It has been a particularly intense midterm season. I should know, because I’ve been covering it since September 2017, before (self-props) anyone else was.
Now, 13 months later, it is election day. I just left my local polling place after voting (no, I’m not going to tell you who for), and there was a 15-person line, despite it being 10 a.m. on a weekday.
People are really into this election.
So, who will win?
Why Hillary Clinton Lost
I was working at the Register-Star, Columbia County’s daily newspaper, on election night 2016. As you may recall, every single trusted pollster and media outlet predicted Trump would lose, and we’d be waking up to the first 12-year rule by the democrats since the FDR-Truman era more than 60 years ago.
I distrusted the majority’s analysis. I would like to say I knew Trump would win, and therefore could claim I had a better predictive intelligence than anyone else, but I figured my distrust was so in the minority I must be wrong.
My disquietude about the majority analysis sprung from driving around Columbia County, as one does very often when they are a breaking-news reporter. In the run-up to this election, I saw an innumerable amount of Trump yard signs, but during this ENTIRE TIME, I saw only one solitary Hillary sign. The sign wasn’t even in a yard; it was just stuck on the side of Route 9 in front of an abandoned restaurant, so you really have to question how it got there.
Though Dems have a slight registration advantage in Columbia County, the county is essentially split into thirds: one-third GOP, one-third Dem, and one-third either unaffiliated or independent. One would therefore expect there to be as many Hillary signs as Trump signs, but this was not the case.
When pollsters poll, they initially ask the respondent if they are likely to vote in the upcoming election. If the answer is no, end of call. The problem with this is the respondent’s answer is speculative. Though they may have every intention of voting, when the day comes, they may not.
As my drives around Columbia County attested to, there was zero enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton in the area. So, when a survey respondent reported they were likely to vote, and their vote would be for Hillary, the respondent certainly was voicing support for Hillary, but this is different than the supporter actually dragging their ass to the polls. Because there’s food shopping to be done, children to take care of, jobs to be worked — all these obligations — and if you’re not enthused about your candidate, these things naturally take the priority, and suddenly it’s 9 p.m. and Donald Trump is president.
Trump supporters, on the other hand, were enthusiastic as FUCK. When they responded they were likely to vote, they DID.
The polls captured the support of the nation, but they did not capture the enthusiasm. Which is why they were wrong.
Blue Wave vs. Red Tide
Speaking only about the NY-19 race — Faso vs. Delgado — the zeitgeist has flipped. There is TONS of enthusiasm for Delgado and very little for Faso.
My last article was originally going to be a piece about hard-core supporters of both Delgado and Faso. However, the article changed to a piece about Delgado supporters at Faso Friday because hard-core Faso supporters were hard to come by. The ones I found were either directly affiliated with the Faso campaign, and therefore could not be trusted to speak to their genuine opinions, or were not so much FOR Faso as FOR Trump.
There is more enthusiasm in Columbia County today for Faso than then there was for Hillary in 2016, but both are heavily outweighed by the enthusiasm for Delgado. When these supporters say in polls they are going to vote for Delgado, they are legitimately going to find the time.
Delgado has also raised much more money than Faso — $7.9 million vs. $3.7 million as of the last FEC filing date in mid-October. This doesn’t say much about support in the district, since many of these contributions were from elsewhere, helped by national coverage of the race and liberal contribution conduits such as ActBlue. But, in an election system such as ours, money buys advertisements, mailers and, most importantly, a campaign structure able to deliver a strong ground-game. Delgado, for instance, raised the most money of the seven candidates in the democratic primary, and now he’s the nominee.
So, because of enthusiasm for Delgado and more money, he will almost certainly win. But one must consider the other side of the equation: The Red Tide.
There HAS been growing enthusiasm about Donald Trump, thanks to him invigorating the shit out of his base for the last two months, and, since Trump isn’t actually running, this energy will be directed to congressional races. HOWEVER: only 44 percent of Americans support Donald Trump, according to an average of approval polls maintained by RealClearPolitics. FURTHERMORE, this is negative enthusiasm, in the sense of it not being FOR a particular thing, but AGAINST something, namely a democratic takeover of Congress.
The people who voted for Hillary in 2016 voted for the same reason: they weren’t really enthused about her, but they WERE enthusiastic about not having Donald Trump in office. This was obviously not effective. Enthusiasm for something is more powerful than enthusiasm against something.
Faso supporters, I’ve found, aren’t really super-into Faso; they just love Trump, and therefore say they are going to vote for Faso. They are very focused on the national picture.
The Red Tide is a thing, so that softens my prediction that Delgado will definitely win. Both Republicans and Democrats are more enthused about the current midterms than in 2014, and voter turnout will most likely be more than 50 percent higher in NY-19 this time around, which isn’t an out-there prediction, since voter turnout in the district’s democratic congressional primary was DOUBLE what it was last time. National voter turnout will increase close to 50 percent when compared with 2014.
I almost chose to not consider the NY-19 polls in my analysis, just because they were so inaccurate in 2016, but they serve to give us a baseline.
Two outfits have done polls in NY-19: Siena and Monmouth, both which have very good reputations. The two outfits’ polls must be considered separately, because they use different polling methods, and therefore come up with different data sets.
Siena had Faso up by five points in their late-August poll, up by one point in their mid-October poll, and had Delgado up by one point in their poll released this week. Monmouth had Delgado up by three points in September, and up by five points in late October.
This appears to show Delgado gaining. However, the four most current polls’ results are within the polls’ margins of error. This essentially means the election is at a dead heat. However, though you can discount the results of the individual polls because of this, you can’t discount the overall MOVEMENT of the polls, since they all have similar margins of error, yet show an undeniable trend.
My final prediction? I give Delgado a 65-35 chance of winning.
Oh yeah, and if you haven’t voted yet, do it. I honestly don’t care who for. The importance of this race is not that a particular candidate wins, but that our district has a representative who properly represents us. Who that will be is up to you.