razor-thin margin for Clinton.
I honestly still do not know who will show up to vote or how this will turn out on Election Day. I will still be watching closely and reporting each until then.