What Would a Landslide Mean?

Ever more, national polls are beginning to show that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton isn’t merely going to win the 2016 election contest — she’s going to trounce her rival, Republican nominee Donald Trump, “very badly,” as the billionaire real estate tycoon might say.

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com — which pulled off forecasting how all 51 states and the District of Columbia would vote in 2012 and went 50/51 in 2008, missing only Indiana, which Obama carried by 1 percent — Gives Clinton an almost 85 percent chance of winning the election, with at least 333 electoral college votes to Trump’s 203.

That’s a lot of electoral votes. And Trump isn’t doing himself any favors.

Bush 2004

George W. Bush felt that he entered his second term with a popular mandate and loads of “political capital,” especially after the razor-close contest with Al Gore in 2000. What would Clinton do with a huge vote haul? (Source: National Memo)

George W. Bush famously proclaimed after his 2004 victory over John Kerry that “I earned capital in this campaign — political capital — and now I intend to spend it.” The idea being, once the electorate supports you enough to turn out in large numbers to elect (or re-elect) you, then you get to enjoy a mandate (at least for a while), where those who would ordinarily oppose you, well, won’t.

The most immediate benefit — to Democrats, at least — is that down-ballot candidates may ride Clinton’s tide, handing the party control of the Senate at least and possibly even control of the House of Representatives as well (to this, FiveThirtyEight.com presently gives Democrats a better than 67 percent chance of claiming the Senate).

Beyond that, an electoral landslide would give Clinton leeway to act aggressively on her policy proposals, which might be earthmoving were she succeeding a rival administration rather than a friendly one of which she was actually a part. That makes it unclear where Clinton would spend her own political capital or what priorities she would set in place. For most of the recent months of the campaign, she’s been able to run on a platform of “I’m not Donald Trump,” and that’s served her admirably.

The polls are likely to tighten closer to election day — assuming Trump maintains a modicum of self-control — but with typically reliable red states like Texas and Georgia inching into the “tossup” category in several polls, it looks like Clinton is going to close out election night with electoral votes to spare and a clear mandate to lead.

The question is, what’ll she do with it?


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