David R. Henderson  

Incentives and Get Out the Vote

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Although I still think Hillary Clinton is likely to win the presidency, both she and some of her supporters are unwittingly undercutting one of her big advantages: her "get out the vote" effort. Clinton is leaving nothing to chance, putting together a sophisticated get out the vote effort that rivals that of Barack Obama in 2012. Trump, by contrast, is hardly doing anything to get out the vote. Put those facts together with even the small polling advantage the Clinton has in the polls--and she should win by a nice margin.

But Clinton and her supporters are also unwittingly investing in Trump's get out the vote effort. Here's what Clinton said about Trump voters:

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?

The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic -- you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people -- now how 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks -- they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America. But the other basket -- and I know this because I see friends from all over America here -- I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas -- as well as, you know, New York and California -- but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they're just desperate for change. It doesn't really even matter where it comes from. They don't buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won't wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroine, feel like they're in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.


There you have it. According to Clinton, half of Trump's supporters are deplorable and un-American. The other half are desperate.

I'm not saying anything new by saying how insulting this is. But here's the other point: Clinton has made a huge investment--not measured by cost but measured by value--in getting out Donald Trump's vote. Think about the Trump supporters. Not all of them were planning to vote. Even some of those who were planning could get sidetracked--on November 8 it's raining, it's snowing, it's hot, it's cold, the lines are long, whatever. But it's quite conceivable that as many as 2 million potential Trump-supporting non-voters will be voters because of Clinton's nasty comments.

And if you want to see a very clever response by Trump and his supporters, see this.

Similarly, some of her Hollywood supporters have made an unintentionally hilarious ad. What's so striking is their moral preening and their almost complete absence of an argument for voting for Clinton. To the extent Trump supporters see this, they will be more inclined than otherwise to vote for Trump. I expect the ad to have a smaller positive effect on the Clinton vote for three reasons: (1) it doesn't really say much, (2) what it does say is hardly inspiring to people who aren't passionate about her, and (3) the people who are moved by it are already being identified and brought to the polls by Clinton's get out the vote effort.


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COMMENTS (9 to date)
Michael writes:

That Clinton ad was intentionally light and kind of funny (although short of hilarious). What am I missing that you saw it as "unintentionally hilarious"?

Ben H. writes:

"I'm not saying anything new by saying how insulting this is." Of course, that doesn't mean it is untrue, and nowhere in your post do you even try to refute it. But I agree that it was politically unwise, even if actually true.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Michael,
What am I missing that you saw it as "unintentionally hilarious"?
I don’t know if you’re missing it at all; different people have different senses of humor. It’s just like so much of Hollywood--they try to make a statement and end up talking about themselves. It’s like Julia Roberts at the Oscars when Halle Berry won an Oscar: “I love my life.” She couldn’t for a minute let this be about Halle Berry.

Thaomas writes:

People who hold deplorable racist and xenophobic views are not deplorable, just the views. It is not controversial that the more than half of Mr Trump's supporters who believe that President Obama is a Muslim and was born abroad hold deplorable views and are probably not reachable by normal political appeals. Those who are "desperate for change" in principle are reachable if that can be persuaded that Sec. Clinton's proposals are more likely to make their lives better than Mr. Trumps.

As for the practical effect of the remark on encouraging those among Mr Trump's sympathizers with deplorable views to vote, I doubt it.

gda writes:

"...moral preening and their almost complete absence of an argument for voting for Clinton."

When you're Hillary Clinton, no other argument is needed other than "i'm entitled - it's my turn".

And yet those darn voters just won't cooperate - "how come I'm not 50 points up" says the entitled one.

Trump is in the perfect position - slightly behind with all the momentum and every chance that circumstances, the "October surprise" and a better than expected debate performance will catapult him into the lead. A final capitulation may well lead to a victory of landslide proportions.

Of course, Clinton could still win, but it is probably no longer in her palsied hands. There may be much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Hollywood and beyond come Nov 9.

AntiSchiff writes:

Dr. Henderson,

Unfortunately, I largely agree with this post. I expect a Clinton presidency to leave the country somewhat worse off, but I expect a Trump presidency to be far, far worse, in many ways.

David R. Henderson writes:

@AntiSchiff,
I expect a Clinton presidency to leave the country somewhat worse off, but I expect a Trump presidency to be far, far worse, in many ways.
I’m no longer so sure. With her itch to get into war, she could be substantially worse. On the other hand, he is a wild card. He could be worse than her or better.

Mark Bahner writes:
It is not controversial that the more than half of Mr Trump's supporters who believe that President Obama is a Muslim and was born abroad hold deplorable views...

How are those views "deplorable"?

From online Webster's definitions of "deplorable":

very bad in a way that causes shock, fear, or disgust : deserving to be deplored
deserving censure or contempt
MikeP writes:

But I agree that it was politically unwise, even if actually true.

Napoleon's invasion of Russia was politically unwise. Hillary Clinton's disparaging Trump's electorate was disastrously stupid!

A third of the voters are going to pick Trump. A third are going to pick Clinton. And a third are going to pick the sane one that doesn't resort to calling people names.

That middle third are now divided.

I have to agree with Thaomas: I don't think Clinton's comments will induce non-voting Trump supporters to vote. It just doesn't raise the interest level enough for them. The damage of Clinton's comments is that voters who want to vote for the safe choice have seen that she's not as safe a choice as they thought.

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