Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trump is right: The election is rigged — but in his favor

Today’s blog originally appeared in the Hill.

October 19, 2016, 10:48 am
Trump is right: The election is rigged — but in his favor
By David A. Schultz, contributor

Donald Trump is right that the election is rigged, but he’s right for all the wrong reasons. It’s rigged by race, class, and gender in ways that favor individuals such as Trump.

Doug Chapin and Lawrence R. Jacobs recently argued correctly in a Contributors piece in The Hill that election administration is fair and for the most part its administrators are competent and impartial. The days are gone when Lyndon Johnson won his 1948 Texas state election by having the dead vote for him in alphabetical order. This is not where elections are rigged now.
If elections can be rigged, either party can do it. The secretary of state (or commonwealth) is the chief election officer in each state and they would have the ability to manipulate the election system to the benefit of their favored candidate.

Of the 50 states, 28 are Republican. Among the 11 swing states that are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina,  Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, only three, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, are controlled by Democrats.

Republicans control nearly two-thirds of the secretaries of state in the critical swing states and presumably would not have an incentive to rig the election in favor of Clinton.

Look at who votes, runs for office, and give political contributions. All skew toward older affluent white males — a profile not much different from Trump. The major interest groups and political action committees active in campaigns tend to be composed of these types of people, supporting interests more favorable to them than the poor or people of color.

Back in the 1960s political scientist E.E. Schattschneider described a bias in the American political process that favors a democracy for only a subset of the entire population, that observation remains largely if not more firmly true today.

People of color are less likely to register or actually vote than Caucasians. Historically, lynchings and racially discriminatory laws such as poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather laws prevented African-Americans from voting.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act banned these practices and increased voter turnout among all people of color, but the Supreme Court in 2013 gutted the VRA in Holder v. Shelby County, embolden almost immediately  a new round of laws to suppress voting that may impact the 2016 elections.

A new disenfranchisement is afoot. False claims of voter fraud have led to numerous laws impacting the voting rights of the poor, students, and people of color. Many of these are groups whom if they vote it will not be for Trump. Cutting back on early voting or closing or moving voting locations produces longer lines to  vote.

Seldom are these polls closed in neighborhoods with poor people or people of color. There are stories of purged voter lists, complex rules to register, or in the case of voter id laws, costs associated with securing the documents required to obtain  the ids necessary to vote. They are the new poll tax.

According to the Sentencing Project, more than six million individuals cannot vote because of felon disenfranchisement laws. Some of these bans are for life. These laws disproportionately impact racial minorities with one in thirteen African-American adults unable to vote due to these laws. In Florida and Virginia, two critical presidential swing states, more than 20% of African-American adults cannot vote because of these laws.

Only a very small percent of the population expends money for political purposes. The Sunlight Foundation documents that the richest 0.01 percent of the population accounted for 42% of all the 2012 political contributions. The 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United  decision has pumped more corporate money into elections.

The cost of running for office all but excludes the poor and middle class as candidates, and because women are still confront glass ceilings in business, many face additional difficulties compared to men like Trump in locating  donors and money to run for office. None of this includes the sexist double standards women face as candidates, or the reality that there is still a percentage of the population which will not vote for any female candidate.

In many states the poor cannot take time off from work to attend a caucus or vote in a primary or general election because it means forgoing a pay check. Restrictive ballot access laws make it difficult for third party or independent candidates to run for office.

The Commission on Presidential Debates has adopted restrictive laws regarding who can participate  such that no third party candidate will probably ever again be invited unless he or she is as rich as Ross Perot was in 1992 when he was able to buy his way in as a serious contender.

What little money is left in the nearly bankrupt and broken presidential public financing system goes to a third party too late to help it in the present election. But for the rest of the congressional and most state and local races, there is no public financing, creating a wealth primary that excludes all but a few from even running for office.

It is easy from the position of being white, male, and affluent to say that the American election system is fair and legitimate. The reality is that for millions it is not. It is a system that is actually rigged in favor of individuals such as Donald Trump who has benefitted from a political and economic system that more likely favors people like him.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Elvis Sightings, Space Alien Abductions, and Election Rigging

I have spent way too much time in my career writing about voter fraud, or rather its absence.  Let me offer a few thoughts here about voter fraud and vote rigging.   Here are links to a two of my articles, one in a Harvard publication, the other in Mitchell Hamline Law Review.  I have read just about every credible (and non-credible) study there is on voter fraud and they largely disprove the theory of widespread in-person voter fraud.   Here are a few paragraphs from what I have written.

