Election campaign is over; don’t believe the polls

The presidential election is over.  All that’s left is the voting.

So many voters have made up their minds that no new revelation about Clinton’s emails or Trump’s harassment of women will make any difference.

Many, possibly most, voters believe, “I’m not voting for the person, I’m voting for the policy.”

That thought may explain why the national election boils down to a choice between two unpopular candidates.  It became evident a few weeks ago that their differing views matter more than they do.

Voters often make their choice based on the personality and character of candidates.  While some wedge issues matter, the election is a vote of confidence in the person.

Oddly, in a campaign dominated by the candidates’ foibles and failings, issues are the driving force.  Admittedly, some are voting against one of the candidates, though that may be at least somewhat based on the issues.

Supreme Court appointments, gun control, social issues, immigration and the state of the economy divide the candidates.  Is America great?  Or must it recapture lost greatness?  Almost all voters have made up their minds on these issues, and the candidates are vehicles for the desired outcomes.

That explains why Speaker Paul Ryan, the GOP House leader, condemns what he considers Donald Trump’s racism, but has already voted for him.  More than 20 million people have also voted.

Many Democrats have doubts about Clinton, though they view her faults as less grievous than Trump’s.  They support her because of her promise of a renewed government role on many fronts.  Some remain unenthusiastic and distrusting, but see her as an essential alternative to Trump.

The myriad differences between the two candidates and their well-publicized defects have been widely known since the national conventions in July.  Voters have been bombarded heavily with campaign news.  Almost certainly, most have made up their minds and no new revelations can change them.

The number of voters who are truly undecided in the week before the election seems to be quite small.  It is likely that those who still can truly be swayed between the two candidates are not numerous enough to tip the balance of the election.

Wait.  The polls suggest that conclusion may be wrong.  The margin between Clinton and Trump varies from day to day, even hour by hour.  After each new bit of negative news about either of them, the polls swing.

Can it be true, that, every day, millions of people are changing their choice between the candidates?

Perhaps the problem is not that many voters are undecided and still open to persuasion, but rather that many polls are just plain wrong.  News reports relay them as if they are reliable, but both their methodology and the refusal of many to participate indicate they are not.

Compounding the uncertain poll results are the political forecasters, most of who rely heavily on polls as the raw material for their predictions.  As a result, the forecasts may be no better than the faulty data on which they are based.

We may never know how bad they are.  If the election results differ significantly from the polls, the pundits will claim there was “a last-minute shift” in opinion.

The biggest election unknown may be how many voters each party gets to vote.  The Republicans have a weak get-out-the-vote operation, trying instead to block likely Democratic voters.  Clinton and the Democrats are better able to get people to the polls.

Get-out-the-vote aside, the election has already been determined.  People say they are tired of the campaign, probably because their minds are made up.

Congressional and state races are different.  In these contests, local factors count.  In many cases, people may vote the party or the personality.

Senate races are particularly important.  Clinton-Trump has some impact, depending on who you think will win and whether you want them to be counterbalanced or supported by Congress.  The Senate could swing to the Democrats, influencing Court nominations.

In the House, the Democrats look like they can gain seats.  The result, if hard-line conservatives lose even some influence, could indicate how much room for compromise with Clinton there might be, if she’s elected.

Maine’s Second District race between incumbent Bruce Poliquin, a Republican loyalist, and newcomer Democrat Emily Cain is a prime case of an election that could have national impact.

Contrary to the view that policies matters more than persons, in the Maine legislative races, the campaign is heavily about one person – the always controversial Gov. Paul LePage.

Bottom line: on Tuesday, your vote matters.

Gordon L. Weil

About Gordon L. Weil

Gordon L. Weil is a former local, state, national and international organization official. He is an author and newspaper columnist.