by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The good news is that both political conventions are now behind us. The bad news is that the election is ahead of us.
No one knows how this election will turn out, but — given the awful presidential candidates in both parties — the worst case scenario may be only marginally worse than the best case scenario. National polls may suggest a close election ahead, but presidential elections are not decided by who has a majority of the popular vote. In a country already divided, if not polarized, one candidate could win the popular vote and the other candidate win the Electoral College vote, which is what decides who goes to the White House. That could polarize us more than ever.
Everything may depend on what happens in the battleground states where neither party has a decisive advantage. Until recently, Hillary Clinton seemed to have a clear lead in those states. But that difference has narrowed to within the margin of error in some state polls.
Turnout is the wild card, in this election more than in most. There was booing in both conventions — and there are other signs that those who lost are not taking it kindly. How the losers vote, or stay home on Election Day, may determine who the winner will be.
If the Democrats lose this election, and Trump beats Hillary, it may not be anything more than losing a given election, as happens regularly, and Democrats can just regroup for the next election.
But if the Republicans lose, it can be much more serious for them and for the country. If Hillary Clinton inspires distrust, Donald Trump inspires disgust, even among many Republicans. If Trump goes down to defeat, he could taint the whole Republican party, costing them the Senate now and future elections later.