What evidence does exist documenting voter fraud?  Nationally, the three most persistent claims of voter fraud come from the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund, a report from the Senate Republican Policy Committee in Congress, and the Carter-Baker Report. None of these studies have documented provable and significant voter fraud.  The Carter-Baker report asserts that: “[W]hile election fraud is difficult to measure, it occurs.” Proof of this assertion is citation to 180 Department of Justice investigations resulting in convictions of 52 individuals from October 2002 until the release of the report in 2005. Yet while the Carter-Baker Commission called for photo IDs, it also noted that: “[T]here is no evidence of extensive fraud in U.S. elections” As with other studies, absentee voting is singled out as the place where fraud is most likely to occur.

As the Brennan Center stated in its analysis and response to the Carter-Baker call for a voter photo ID: “None of the Report’s cited examples of fraud stand up under closer scrutiny.”  Even if all of the documented accounts of fraud were true, the Brennan Center points out that in the state of Washington, for example, six cases of double voting and 19 instances of individuals voting in the name of the dead yielded 25 fraudulent votes out of 2,812,675 cast—a 0.0009 percent rate of fraud. Also, assume the 52 convictions by the Department of Justice are accurate instances of fraud.  This means that 52 out of 196,139,871 ballots cast in federal elections, or 0.00003 percent of the votes, were fraudulent. The chance of being struck by lightning is 0.0003 percent.
Similarly, Minnesota is devoid of significant in-person voter fraud.  The state has witnessed two close elections and recounts in 2008 with the senate contest between Al Franken and Norm Coleman and then in 2010 with Mark Dayton and Tom Emmer.  In both cases the recounts failed to show any real in-person voter fraud or impersonation at the polls.  Even in its oral arguments before the Minnesota Supreme Court in Coleman v Franken, Coleman’s attorney Joseph Friedberg, when asked by a Justice whether widespread voter fraud existed, conceded that it had not.

The Minnesota Majority has alleged many instances of voter fraud over the years.  Mike Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, has investigated many of them in his jurisdiction.  He found none involving in-person voter fraud.  Yes, 40 ineligible felons voted, but voter ID would not prevent that because drivers’ licenses do not indicate criminal records.  In 2008 seven voter-impersonation charges were investigated by Minnesota county attorneys; there were no convictions.

The Costs of Voter ID
What are the costs associated with adopting the amendment?  Minnesota will spend millions of dollars issuing identifications for those who currently lack them.  The Secretary of State has estimated that 215,000 Minnesota adults lack a state-issued ID. Minnesota and local governments will spend millions of dollars to implement the new ID requirements. Additionally, individuals will bear costs to secure these IDs.  In Weinschenk v. State19 the Missouri Supreme Court noted that approximately 3 percent to 4 percent of the state population lacked an appropriate identification to vote under its voter ID law.  It found that for many the costs of getting the ID were significant, even if the state issued it for free.  Many individuals lacked state birth certificates, or were born out of state, or naturalized, and they lacked the required documents to secure the state ID.  Many of these documents cost money, in addition to the time and ability to navigate the bureaucracy to obtain them.  For these reasons, the Missouri Supreme Court invalidated its voter ID law under its state equal protection and right to vote clauses.
Many of the individuals who lack valid IDs are the elderly in nursing homes, recent immigrants to the state, students away at school, and those who have recently moved into a new home or apartment.  Imagine trying to get your elderly mom or grandmother out of a nursing home and into a state driver’s license office to get new photo identification.  The costs to these individuals may be enough to disenfranchise or discourage them from voting.

Election Official Manipulation

If elections can be rigged, either party can do it.  The secretary of state (or commonwealth) is the chief election officer in each state and they would have the ability to manipulate the election system to the benefit of their favored candidate.  Of the 50 states, 27 are Republican.  Among the 11 swing states that are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina,  Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, only four, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, are controlled by Democrats.  Republicans control nearly two-thirds of the secretaries of state in the critical swing states and presumably would not have an incentive to rig the election in favor of Clinton.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Why political science falls short in predicting elections

My latest blog originally appeared in The Hill on October 5, 2016.

October 05, 2016, 12:55 pm
Why political science falls short in predicting elections
By David Schultz, contributor

Candidates, campaigns and strategies don’t seem to matter in U.S. presidential elections. At least that is the impression often left by mainstream political scientists and their election forecast models. Yet the 2016 presidential election suggests that who the candidates are, what they say, and how they campaign does matter.

