Democrats’ 2016 best-case scenario is now just a vanishing point in their rearview mirror. Instead, they find their worst case scenario rapidly filling their front windshield. It is easy to blame this dream-turned-nightmare on FBI Director Comey’s announcement that the FBI was renewing its investigation into Clinton’s emails, but the fault really lies with Hillary herself — and the Democrats who ignored her past record.
Even before FBI Director Comey made his October 28th announcement to Congress that newly discovered emails warranted a renewed investigation into Clinton’s improper use of a private email server while Secretary of State, Democrats’ utopian visions had disappeared. With the race already tightening, Comey’s letter to Congress only accelerated Clinton’s waning momentum.
It is hard to imagine now, but throughout a good portion of this year Democrats did not just imagine winning in November, they seriously contemplated annihilating the Republicans. It was going to be McGovern’s revenge — this time it was Republicans’ turn for everything to go wrong.
The Republican establishment had lost control of their party. The Tea Party, which Democrats disdained, was running amuck, had kicked to the curb a host of credible Republican presidential candidates, and was now nominating a rank amateur outsider. With every passing day he said something politically incorrect that Democrats believed was going to set the Republican Party back a decade as it fractured into fratricide.
In addition to losing the White House in a landslide, Democrats and their allies in the media foresaw Republicans losing both the House and the Senate — possibly becoming minorities so inconsequential they would return them to their proper pre-1994 status.
In their headiest moments, 2016 was going to be a realignment election that created a new dominant alliance of disenfranchised establishment Republicans and Democrats. It was not too bold to question the very future of the Republican Party.
Now just days before the election that was supposed to Republicans’ doom, none of these Democratic delusions remain.
On November 3, Real Clear Politics’ average of national polling showed Clinton holding a minuscule 45.3%-43.6% lead in the popular vote. Well within any particular poll’s margin of error, even this small lead exists only because older polls inflated the average. National polls showing ties (like the IBD/TIPP poll) or even Trump leads (like Rasmussen or the LA Times tracking poll) are common.
Clinton’s favorable/unfavorable ratings too are now coming in below Trump’s. The Economist/YouGov (10/30-11/1) had Clinton 41%/59%, while Trump was 41%/58%. And ABC/Washington Post (10/26-29), had Clinton 38%/60% versus Trump’s 39%/58%.
Even Clinton’s seemingly unassailable Electoral Vote lead is all but vanished. In RCP’s November 3rd count, Clinton leads just 226-180 in electoral votes. If all the toss-ups are distributed, Clinton’s lead is a bare 273-265.
The hopes of down-ballot windfalls are also gone. RCP projects the Senate at 46-46 now with 8 toss-up races. If those toss-ups are apportioned according to the latest polling, Republicans would retain a 51-49 Senate majority. That would amount to just a paltry 3-seat Democratic gain — despite Republicans having to defend 24 of the 34 seats up this year.
In the House, RCP projects a 224-190 Republican majority with 21 toss-up races. If those 21 toss-ups effectively split (even giving Democrats an 11-10 advantage in them), Republicans would still have 234 seats — just 12 seats fewer than their current 246.
Apparently, pantsuits don’t come with coattails.
Instead of being their champion by knockout, Democrats are trying to hold Hillary up, as she struggles to hang on to the last vestiges of what was — and what once seemed so close. If Hillary can hang on, it will be by the slimmest of margins.
A Pyrrhic victory, it will come with a cloud of legal issues above her. Clinton will have astronomical unfavorable ratings, which only promise to get worse as she seeks to govern. She could well face a Republican-controlled Congress free to investigate what Obama’s Justice Department ignored. And Clinton would not be able to count on Congressional Democrats terrified at electoral retribution in midterms less than two years away — midterms which devastated Congressional Democrats during her two more popular Democratic predecessors’ presidencies in 1994 and 2010.
And this is not even Democrats’ worst case scenario any more. The truly unthinkable is becoming thinkable: What if she loses? Gone would be the Obama legacy, which that was the only real reason for most of Hillary’s Democratic support in the first place. A Trump presidency, coupled with a Republican Congress, could mean revocation and repeal of Obama executive orders and his scant legislative accomplishments.
Ephemeral as Democrats’ best-case scenario has proved to be, their anger toward Hillary would prove quite lasting. If Clinton finds that she has lost, she will also find that there is no love lost among Democrats for her.
Democrats have already proved adept at blaming someone else for their predicament — i.e., Comey for his announcement — like the policeman who pulled them over. How much easier to blame the actual driver?
Both are also a lot easier than facing the blame they deserve themselves. Democrats knew Clinton’s driving record when they climbed and gave her the keys. They should not be surprised now as she speeds them in the wrong direction.