The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal’s “Best of the Web” at The Wall Street Journal written by the editor, James Taranto.
But Not of Spelling Them
“Rapper Behind Song ‘Sell Drugz’ Is Accused of Selling Drugs”—headline, Associated Press, Nov. 1
Clinton Endorses Variety—Now That Would Be News
“Variety Endorses Clinton”—headline, TheHill .com, Nov. 1
Hey, Trump Could Win!
Don’t worry, Hillary. Even though you’re under FBI investigation, everything’s going to be fine. That’s the word from the Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky with seven days and five minutes till Election Day.
Oh sure, “some polls out Monday had the race a bit closer,” Tomasky allows. “But one, taken half before the Comey announcement and half after, had her up the same 7 percentage points she was before Comey intervened.” That would be the NBC News/SurveyMonkey tracking poll, conducted no doubt by three wise monkeys. Tomasky further notes of the polls that “all had Clinton still ahead.”
Gulp. This morning’s ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll shows Donald Trump with a one-point lead, 46% to 45%. This survey has jumped around a lot; it had Mrs. Clinton up by 12 points as recently as nine days ago. Mrs. Clinton leads Trump among voters experiencing ennui; 45% of her voters are “very enthusiastic” to 53% of his, ABC reports.
There are other Trump-trending polls as well. The Los Angeles Times has Mrs. Clinton trailing by 3.6 points, 46.9% to 43.3%. This poll has been an outlier in that it’s generally shown a close race and often shown Trump ahead, even when Mrs. Clinton had big leads in most other polls.
The New York Times’s Nate Cohn blames that divergence on “a 19-year-old black man in Illinois” and he makes a surprisingly strong case. Be that as it may, when Cohn wrote that last month, even the L.A. Times had Mrs. Clinton ahead, by 0.5 points. Even if the poll tends to overestimate Trump support, changes over time would still be significant.
The RealClearPolitics average has Mrs. Clinton down to a 2.2-point lead, and all the constituent polls (including the ABC/Post one) were conducted at least in part before Friday. “It might be too little too late, but with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign once again awash in controversy, the final days of the 2016 White House race are suddenly coming up Trump,” observes Politico’s Louis Nelson.
Then again, it might not. Trump could actually win this.
“If there is still a Trump election comeback scenario, it is beyond this columnist’s imaginative capacity,” this columnist wrote 2½ weeks ago in the wake of some accusations that looked bad for Trump. James Comey’s October surprise, courtesy of Anthony Weiner, took us by surprise; we guess we need to learn to be more creative.
The ABC/Post release explains the Trumpward shift:
There’s been consolidation for Trump among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents (86 percent now back him, up from 80 percent) and improvement for him among pure independents (i.e., those who don’t lean toward either party), up from an even split to a large Trump advantage, 25-54 percent, Clinton-Trump, across the past seven nights (combined for a larger samples size). Seventeen percent of pure independents pick someone else.
Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, meanwhile, Trump’s support has gone from 5 to 9 percent, a slight change but a statistically significant one. Clinton’s has been essentially steady.
In other words, Comey (intentionally or not) prompted voters who aren’t partisans of Mrs. Clinton to focus on her corruption and the sheer weirdness that surrounds her, making Trump look good by comparison.
Trump skeptics will note that the RCP averages still show him behind in most of the swing states—including even Arizona, which wasn’t supposed to be a swing state. But state polls are taken less frequently than national ones, and hence often are a lagging indicator. Trump has maintained slim leads in Iowa and Ohio, and now is up in Florida too.
In an ominous sign for Mrs. Clinton, the Hill reports on a new poll from the New Hampshire Journal suggesting she may not be able to take that state for Granite: Trump leads there, 45% to 43%. (Mrs. Clinton is up by 5.6 points in the RCP average, which doesn’t include the new survey.)