A hallmark of modern political science is the scientific aspect of it. It is an effort to create mathematically objective and accurate models that can predict political behavior and events such as elections. Define a list of variables, plug them into an equation, and presto: months before the actual election we can predict a winner.

The leading political science prediction models consider variables that include economic growth, (incumbent) presidential popularity, and how long the current party has been in power. Oddly, many of the best prediction models downplay or ignore political variables such as the impact of presidential debates, the quality of candidates, the role of money in politics and even policy positions — the factors that candidates, their managers, and strategists often discuss and emphasize as critical to electoral success.

The best models for political scientists seem to be the ones that are deployed far in advance of elections, so as not to be tainted by actual politics or the campaigns themselves. Even less statistically driven models seem to assume elections are over before they start. I too am guilty of that, and have argued that because of the Electoral College and partisan alignments, the 2016 election was largely over two years ago except in a handful of 10-12 swing states such as Ohio, or that only about 15 counties will matter this election cycle. Political science models describe how firm partisan and demographic factors such as race and gender are in determining whether and how individuals will vote.

Listen to political scientists and one will think that debates, who the vice presidential candidate is, and even lawn signs do not matter. It seems nothing — especially anything any of us would consider political — really matters. Politics and elections seem to be on autopilot. Theodore White’s classic “The Making of the President” series, while informative, is superfluous in terms of explaining presidential elections. We might as well simply run the models every four years and let them and political scientists pick the next president.

The reality is that politics does matter in campaigns and elections. The very craft of political science in its effort to be scientific often misses that. It misses the subtle shifts in public opinion that occur as a result of a debate. It ignores, especially this year, how candidate character — or lack thereof, as measured by the high disapprovals for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — might affect voting behavior.

The models miss how anti-establishment feelings, whether a voter feels like they could have a cup of coffee with the candidate, potential terrorist attacks, fear of immigration, emails, and a potential massive WikiLeaks dump could shape elections. And these models overlook the impact that get-out-the-vote campaigns, voter ID laws and racism or sexism have on elections.

Perhaps these affects are variables too subtle to measure, or instead they are structural forces that simply escape standard political science models because, oftentimes, these are unpredictable or escape easy quantifying. These are the factors that political operatives consider important — this is real politics.

Real politics is sloppy and dominated by conventional wisdom that it often wrong. It is rumor-fed and hunch- or gut-driven. It’s not scientific.

In real politics voters matter, and they need to show up for candidates to win. Yes, real politics could learn a lot from political science. But political science could learn even more about real politics if it paid more attention to what is happening in politics. Too many of my political scientist colleagues are perplexed this year by the success of Trump, the struggles of Clinton, and why this election is so close. But to really understand and explain the 2016 election cycle, one needs to move beyond macro-statistical models that fail to appreciate how campaigns and elections are affected by micro, subtle and structure forces that take place within an election cycle and are not simply determined well before campaigns even start.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Why is Trump Afraid of Vaginas?

When Donald Trump was a little kid did a vagina spook him?  Did one fall out of tree and hit him on the head?  Did he trip and fall into one?  Or did one jump out of a dark alley with hedge clippers and seek to cut off his penis (because as Freud said, women have penis envy and therefore seek to emasculate men by castrating them in all types of ways)?   After observing Trump’s Monday debate performance against Hillary Clinton and now his lashing out against former Ms. Universe Alicia Machado, it appears that he is scared to death of vaginas and that he must have had a traumatic childhood experience with one.

There is no question Trump hates women.  They are pigs, slobs, and dogs a Clinton reminded us Monday when she recounted Trump’s adjectives about them.  He hates Rosie O’Donnell, Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina, Hillary Clinton, and now Alicia Macado.  If he cannot objectify and dominate them such as in beauty contests they are threats to his masculinity and therefore objects of ridicule.  After Clinton beat him in the first presidential debate on Monday Trump could have been gracious such as when Obama acknowledged in 2012 that Romney beat him in the first debate.

Instead, he got beaten by a girl, nothing is worse than that.  Thus, Trump blames everyone except himself.  The debate was unfair, the moderator unfair, the questions unfair, and he himself was a gentleman and did not go far enough in raising the question of Bill Clinton’s marital infidelity and a 20 year old story about Monica Lewinsky.  Insult Clinton’s vagina by waving another in her face.  Appeal to her insecurities and that of women across the country by claiming you are not good feminists or women because their husbands had affairs.  It was your vagina’s fault. And of course he lost because Ms. Machado is fat.  All perfectly good reasons to explain his debate performance.

