The dust begins to settle-Hillary’s lead diminishes-Healthgate and what it all means.
As predicted here and elsewhere, the post-convention bounces of both candidates receded back to pretty much where they were going into the conventions. Due in part to the Republican convention going first, and Donald’s seemingly self-destruction behaviors, his bounce was shorter lived and smaller than Hillary’s. The latter’s larger-than-expected convention bounce pretty much disappeared under a barrage of new attacks about her emails and, this past weekend, under the glare of a newsworthy intrepid cell-phone video, the world saw Hillary alarmingly collapse trying to get into her limousine after suddenly leaving an outdoor service honoring victims of the 9-11 tragedy. Hillary’s doctor released a statement blaming the incident on dehydration, while dropping the bombshell that she had been diagnosed the previous Friday with pneumonia. The fact that Clinton appeared an hour and a half later waving to admirers, posing for a picture with a young child, and looking fine and hydrated, was lost to the mass media. CNN kept, and continues to keep, showing the video of her apparent faint–far more than they showed the post-incident chipper-Hillary clips.
With that, ‘healthgate’ was born. Hillary’s past worrying health issues were dug up and placed front-and-center. As were her family’s health histories of asthma, stroke and heart problems. Hilary’s camp quickly announced that she would release her health history and Trump followed in suite. What kind of report they will issue and whether this will quell the potential dangers to Hillary’s campaign or not remains to be seen. The thought buzzes around in the back of one’s head: What kind of doctors examination will be referenced; their personal physicians, or perhaps an independent examining body, such as the Mayo Clinic? Lots to mull over, and the political effect can only be guessed at. Historically, medical issues such as these don’t prove to have much influence in final voting choices–assuming, of course, that no continuing crisis appears. As for the short run, I’d expect some small negative impact for Hillary among voters on the margin. A hint of this comes from the L.A.Times-USC daily rolling poll. Every day they report the effects of the prior three days of polling. They use a constant group of voters, and, today’s, covering one-day since the incident, and two-days before, show a somewhat dramatic shift, for this kind of poll. The previous three-day rolling report had the general election even, and Tuesday’s gave Trump the lead by 3 points. By Wednesday it had increased to 5 points. Thursday and Friday were the same and showed a possible plateau in Trump’s mini-surge from healthgate. Reuters showed a 2 point decline by Hilary over the previous week. Some of the battleground states showed a greater decline than the national polls, however mostly they weren’t conducted by the major pollsters. State polls generally trail the national ones in dramatically shifting periods. So we will have to wait for a few more results showing comparative poll results from those states.
It is commonplace knowledge that the real campaigning doesn’t begin until about two weeks after Labor Day. More and more it feels like this important election’s results are hanging like a feather in the wind, with its outcome determined by external events. Trump’s core support seems unmoved by anything he does. I suspect a large number of these were regular viewers of Trump’s reality show, The Apprentice. I would like to see detailed data on this. So far it has not been forthcoming.
Finally, it is worth reminding the reader that ours is an electoral system. Hillary’s lead in terms of electoral votes is more substantial than her national numbers to date. Political Scientists note that the electoral winner will likely be determined by the results in ten key states, and that Hillary’s lead in some of these states makes for an uphill climb for Trump. My own examination of polls in those states confirms this, but I also note that her lead in most of the others is very slim. Accordingly, I still see a path for victory for Trump, though I agree the slope is steep, assuming no major external events that would cloud the picture. Based on results so far, leaks and all, this seems like a shaky assumption.
We will update the poll numbers on a regular basis to reflect important changes in them between our posts.