RCP’s Rebecca Berg and Alexis Simendinger report that Trump plans to “broaden his gaze in the final week of the presidential campaign, expanding from the central battleground states to others currently favoring Hillary Clinton”:
The strategy, his campaign says, seizes on shrinking polling margins in states like Michigan, New Mexico and Colorado. . . .
“Michigan is up for grabs,” Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, told CNN on Monday, a day when Trump made two stops there. The RealClearPolitics average shows Clinton leading in Michigan by 6.3 percentage points.
Clinton likewise maintains a solid polling advantage in Colorado and New Mexico, states that twice backed Barack Obama but where Trump has traveled in recent days.
If the Trump campaign looks confident—quite possibly overconfident—Mrs. Clinton and her supporters look a bit panicked. They spent the weekend attacking Comey, which is both understandable and typical Clinton behavior. But Comey isn’t on the ballot, and voters focused on him aren’t focused on Trump.
The Daily Caller reports longtime Clinton operative James Carville expanded the anti-Comey attack into a red-baiting conspiracy theory:
Speaking on MSNBC, Carville accused FBI Director James Comey of “acting in concert and coordination with House Republicans. End of story.” . . .
At the conclusion of the interview, Carville said, “I can’t think about the election right now, what I can think about, what I can talk about, is how unprecedented this is. And how the House Republicans and the KGB are trying [to] affect our democracy. And I think that’s a very important issue. I think it’s probably the most important issue anybody’s faced in a presidential campaign in a long, long time.”
Defenders of Mrs. Clinton have also pulled out the “woman card,” to hilarious effect. Writing at Time.com, Jill Filipovic blames the Democratic nominee’s problems on “badly behaved men”;
Weiner, Trump and even Clinton’s own husband aren’t the only men whose bad decisions are blowing back on Clinton. FBI director James Comey, who sent the letter to Congress raising the possibility that there are Clinton emails on Weiner’s computer, sent that letter against the advice of Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Also at Time.com, Robin Lakoff, a Berkeley linguist, blames Mrs. Clinton’s email scandal itself on “sexism”:
The only reason the whole email flap has legs is because the candidate is female. Can you imagine this happening to a man? Clinton is guilty of SWF (Speaking While Female), and emailgate is just a reminder to us all that she has no business doing what she’s doing and must be punished, for the sake of all decent women everywhere. There is so much of that going around. . . .
If the candidate were male, there would be no scolding and no “scandal.” Those very ideas would be absurd. Men have a nearly absolute right to freedom of speech. In theory, so do women, but that, as the creationists like to say, is only a theory. . . .
It’s not about emails; it’s about public communication by a woman in general. Of course, in the year 2016, no one (probably not even The Donald) could make this argument explicitly.
Well, Lakoff just did. And now you can see why nobody else would want to.
Writing in the New York Times, Joanna Naples-Mitchell also makes Mrs. Clinton’s close aide Huma Abedin out to be the victim of a man:
Why must a powerful woman pay a price for her husband’s transgressions? This article suggests that Huma Abedin may have become a political liability for Hillary Clinton, not because of anything Ms. Abedin has done but because she had the misfortune of marrying Anthony Weiner.
Who knew the Weiners were in an arranged marriage?
Even the president is crying sexism, the Associated Press reports:
Obama’s critics falsely claimed he wasn’t born in the U.S. During an appearance on TBS’ “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” Monday, he was asked what the equivalent for Clinton will be.
“I think the equivalent will be ‘she’s tired, she’s moody, she’s being emotional,’ ” Obama said in the interview with Bee, which was taped last week. Obama added that there’s a double standard in politics, where men are praised for being ambitious but women are not.
That’s especially rich given that the Democrats have been at pains to portray Trump as moody and emotional.
Anyway, all this suggests Mrs. Clinton is not the shoo-in we assumed her to be this time last week. That’s not to say Trump is certain, or even likelier than not, to win. The polls are still close, and the Democratic turnout operation could make the difference. And while there definitely won’t be another October surprise, there’s still time for a November one.
For more “Best of the Web” from The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto click here.