The 2016 presidential debate was the first to have a gender dynamics where there was a woman featured as a presidential candidate.  It was Trump’s first one-on-one presidential debate with a woman.  Throughout the Republican primaries he out-testosteroned the other male candidates.  It was classic Freudian right down to the debate featuring discussion of his penis size.  Why he did not whip it and a ruler out like adolescent males do is beyond me, but he effectively did that, more or less declaring he was the best candidate to make America great again because he had the biggest penis.  But when it came to Fiorina he froze, criticized her face, or otherwise seemed tout his superiority because he had a penis and she did not.

But with Clinton on Monday it was the first time he had to directly confront a strong vagina on stage  He was eye-to-eye with a vagina and he blinked.   It was mano o mano–rather mano o vagina on stage–and he lost.  It was humiliating to his manhood, castrated in front of 84 million viewers.  So of course the only thing he could do was to call a former Ms. Universe fat.  Yes, that evened the score with Clinton and women everywhere.  For Trump, if you cannot dominate a vagina insult it instead.  Clinton’s finest moment on Monday was when she finally became comfortable with gender, laughing off Trump’s insult that she could be blamed for everything.  It was at that moment she won the debate, putting Trump down in the worst possible way by being a vagina that beat him.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Clinton won the First Debate But did it Matter?

To the extent that American presidential debates sway public opinion, help swing voters decide, or persuade observers that someone is fit to lead the United States, Hillary Clinton won the first debate.  While she may have not done much to help her cause, Donald Trump did nearly  nothing to his benefit.
It is questionable  how much presidential debates really shift public opinion.  Since first televised in1960, they remain the most watched event during the presidential  campaign.  While in the past famous scenes–such as how Kennedy won the 1960 debate over Nixon by looking more presidential, or when in 1992 George H.W. Bush looked at his watch and looked out of touch when he debated Bill Clinton seemed decisive, the best political science evidence is that the debates only shift a small number of voters. This year in a highly polarized electorate where there are few undecided or swing voters, the same can be said.  Trump supporters will say he won, Clinton’s allies the same.  Thus, for the few undecided voters the question is who won their vote, if either?
With the presidential race essentially tied, Trump and Clinton needed to do two things. First they needed to play to their political bases and get them excited to vote.  Both candidates did that.  Trump was aggressive and continued his rhetorical style that suited well during the Republican debates.  He raised questions about Clinton’s honesty, stamina, and her views on some policy issues such as Iraq.  Clinton sought to question Trump’s temperament, display her policy skills, and show she was more prepared to be president.  Thus their political bases were pleased.
But if the issue was moving the swing voter in the critical swing states, Clinton did a better job.  The swing voters–women, people of color, and those under the age of 30– found more to like with Clinton.  She talked more policy, she appeared calmer, and she seemed prepared.  Trump lacked focus, seemed to ramble, and he barely could string together a coherent  argument.  Moreover, Clinton simply was prepared and gave thoughtful answers even if you disagreed, whereas Trump gave troubling responses.  He had no plan for ISIS or terrorism, his remarks about NATO left it member countries wondering if the USA would protect them, and his refusal to renounce first strikes with nuclear weapons did little to convince critical swing voters that he could be trusted as commander-in-chief.  On merits, Clinton generally answered the questions, Trump avoided them or blustered.
Clinton also came out more truthful.  Yes she had questionable answers about her denial in supporting free trade, but generally most fact checks gave Clinton the edge.  Trump was not truthful regarding his stances on his support for the Iraq war and he was wrong on issues such as China and currency devaluation.  Whether he lied or simply was uninformed is a matter of debate.
Finally, in terms of style, Trump did little to convince people he had the right temperament to be president.  He f ought with the moderator, he shouted down Clinton.  He simply displayed a style that did not win him any new friends.  Clinton navigated the gender double-standards, generally avoiding looking too aggressive or passive.  Whether she navigated the fashion police I leave to others to address.
Overall, Clinton should be judged the winner but whether it matters is yet to be seen.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Near Impossibility of Clinton Winning the First Debate

Before it even takes place the easiest prediction in the world to make regarding the first presidential
debate between Clinton and Trump is that it will be nearly impossible for Clinton to win it.  The reasons are simple–sexism and the expectations game.

