Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Does 2016 Hold Clues to 2024?

There are all manner of ways of looking at the 2024 election. We and others have explored many of them and will continue to do so. The other Nate (Cohn), of The New York Times, has a take on the polling that somewhat echoes something we've written about Joe Biden's polling numbers, namely that it's very possible that some meaningful number of undecideds and third-party respondents are just protesting right now, and will eventually be Biden voters.

Cohn notes that in 2016, the initial reaction to Donald Trump among Republicans was mixed, at best. Many Republicans harbored doubts that he was up to the job. Some didn't like his lack of experience and volatile temperament. Then there was the "grab 'em by the p**sy" bit, which, in the E. Jean Carroll cases, we later learned was true.

All this uncertainty was reflected in the polls at the time. Among Republicans, Trump was polling in the 70s for months. Even in the final weeks, he was polling in the low 80s among Republicans. This is why so many polls had Hillary Clinton winning: Republicans were abandoning Trump due to his many flaws. This lack of popularity with Republican voters also explains why Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson was polling at 10% close to the election.

But in the last few days of the 2016 race, nearly all the Republican voters came home. The thought of Hillary Clinton as president was too much for them and they held their nose and voted for Trump, despite their many misgivings. Note that these were not "shy Trump voters" who were embarrassed to tell pollsters that Donald was their new true love. They really didn't like him. They could have voted for Johnson or stayed home. In the end, the partisan pull was too strong and they pulled the lever or marked the box for the (R).

Is the situation now the same as in 2016, albeit as a mirror image? Many voters don't like the major party candidates now, as in 2016, so the polling for minor candidates is out of sight. Large numbers of Democrats think Joe Biden is too old or too timid or too something and are not inspired by him. Black and Latino men, especially, are quite unhappy with him for a variety of reasons, mostly that he didn't deliver on the unrealistic expectations they had. Many young voters don't like Biden's support for Israel. But in 2016, according to the exit polls, 88% of Republicans voted for Trump, 8% voted for Hillary Clinton, and 4% voted for a third-party candidate. Among Democrats, 89% voted for Clinton, 8% voted for Trump, and 3% voted for a third-party candidate. That means that when push came to shove, most people came "home" to their party, despite the candidate's obvious and major defects. The pull of partisanship is that strong. Will that happen this year? Check back with us in mid-November when the exit polls are released. (V)

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