There are many reasons why Hillary Clinton could or will lose the first debate.  She is not a strong  public speaker.   Or she might not provide good answers to tough questions.  Or she will continue to be dogged by issues surrounding her e-mails or even something substantive and real that matter, such as her policies toward ISIS, health care, or financial regulation.  All are possibilities.

But what will doom her first is sexism.  She is trapped by a double-standard that Trump will not face.  If on the one hand Clinton is too aggressive she will be saddled with the bitch word;   too passive and she will be perceived as too weak, too female, to be a commander-in-chief.  If she is too policy focused she risks turning off too many, further reinforcing the impression that she is too cold or ambitious.  If she getting into a yelling match or goes into the gutter against Trump she is just a nag. No matter what she says she will be criticized.

But presidential debates are more watched than heard.  Since the beginning of televised presidential debates in 1960 it is how one looks that is more important than what one says.  Radio listeners thought Richard Nixon beat John Kennedy in 1960 in terms of content while most who watched declared the latter the winner because he looked young, strong, and in command while the former sweated with a five-o-clock shadow.  The medium is the message as Marshal McLuhan famously declared and for television the medium is appearance.

Even before she utters a word Clinton will be judged by her appearance.  She will be poured over in terms of what she wore (another pantsuit!), how her hair looked, her make up, her weight, or whether she looked sick.  She will be judged by her body language.  Think back to the primaries when Sanders wore the same cheap $99 Woolworths suit everywhere he went.  No one criticized him on that.  But lest Clinton wear the same pantsuit as before or not have all her hairs in place she will be harshly criticized for that and the lead story come Tuesday will be about her fashion mistakes.

But the sexism is even deeper that how she looks.  She will also be Laurerized.  Laurerized is the new verb coined by Matt Laurer’s sexist treatment of Clinton a couple of weeks ago when he constantly interrupted her but not Trump in the Commander’s forum.    The media’s double-standard  will box her in.  Finally think even about this campaign and how the candidates are reverenced )and even self-referenced): Hillary v Trump.  The female is often referred to by her first name, the male  his last–a subtle but powerful form of sexism that treats women like children.

Clinton thus faces a difficult challenge.  She cannot be too aggressive or passive, too logical or emotive, or too strong or weak.  She has to look just right.  She needs to thread a nearly impossible  needle to be declared the winner–a task many women find everyday at work but not magnify that problem on a national stage and one will find it almost impossible to navigate.

But add to that the expectations game.  Clinton I expected to mop the floor with Trump on substance.  If she does not dominate she is declared the loser.  Trump wins simply by showing up and not insulting anyone (too much), or he wins if he insults Clinton, or he wins if he just looks presidential (read as be male and looking like he is in control).  The expectations are so low for Trump that almost anything he will count as a victory.

This is especially the case in the polarized political and media environment we live in today.  Half the public has already declared Clinton will lose not matter what she says, and with that half the media and blogosphere has already rendered its judgment.  The post-debate pundits will issue the usual and predictable verdicts, make it difficult for a real consensus to emerge regarding who has won on merits.

Finally, this polarization and the politainment focus of the debates will render whatever substance there is superfluous, where neither truth will matter nor content seem important. Clinton cannot win on merits because merit does not matter. In so many ways, expect the debate to be cast as a great entertainment venture where all Trump needs to do is to call Clinton “an ignorant slut” and we have reality mocking the famous 1979 SNL Dan Aykroyd-Jane Curtin Point/Counterpoint skit.

It will be nearly impossible for Clinton to win the first debate.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Why Nate Silver is Wrong: The Limits of Political Money Ball and Why Trump may Win

It’s time to admit it–Trump may win.
Increasing and begrudgingly the establishment politicians, pundits, and analysts are beginning to realize that Trump may actually win the presidency. Nate Silver, whom too many people put too much political stock in, is now saying that Clinton is favored 60-40% to win, down from dramatically larger percentages even just a couple of weeks ago.  It’s nice to see that Silver finally is getting closer to my assessment which has said Clinton has a 55-60% chance of winning.  But even then, I may be exaggerating her chances and would put it at 50%+–barely break even.
Nate Silver came to fame with applying the logic of money ball to politics–successfully using his algorithms to call 99 of 100 states in the last two presidential elections.  Silver is smart, but it would not have taken an Einstein to call at least 90 of the 100 states.  This is what the logic of my book Presidential Swing States is all about–showing how because of the Electoral College, partisan voting, and party alignments, the elections were over before they started in all but ten states.  Moreover, in the last two election cycles, one could have also eliminated a couple of other states from the swing state category, giving one about 94 states that would have been easy to predict.   Throw in the relative stability of polling and getting to 99 is not so hard.
Why is all this worth mentioning in connection with Trump and the 2016 elections?  First,  despite 2016 being a unique election year there are still many forces that make it a relatively normal election that again is reducing the election to only a handful of swing states.  Still in play are the core ten that have consistently been in play for the last seven election cycles, such as Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Iowa, but additionally a few others such as Michigan and Pennsylvania may now be  flip-able.  There is evidence that partisanship is still a factor driving how people vote with few real swing voters moving from party to party.  Voters are coalescing around Clinton to some degree but more so for Trump, thereby producing a normal election pattern that suggests is it still a few swing voters in a few swing counties in a few swing states that will determine who gets to 270 electoral votes and wins the presidency.  All this bodes well for the Nate Silvers of the world.
Additionally when one looks at Trump versus Clinton traditional wisdom hands it to Clinton.  Until recently ahead in the polls, she has a better run campaign, more money, and has insulted far few people than Trump.    Yet this is where the uniqueness of 2016 kicks in, and where the limits of political money ball appear.
First, there is no such thing as an electoral college lock for the Democrats who think demographics is destiny.  Statistically voters may be presupposed to vote a certain way but you need to get them to vote.  Trump supporters are passionate and will show up, Clinton’s are not.  She relies on many voters who are mercurial at best when it comes to vote and she has done little to address the lack of enthusiasm many have for her.  She has yet to seal the deal with the Sanders people and liberals, simply assuming that running to the center as a Republican much like here husband did will result in these people having no where else to go and therefore they will vote for her.  2016 and the Millennials are very different from 1992 and the Baby Boomers.  Even African-Americans who loved  Obama in 2008 and 2012 may not come out the same way in 2016.
Second, polling is more complicated now than before. Cell phone technology, polling costs,  defining likely voter, and other issues all complicate this years predictions.  Many media outlets are cutting costs on polls.  Take for example the September 18, 2016 Star Tribune poll  with results from 625 respondents and landlines constituting 69%.  A good poll should have at least 1,000 respondents and nearly 70% cell phone.  This is a flawed  poll.  Silver’s predictions are only as good as the polls and he has blown several predictions this year, consistently over-estimating Clinton’s strengths.  Face it, Clinton often polls better than she performs, Trump performs better than polls.
Third, what political money ball misses are three important factors–candidate quality, mood of a country, and the politainment quality of American politics.  No matter how good a campaign some candidates are simply not good.  Clinton is a weak candidate and does not resonate well.  Factors such as likeablity are missed in political money ball.  Yes, Trump too is a weak candidate, but he has the benefit of it being an anti-establishment year at a time when Clinton is the poster child for the establishment.  And Trump understands the politainment aspect of contemporary politics that is increasing post-truth (candidates do not tell the truth and the public does not expect it), post-rational, post-issues, and simply pop culture sound-bite driven.  Image is everything, content is nothing.
Put this altogether and the traditional political pundits, politicians, analysts, and Nate Silvers of the world are missing a tremendous amount about politics in 2016.    They and traditional political scientists also miss the importance of how politics is moving marginal numbers of swing voters in a few swing counties in a few swing states and therefore the issue is not how Trump or Clinton appeal to large numbers of people but only to move a few people.  Aggregate analysis misses subtle shifts.
Right now logic dictates Clinton still should win but the reality may be that the public should prepare for a Trump presidency because there are many reasons to think they he will win.

Postscript:  The Star Tribune poll is flawed along the lines of its previous polls that predicted a Dayton blowout over Emmer in the 2010 gubernatorial race.  Notwithstanding the poll's problems there is no doubt the race for president in Minnesota is closer than some think.  Trump plays well in an Iron Range ready to flip to the GOP and I can see it electing Mills or Nolan.  The same  could affect the first district race Waltz v Hagedorn and even Craig v. Lewis and the control for the MN House and Senate.  Clinton's weaknesses have potential down ballot issues and the DFL's effort to go to court last week to get Trump off the ballot may have given new resolve to Republicans.  Add to that the ISIL connection to the St Cloud attack and how the public sees in some polls security and law and order as a Trump issue and one can see Minnesota as potentially competitive at the presidential level.  While possibly not yet a swing state, I see many reasons based on the conclusions of my recent book why Minnesota is becoming a swing state, perhaps even as early as 2016.